Everybody has sales goals. . .

Some are set by our companies and some we set ourselves. For many sales reps, it wouldn’t be January without either a new sales quota or a new personal objective for the year ahead. If I had to guess, I’d be willing to bet that we all want to achieve more this year, right? But how many of us have actually created a detailed plan that will help us realize our goals?

Despite the importance both we and the companies we work for place on achieving objectives, it never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople fall short each year. It doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s discuss how to develop the essential behaviors needed to achieve your goals not only this month or year, but consistently and for the rest of your career.

The secret’s in the planning

Our research of sales teams has found that 100 percent of salespeople understand why setting goals is important (focus, commitment, dedication, etc.), and know what types of goals they should set (business, family, social, personal.) We’ve also discovered that 80 percent of salespeople understand the proper way to structure a goal, such as by using the acronym SMART. But last year, approximately 60 percent of field sales people still failed to achieve their objectives.


In the overwhelming majority of cases, salespeople fail to achieve their goals because they lack a detailed plan. In fact, very few of us understand what we need to do on a daily and weekly basis to achieve our goals.

So where do you begin? Below is a simple, four-step planning tool you can use to build your career, by designing a clearer path towards achieving your goals every month, quarter or year:

1. Identify your outcome in a way you can measure

What, specifically, are your sales and production goals for this year? For example: “I want to close $500,000 in new business and $500,000 in repeat business from existing clients this year.”

2. Carve your pathway to success

How do your goals break down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals?

Here’s an example of a sales quota — and how an average salesperson can expect to perform:

  • New business goal: $500,000
  • Average sales size: $20,000
  • Total sales needed to achieve goal: 25

Based on our sales metrics, to accomplish your goals for the year you can assume the following:

  • The average salesperson closes 1:3 qualified leads. Therefore to make 25 sales, our sample sales person needs 75 qualified buyers.
  • The average salesperson needs to meet three prospects in order to qualify one. So in the above example, our sales person needs to meet 225 prospects.
  • The average salesperson needs to make 15 attempts (phone calls, voicemail, email, etc.) to get one meeting. So, our sales person needs to make 3,375 attempts this year.

If this sounds like a frightening number, remember that 3,375 attempts over the course of a year really translates into:

  • 282 attempts per month
  • 71 attempts per week
  • Just 14 attempts per day

Now that’s what I call an easy plan to follow!

3. Launch your strategy

To give you a baseline on the amount of time it takes to make these daily calls, I make 25 attempts per day, which takes me two to three hours to complete. Here are some tips to help you complete your daily sales goals:

  • Start today. Half the battle is just showing up!
  • Keep records and make lists. Successful salespeople record their progress toward each goal every day, and then list the five most important things they need to do the next day to move that goal even further ahead. This short “To Do” list is 100 percent focused on achieving their goals because the most successful salespeople understand that daily discipline is the key to reaching your goals.
  • Track your attempts, meetings, and close ratios consistently, and measure your results. Then adjust your plan based on your real metrics. You may find that you’re above or below the averages I’ve used in this example, but if you don’t measure to find out, you won’t know where to improve.
  • Prospect consistently. Whether you chose to make all your weekly calls in one day or to do a small amount each day doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are consistent. Think of yourself as a professional. Misty Copeland would tell you it’s the consistency of her practice time in the dance studio — the hours upon hours of fine-tuning her body’s movements — that leads to her ultimate success.

4. Use radical accountability to drive success

  • The top 10 percent of sales performers have one thing in common: they’re committed to radical accountability. Mark the time you’re going to spend attempting to reach customers in your calendar each day or week, and close your office door until you’ve completed it. While you’re at it, turn off your email and don’t take inbound calls. If you work in a cubical, find a closed office in which to do your prospecting. In other words, force yourself to stay focused and avoid distractions. The fewer distractions you have, the faster the work will get done.
  • Tasks that are rewarded are tasks that get done. Find a way to reward yourself after your calls are made each day. My personal reward for completing all daily prospecting calls is a trip to the local Starbucks for my favorite “Venti triple shot non-fat mocha!” No calls, no coffee — it’s that simple. Guess what gets done first thing each morning?
  • Write your goals down, update them constantly based on your real results, and then make them public and display them close by. Studies show that people who share their goals with others are 70 percent more likely to achieve them. Discuss your goals with those people you respect the most, and you’ll work harder to ensure that you don’t disappoint them.

What’s the takeaway message?

The difference between top sales performers and the rest of the field is clear. Top performers have a plan to achieve their goals, and they act on that plan every day. This year, commit yourself to being a top performer. Design a daily and/or weekly plan, act on it consistently, and monitor your results.

It’s been said that most people aim at nothing and hit it with surprising accuracy. We all have a goal in mind. Whether you hit it or not will depend on your ability to define and consistently focus on the tasks that lead to your goal. If done right, you’ll be sure to hit your mark.