Sales Managers' First and Biggest Mistake

So, what do you think? Accountability? Availability? Training? Coaching?

Maybe, but they're not usually the first mistake.

Why do most sales reps miss their quota?

Because their quota has nothing to do with their "Why?".


Nailing their "Why?" makes the difference between job and reason for breathing. Understanding why your rep wants to work TODAY will allow you to help them do WHATEVER IT TAKES!

But it's hard. It's difficult. Your rep may not know. Your rep may not want to share. You have to dig and find out what it is.... and be prepared to be surprised.

A few examples:

  • A young entrepreneur had an offer from an investor to buy 51% of the company. He wanted to earn enough to not need the financing.
  • A hot shot rep, perennially near the top of the leaderboard wanted to earn enough to allow his wife be a stay at home Mom after the birth of their first son.
  • A BDR wanted to send their parents on an around the world cruise for their 25th wedding anniversary.
  • Another BDR had 5 personally compelling goals. Check out her update after 10 weeks.
  • A SaaS rep had been trying to earn $200K, but without making the changes that were necessary and missed three years in a row.. Made a plan with changes in December 2015, hit $200K in May 2016.

Those are examples of salespeople that have been in a position from a few months to a few years and want to do better. How do you approach goal-setting with a candidate or a newly hired rep? First, don't feel bad. Your relationship and your job starts when you meet. Whether it's pre-hire, during on-boarding or a reassignment. That's when you have the conversation. You are not responsible for any of the rep's prior results or behavior. However, you may be required to fix what caused those prior results and behavior and that conversation is why I'm writing this article.

Understand that real goals don't become real until there's a trigger event. Expecting a baby, unfavorable financing terms, or impending probation are some examples. The great thing about having the conversation when your relationship begins is that you are part of the trigger event and your rep is already thinking about change. All you have to do is help them focus and develop a plan. Ask questions.

  • What were you hoping to get done that you didn't get done?
  • New reps may not have a relevant earnings history, but asking non-first jobbers what's the most they've ever earned or dreamed of earning may lead somewhere.
  • Given their current comp plan, what's the most they think they could earn?
  • Hand them a magic wand.  Tell them to wave it and tell you what they see in 6 months or by EOY.  Then ask them what they see in 3 years.
  • My fail safe is, "Pretend you hit the lottery. $10 million. Never have to worry about money again. What would you do?" I'm looking for car, house, vacation, philanthropic cause, start a business or something like that. Then I need to know how much of the $10 million it would take to get it done or at least started.

After I get some sort of goal, I need to see if it's real. So, I ask, "Why _________?" "How will your life be different when you ________?" Listen for passion, emotion and signs that this is important.

Now, not everybody can be coaxed into a big goal, a goal for the year or sometimes even a quarter. If they can, great . Make the plan to get there. If they can't, start with a stepping stone. For instance, if you're gonna have a million dollar year, you're gonna need a $20K week. Go after a $20K week. Then go for another one. Then go for back to back. Then see how long a string you can put together. All the while, you're building confidence in your rep.

Here's a few more examples.

How to become a Billionaire

Don't look down! The Science of Goal Setting

Sales and Business Goals

Your rep's goal may have nothing to do with what they sell.

The Top 1%

I hope this helps your reps. Contact me if you need me.


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