Q. Why do so many sales managers I’ve worked for set impossibly high performance targets? Of course, it never starts out that way – you begin as the latest ‘boy-wonder’ able to hit and breach all the targets and start luxuriating in the heady bonuses that keep rolling in.
But, inevitably, the bar is raised and raised again until you’re ‘boy- wonder’ no more and struggling to hit, let alone break, the target to get commission. Am I right in thinking this is a conspiracy to hold down my money to boost their performance figures? If so what do I do, leave for another job or just leave the whole industry completely?
Why Alex? Because they are all buffoons, of course! What sales manager in their right mind would set an unachievable target for anyone in the sales team? It just doesn’t make sense on any level. Not for you, who will end up demoralised and demotivated, and not for the SM because he or she will end up with a sales force that despises the very ground the incompetent fool walks upon (or possibly in their own view, above). In addition to that the manager concerned will be constantly explaining to their MD why his team consistently misses the target.
The big question hovering in the background is this: “Is it just you who thinks the sales targets are unreasonable?” If so then the problem may well not lie with the sales manager or whoever sets the targets and it may well be that you need to look at your own practices and techniques not to mention the inadequate level of your socks in order that a good pulling up can be administered.
If, however, the answer is “No, the whole team is struggling”, then it is indeed the buffoon at the top who needs to take another look at his objective setting.
In any sales team there are likely to be three kinds of achievers. There will be an elite who regularly match or beat their sales targets; there will be a majority who sometimes make the target and sometimes not; and there will be those who never make their goals. Each needs a different approach.
I suspect you are in the elite category most of the time and that’s why your manager feels the need to set targets that will stretch and challenge you, however, if the same targets are being set for everyone, then clearly there’s a much bigger problem.
There’s a great deal of research that tells us the most effective target setting takes place after briefing, negotiation and agreement between staff and managers, so rather than firing off a salvo of CVs to competitors, why don’t you try suggesting this approach to the boss? Better still try suggesting it to your colleagues and then approach the SM with a united front.
Are you brave enough to let Si sort out your problems? If so, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org