Why Just Barely Unrealistic Sales Goals are Important

Michele Warg
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Sales goals offer many benefits, helping direct employees' energies and acting as measuring sticks that tell the company how well it's doing. Upper management, however, can have a tendency to set unrealistic revenue goals. While doing so is a bad idea in many ways, here are a few key areas that can be stimulated by setting goals that are slightly out of reach.

Chances are pretty good that your salespeople already know what it takes to achieve reasonable sales goals. They know how many sales calls to make day or where to find the most receptive clients. Putting what seems like an impossible goal in front of your team members can motivate them to think of creative ways to generate more sales. For example, someone who typically sells blue kitchen widgets to restaurants may foray into selling them to schools for use in cafeterias. This creativity can extend to other areas such as improved time management or use of technology to make better contacts as a means to increase sales.

Some people thrive when challenged, and you'll find plenty of those people in sales. Slightly unrealistic sales goals can have a motivating affect on them, pushing these employees to use all their skills and knowledge to achieve them. This motivating effect can be amplified if you make the journey towards hitting the goal fun. Use gamification techniques to track sales goals, and don't forget to praise and reward employees when they hit notable targets.

When done correctly, setting slightly unobtainable sales goals can help you create a culture of teamwork at your company. The goal can motivate others to consider the ways in which they can contribute to the effort to hit revenue targets. For example, the sales manager may invest in training to help members of the sales team hone their skills. While the focus may be on achieving the company's revenue goal, the improved teamwork between coworkers and departments often spills over into other areas, leading to a better-functioning company all around.

Some people believe that setting goals that are unrealistic may have a deleterious effect on employee morale and lead to lower sales. The trick to making high sales goals work, however, is striking the balance. The goal should be high enough to be challenging but not too high that employees know right away it is unachievable.

The best way to come up with a goal is to analyze your sales numbers from previous years. If you notice sales for the company increase at a rate of 10 percent each year, setting the current year's sales goals to 15 percent over last year's numbers may be enough of a challenge to reap the benefits mentioned above. Additionally, always praise employees for their hard work even if they don't achieve the goal. Showing your appreciation for employees can go a long way toward maintaining morale.


(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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