5 steps to setting inspiring sales targets [sales management]

Most seasoned sales people and sales managers have had to operate in an environment with sales activity targets. The concept is pretty simple:

X amount of calls + Y amount of pitches + Z amount of verbal commitments = Hitting Quota

The big question is how you manage against these numbers without being the dreaded sales manager droning on endlessly about daily call metrics? Unfortunately there’s no silver bullet, but here are 5 steps you can do leading up to setting standards that will help you set standards in a constructive way.

1) Check-in with Reality

Your numbers need to be based in reality, and that requires the people setting the targets to intimately understand the work that your sales work that is ACTUALLY HAPPENING on the floor. Don’t set numbers without truly understanding the sales math of your top, middle, and bottom performers.

2) Rep Buy-in

People are less resistant when they are following their own ideas. Ask your team what they think. Talk to them about their sales math and figure out what type of sales activity is required to be successful in the role. If you engage them in open conversation you may be surprised by the answers you receive.

The benefit here is that its much easier to launch new sales activity standards with your team, than launching something that they will fight against.

3) Manager Buy-in

Your front line managers are the single most important factor in driving growth on a sales team. They spend the most time in 1:1 situations and have the most influence over how reps think. If the managers don’t buy into your new activity targets, then your sales people won’t.

If you do step #2 you will have a head start on #3. But spend time understanding how your managers think about activity metrics. Teach them compelling ways to talk about why activity targets are important. Train them to manage against the number through coaching to get a rep to a specific target rather than by daily nagging and pestering.

4) Set the example

Activity metrics do not replace leadership, the leader needs to walk the walk and integrate the sales activity metrics into their way of working. Dig into metrics in 1:1s with managers, and coach them through conversations with their reps. In management meetings encourage managers to share their experiences with coaching reps to hit sales activity targets. Your team will learn faster in a group setting, and other managers will help convince the skeptical managers that these methods are worthwhile.

5) Mind the Gap


Now that you’ve launched new activity targets, mind/manage the gap between those standards and real performance early and often. This is a strength in numbers game, and if everyone is hitting it, and everyone believes it will make a difference then the prevailing culture on the floor will shift. If stragglers are aloud to drop below the standards and that gap persists, they’ll drag people down with them. The longer the team persists with numbers below the gap, the harder everyone will have to work to get back up to the new standards.