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Andy Rich | BizDev3.0 | Philadelphia, PA

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With January rapidly approaching, many sales leaders have started thinking about the team goals they will be setting for 2019. Team goals are important, of course …  but it’s essential to bear in mind that they are, by definition, the sum total of individual goals, and the individuals on your sales team are motivated by different things. Here are three critical steps sales leaders can take to support their team members’ personal goal-setting process in the coming year.


We all know the classic goal-setting model, and in the broadest sense, we don’t need to radically overhaul it. Yes, you are going to identify annual and quarterly goals for each salesperson, and create roadmaps for attaining those goals.  Yes, you are going to help craft individual action plans and schedule the check-in points where you and the salesperson will be able to discuss how performance is tracking against the goal.

But something else needs to occur before any of that happens … something important. As the leader of the team, you must connect the dots!

If you don’t connect the dots between what the organization wants -- fulfillment of the quota -- and what the specific individual wants, you shouldn’t be surprised when there’s a disconnect. Keeping that disconnect from happening should be one of your major goals. You’ll do that only by learning exactly what the individual salesperson wants to achieve in his or her world. It might be a down payment on a new house, a great family vacation to Jamaica, or the chance to make sure the kids won’t have student loans to pay back when they graduate from college … there are endless possibilities. Each salesperson who reports to you will be motivated by something unique.

Don’t just focus on the financial goal. Find out what life goal motivates each member of your team. That requires speaking to each of them individually to find out what's going on in their world. Suppose they do hit the target, and they do get that fat bonus check. What would they do with it? If you don’t know – and most leaders we talk to don’t – that’s a conversation you need to have.

Don’t assume that because you know why you’re doing what you do every day, the members of your team have made the same kinds of connections. Make it your responsibility, and your priority, to help each individual on your team to establish the “personal case” for hitting their performance target.


So let’s say you’ve talked in depth with Steve, one of the salespeople on your team, and you know that he wants to make a down payment on his dream house. Why?  Because the place where he and his wife and two daughters are living now is getting a little cramped … and there’s a new baby on the way. You now know for sure how Steve would spend the bonus if he hits his stretch goal for 2019. And you also now know he’s motivated. What should you do next?

Answer: You help Steve to visualize his goal. You sit down together and find a photo of the dream house he’s after, or something very much like it. You make sure that the image is something Steve can see, and get excited about, every single day. If you’re both feeling ambitious – and why wouldn’t you be? – you could coach Steve through the creation of a dream board that gathers together images that make him feel great and provide motivation: his wife’s smiling face, his two daughters’ smiling faces, maybe even a big smiling question mark to represent his new baby’s smiling face.

Dream boards are powerful. If the members of your team are receptive, consider working with each of them to create this kind of customized personal display of important goals and motivators.


Don’t stop there! Prove that you really are there for your team, not the other way around. As the year proceeds, make it clear to Steve that you are interested in what’s happening in his life, and in what he’s working toward. Specifically, don’t just ask Steve about work issues.  Ask how Steve’s family is doing … and listen to the response.

Prove that you mean everything you’ve said so far about wanting to help Steve write the next chapter of his life.  If what you have done so far supports only your personal financial goal, and not authentic concern for about Steve and his growing family, there will likely be a disconnect!

The type of goal-setting process we are talking about– collaborative and engaged – is extremely effective … but only when the leader means what he or she says. If you want it to work, you need to show real interest in the other person!

So … ask what’s happening on the home front. Ask about the ups and downs.  Develop a person-to-person relationship, not just a boss-to-employee relationship. Then make it clear to Steve and to every member of your team that you are personally committed to supplying all the resources that will them help turn that dream board into a reality … and follow through on that commitment.

Most leaders skip these three simple steps … but you don’t have to be one of them. If you get started right now by adding these three steps to your goal-setting process for the coming year, you and your team will be well-positioned to make 2019 your best year ever.


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