When you think of a sales target, what comes to mind?
You thought of a single number right?
But what if you thought of 2 numbers instead?
Not for 2 products or for 2 salespeople – one product, one salesperson, one period, 2 targets.
‘My target is 10 new accounts per month’
‘My target is 8-12 accounts per month’
Sounds strange? I agree.
I came across this in Robert Cialdini’s blog. Dr. Cialdini is the world’s foremost authority in the science of Persuasion and an advisor to Warren Buffet.
This is based on a research finding: “The Effect of Goal Specificity on Goal Re-engagement. Journal of Consumer Research, Scott, M. L., & Nowlis, S. M. (2013).”
The research says that people are far more likely to strive towards a single numbered goal, we set a goal with high and low limits which averages the initial goal.
How does this work? Let’s first explore…
What makes us strive towards our goals?
Two important factors which influence this are:
- How challenging the goal is and
- How attainable it is.
It can be very tricky to reach a balance between these two. Make it too difficult and people will not take the target seriously. Make it too easy and they will lose interest. (Not to mention that you make less money!)
How is a range different?
1. A range overrides the ‘perfect balance’ problem.
While people understand what the minimum acceptable goal is, they also have a higher target to look forward to. Any diligent salesperson who reaches the lower limit will immediately look forward to attaining the higher limit.
2. Where do targets come from? What is the basis for setting them?
- Historical performance?
- A derivation of your company’s required rate of return?
- Peer company comparables?
- A gut feel?
All the above is taken into account. What is usually not taken into account is how goals affect people’s attitude. This is ironic, because it is your salespeople’s attitude which will determine their behavior and hence their performance.
You can number crunch endlessly on the ‘ideal target’. You can even find an ‘ideal’ figure, but as a former finance guy (and now a sales guy!), I know very well that ideal figures are based on a host of assumptions!
So. rather than rack your brains and crunch data or use your gut, why not try a range. It’s a lot simpler to create and simpler to attain.
Who is this Approach for?
This method is probably not for your ‘ideal salespeople’ or super-performers. They won’t care about the lower limit and will probably exceed the upper limit.
This is primarily for the majority of your salespeople – the middle of the bell curve.
Your low performers will find the lower limit to be a welcome target. I believe that this approach can be a significant step towards turning your low performers into average performers.
What about salespeople who are not diligent?
Don’t try this with them. You should use sales coaching or other methods to try to turn them around, but not this.
Does it Really Work?
When I spoke of this to one of my sales training clients, he told me that he was already using it – successfully.
But what do you think?
- When will this work?
- When will this not work?