As a rookie salesperson, I wanted to make a strong impression on my boss and my new colleagues. I wanted to be considered a “first string” team member as soon as possible, but knew that I needed to earn that regard. The national company I worked for had a first-year sales development program that included a gross sales target. The fastest anyone in my office had accomplished this target was eight months. I met it in six and a half months.
Why was a rookie able to exceed that target? If it had been completed within twelve months, I would have received the same compensation and reward. But the target set by the company was not my motivation. The target became my goal only because my true motivation was to prove to myself and others that I belonged with the best.
Sales managers, leaders and professionals often make a fundamental error in setting sales targets and goals: We set sales target and assume they also describe the personal sales goals of the salesperson.
The popular SMART process of goal setting helps to create and communicate effective goals. Although sales targets fit neatly into the SMART formula, even a SMART goal needs one more question answered in order to clarify the personal motivation to achieve the goal. The question is simple: Why? A wise sales leader coached me with this piece of advice “If the why is strong enough, they will figure out the how.”
The sales target I was given in that first year did not encompass my why. It did not capture my motivation. While for many of my colleagues reaching the target in one year was motivation enough, for me the target was simply a tool to achieve my real goal, which was to be recognized as one of the best on the team.
It is important for sales managers to appreciate that targets do not define an individual’s goals in professional sales. Effective managers make it a priority to uncover the motivational why for each member of their team. Targets are important tools, but SMART goals become powerful only when they are connected to the personal and compelling why.
Remember: “If the why is strong enough, they will figure out the how.”