Self-Destructing Your Sales Team

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Over here at som3, we experience almost daily the most frustrated Sales people (or anyone with a P&L and/or targets to hit basically). These are good employee assets that are desperate to get out of organisations that continually throw ever increasing and ever impossible sales/revenue targets at their good people in an effort to squeeze more and more out of them, in order to please Shareholders or a Board of Directors on a mission to fatten up their businesses as quickly as possible in order to sell a business to the highest bidder. Many businesses fail miserably with their Sales target plans, often adopting the common strategy to look at the previous year’s revenue and bump in what appears to be reasonable growth. This is crude and doesn’t take into account inevitable changing variables such as investing in new markets/geographies or even standard (and to be expected) market volatility.

We were talking to the CEO of a large household Telecoms / Mobile business the other day, he’d left (along with most of the good people in his team) because time and time again the business would issue quota’s six weeks into a fiscal year (too late), which were already too high (but the Chairman/CFO had decided to basically look at the business plans he was being presented with by his experienced people on the front line, and just add 20-25% to a spreadsheet). Guess where most Business Leaders in that business ended up at year end ? …… 70-80% of their number! (basically showing that they know what they are doing, but the end result leaving them feeling like they are on a losing team and subsequently moving on).

No one worth their salt in Sales will ever be happy missing their number and feeling like they are on a losing team (who wants to play for a losing team season after season, year after year ? – no one!)……especially when they are in fact not losing, they are doing what they said they would do in the first place! Setting unrealistic sales targets can destroy a business in no time by eroding managements credibility and sales motivation right down to the front line, not to mention make a right mess of cash flow management.

This cycle seems to repeat year on year in so many organisations, and just leaves good people flat, quite often not far into a new fiscal period and subsequently throughout the rest of the year. It becomes a dangerous cancer in any business. Good Sales people just say “sod this” and leave.

Now this is great for recruitment / staffing businesses with lots of excellent people moving on, as many companies basically de-motivate their good Sales people but companies/organisations out there just don’t seem to learn.

To retain and motivate your good sales / target / revenue driven people, don’t make them feel like they are on a losing team from the off each year. So many organisations get this so wrong.