How to help your sales force meet its goals

Salespeople always have goals they need to meet. Giving them a road map on how to achieve these goals can help increase accountability and boost sales.

“We developed something to make salespeople a little more responsible. We put a program together that not only sets goals, but helps them achieve their goals,” says Rick Voigt, president of Today’s Business Products.

Smart Business spoke with Voigt about setting sales goals and how businesses can get better results by making employees part of the process.

Where did the idea originate and how does the program work?

The program came out of a sales management group; another company had great success with it, and we tweaked it to suit our needs.

We call it ‘Stand and Deliver.’ Salespeople were given quotas, which were broken down by quarters. Then they were asked how they intended to reach these goals. That included things like what customers they were going to get, their top 10 prospects and leads they were working on.

It makes someone more accountable than just giving them a goal of $1 million and letting them figure out how to accomplish it. We’ve given salespeople quarterly quotas, but never asked them to come up with a plan for how those sales would be achieved. This way they take more ownership of their goals.

It’s a road map to success. By making it very detailed, it’s easier to follow through on the results. If someone says they are going to call on these 15 customers and try to expand their categories — try to get them to add janitorial products, for example — a manager can follow up on that and see the outcome.

How was the plan presented to employees?

They were provided with an outline and a template to work with, as well as examples of how to create a road map. A spreadsheet was provided that had different tabs to be filled out, including a section on what salespeople needed from the management team to be successful.

There also was a SWOT analysis — they were asked to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, both internally and externally. That provided us with a chance to evaluate their opinions of the company and our customers.

Where there any surprises?

No, but there were things mentioned that are needed and we’re working on those, such as a new software program that will provide them with a mobile app to access customer information.

The process was very positive; they did a great job making their presentations and were well prepared.

The intent of doing the road map is to eliminate excuses. At the end of the quarter, if all steps of the process are followed, then everyone should meet his or her goals. We made sure goals were manageable, although there also are stretch goals for employees who go above and beyond.

What if a salesperson follows through on the plan and doesn’t get the desired results?

Quarterly goals are set, but there are still monthly meetings to go over sales and see where assistance is needed. It could be a matter of sending out another salesperson, manager or even the owner to help the salesperson.

If someone hits 95 or 97 percent of the goal, but is really working and giving everything, you work with them. You can also tell, however, if someone is falling short because of attitude or work ethic. If they’re calling in sick frequently, coming in late or are never around, if they’re not asking questions of clients, that’s a different situation.

If you train employees well and they help each other out, there’s no reason why someone would fail. Some salespeople liked the road map because they wanted that direction and structure. They thought it would help them improve sales.

This helps employees understand what they need to do. Some were doing something similar already. This program just creates a more defined process.

Rick Voigt is president of Today’s Business Products. Reach him at (216) 267-5000 or [email protected].

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