There is no doubt several Bibles’ worth of blogs and articles out there about why setting goals for yourself and your staff is a vital part of any sales team (and any successful business, for that matter).
Recently, we even saw the incredible Tim Ferriss discuss during a TED Talk why you should define your fears instead of setting goals. It’s an interesting flip on the process that all of us mere mortals go through in our jobs and lives from day to day; define the things you want to avoid, tackle them head on and your choices and outcomes become clearer and the process simpler.
But regardless of how you or your sales teams go about it both at work and personally, there is something more insightful and far more valuable that a goal-setting session can reveal – and it’s absolute gold for any CEO or manager out there in charge of planning sales team goals months and years ahead.
But first, understand what drives your staff (and drives them away)
Do you know how long your sales staff stay with your company on average? Do you know why they leave? Staff turnover is expensive and painful (sometimes), and some businesses put the cost of replacing staff at about six to nine months’ of their salary, though that shifts depending on the business.When planning a #goalsetting session, understand what drives your staff (and drives them away). #salestips Click To Tweet
But sales staff members who are planning to leave can be one of your greatest strategy strengths when it comes to forward planning, sales goals, budgeting and, potentially, retention. And the goal setting meeting is an opportunity for you to delve into their state of mind – be it positive or negative.
We deliver hundreds of sales coaching sessions each year, and ensuring we forge a strong relationship with sales team members is vital. Not only does it help us with getting people to actually care about achieving their goals and changing habits, it gets them to open up to us about their fears, goals, hopes and hates.
That connection – a certain ease they feel about dealing with a sales coach or a sales manager – can deliver insights that will benefit your business, your own goals and, let’s face it, probably your sanity.
‘I don’t intend to stay’ and why that sentence is so powerful
More often than not in our coaching sessions we come across good employees who, because of our positive relationship-building, reveal that they have no intention of staying. This is different from the disengaged employee who is merely bad at their job because of bad relationships, negative attitudes or personal issues.
For example, let’s talk about Brian (not his real name). I’d forged an excellent connection with Brian in our initial few sales coaching sessions so it was with a bit of a surprise that I received a phone call from him one Sunday – the night before we were due to meet for our goal setting session.
Brian was an excellent member of staff but he sounded worried and quite stressed. He said: “I’m not sure I can really share this with you. But I went through the session notes and did the homework questions. It triggered so much in me about what I want to achieve in my life that I’m really out of balance.
“The problem is I don’t know how loyal I am to my employer.”
As a sales coach brought in to raise the performance of teams, this is golden information. And it’s also gold for a CEO because no matter what your plans are for good staff members, when they reveal their intentions – that they’re leaving, when they plan to leave, why they plan to leave – it gives you an edge on either planning ahead for their departure, planning to get the most from them in their time left or even coming up with a mutually beneficial plan that will make them stay.When staff reveal their intentions it gives you an edge on planning ahead. #salestips Click To Tweet
But the key is to keep pulling the thread calmly to reveal that golden egg in the equation: intent.
After digging deeper with Brian, and asking the right questions on an emotional level, he revealed: “It’s just the financial side. I have so much more in me and I come from much higher paid roles that I’m actually underperforming in the role I’m doing. But I would love to be more productive.”
Again, gold for a CEO.
We came up with a plan for him to sit down and discuss with his boss the possibility of expanding his role into business development in exchange for commissions commensurate with the value of the clients gained.
And of course it was a successful conversation. All from ensuring that a goal-setting session with sales staff delved deeper than just the sales KPIs. And Brian stayed and flourished.
We need to talk about Margaret
Again, not her real name. Obviously not every rainbow has a pot of gold, but some hang around long enough for you to enjoy it while you can. And it was during a sales coaching session about goals that Margaret stood up and declared boldly: “I want to leave this company as quickly as possible. And my goal is within a year and a half.”
I admired her lack of fear about it and of course delved deeper into her situation. It turned out Margaret had come from running her own business and, through an unfortunate set of circumstances, it had folded. Her goal was to work a few years as an employee, saving enough capital to give it another shot.
Despite her boss, the CEO of the company, turning ashen faced at the news (he had planned to move Margaret into a managerial role) after a bit of prodding it dawned on him that suddenly he had a highly motivated, high-performing, revenue-generating sales machine on his staff – for another year and a half.
And then he smiled. That’s the power of digging deeper into the intent when you ask staff to set goals.
Don’t go into a goal-setting session blind
Avoid making the moment you sit down in the meeting room the starting point for your goal-setting session with staff.
We use a customised, proven process for getting the most out of these sessions with the sales staff we coach but even if you don’t have that depth of knowledge, ensure you have flagged key conversations with your staff prior to sitting down with them – and customise it to make sure you’re getting as much information about their intentions as possible.
Positive or negative, their answers can be a revelation if you’re willing to think outside the box.