Quotas and goals have traditionally been the driver for sales teams to succeed, but setting the bar too high can have negative consequences. When you give your sales team unrealistic goals, people may burn out or be unable to devote the proper attention to each goal. If goals are unclear and sound similar to “sell more things” then you’re not giving employees a way to measure their progress. Difficult goals aren't the only way to set up a sales team for failure - setting goals that are too easy won’t motivate people to work harder either. If you want to make sure you’re setting up your team for success, think about:

  • How to individualize goals
  • How to use data to support your efforts
  • How to help sales staff prioritize
And, lastly, allow yourself to consider the idea that goals may be unnecessary.


If you’re a runner, or you know someone who is, you are familiar with the concept of much time it takes to build up to Boston Marathon-level competition. A new runner sets small, progressive goals – like maybe shaving a few seconds off of a one-mile run. A seasoned runner, though, is going to have loftier goals. Here’s how that scenario applies to sales teams: If you set the same goals for inexperienced new hires and your all-star sales reps, you’re either asking too much of some people or not challenging others. Set attainable goals for new hires, and increase the challenge level over time.


Use your sales automation software when you’re developing goals. If, for example, data shows your sales reps make an average of 10 calls before connecting with prospects, you can look at individual performance to determine whether someone needs to make more calls in a certain time frame.


If you’ve given your sales reps a list of goals to accomplish, and someone asks you which is the most important, don’t say, “All of them.” Yes, all goals are important, but you need to offer some guidance on how to prioritize those goals. The same sales automation software you use to analyze data, can also help you order tasks and distribute the workload among your sales team.


In a piece for Harvard Business Review, Peter Bregman, CEO of Bregman Partners, said goals may not be the best way to motivate people. Goals, he said, may encourage cheating or an overly narrow objective. Instead, he advocates by defining a focus as a good replacement for goals. Goals are about an outcome; focus is about how to make that outcome happen. “An area of focus in sales … might involve having lots of conversations with appropriate prospects,” Bregman said. Find out more about how to proactively manage your sales staff in our white paper, “5 Hidden Factors that Make or Break Your Sales Team." Fill out the form below to download: