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Your quota is NOT a personally meaningful goal

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 3/11/19 12:30 PM

Copy of Better Odds blog

They say when you are tired of talking about something, that is when people are just starting to get it.

I am officially tired of talking about the importance of personally meaningful goals and how to create them.

But there is still a long way to go. Survey data of nearly half a million potential new sales hires showed only 51% had personally meaningful goals.

Yet, that same data showed that those with personally meaningful goals are 298% more likely to be elite salespeople with 32% more abilities. (Versus those without these types of goals who have 24% LESS abilities.)

Hmmm, I wonder if that has anything to do with the half of salespeople who make quota?


I've written several articles about the importance of personally meaningful goals and the science behind how they help us to achieve greater sales success. So it still surprises me when salespeople don't take the five basic steps to goal setting.

There are a few of the mistakes that I see most salespeople and sales leaders make.

Mistake #1- Thinking of your annual quota as the annual goal

First, the biggest one, is that they think of their annual quota as their annual goal. Your quota is about as motivating goal as getting up in the morning and being excited to pay your taxes. You do it because you have to, to feed your family or to stay out of jail, or in this case to keep your job. It's not really the thing that's going to get you to go outside of your comfort zone.

Mistake #2- Setting too many goals at once

Another mistake that I see many make is that they try to set too many goals at once. Our brains just simply can't focus on that many things. All it's going to do is cause you stress and the feeling that you're working really hard, but not making a solid move in any direction.

Mistake #3- Putting off setting goals

There's those that just procrastinate, putting off goals and say, "Well, I have a general idea of what it is that I want to accomplish." The problem with that is that if you aren't being intentional about what you want your life to look like, you're going to end up settling for whatever comes your way.

Survey data of nearly half a million salespeople that were about to be hired into new jobs found that only 51% of them actually had personally meaningful goals.

Now, some people will think about their goals, but for far too many of us, it's just a passing thought. We need to make it real by talking with others about it and daydreaming about it, and visualizing it, and thinking about what it's going to feel like, even what it will smell like in that moment when you've reached your goal. You can talk about this with your friends, your family, even your coworkers.

The next step that I would advise for this to make your goals real and tangible, create a vision board of them or of some kind of visual reminder. Some people on the call had Post-it notes they stuck to their monitors or photos. Others organized their goals into index cards. Personally, I like to use Pinterest as a way for me to visualize and plan out the places that I want to visit with my family or the remodeling that I want to do to my home.

Mistake #4- Sharing only for validation

Another mistake that I see a lot of people make when setting goals is that when they share it with other people, it's really just to get validation on whether or not they think that you can do it. If you're still thinking about the if, if you can do it and not the how, it's not likely to happen.

Now, only 41% of those sales candidates that were surveyed actually had an action plan with commitments to it. Without a detailed plan of the who, what, when, where, and why, your actions aren't likely to happen and neither are your goals.

Mistake #5- Not talking about your goals

The next mistake that I see a lot of salespeople make when they're setting their goals is they don't talk to anyone about them. The main reason that they won't share their goals with others is fear. "Tell other people about it? Oh, no, no, no. What if I fail in front of everybody?"

When I asked others on the call who their accountability partner was, a couple of people said their spouse, which is great. But can your spouse give you the kind of detailed feedback that you need to improve?

In addition to someone who is supportive of your goals, find someone who you can report to that doesn't necessarily benefit from you reaching your goals. They have no stake in the game, they can be a little bit more unbiased. That objective feedback is what you're going to need to help you improve. At the very least, find a supportive person that you can report to on a weekly basis about the progress and updates that you've made towards your goals. This can be the beginnings of the foundation for a system to report and track your progress yet only 47% of salespeople are actually doing this.

If you want to make this year different from last year, it's time to start taking your goal setting seriously. Start doing things differently than the other 50% of salespeople.

Research from the Dominican University showed that those who take these five steps about thinking about their goals, writing them down, creating action commitments, sharing it with a supportive person and then making weekly reports to that person are significantly more likely to achieve those goals.

And if all else fails and you can't get to what you think is a personally meaningful goal, then I'll give you the same advice that I gave to someone else on the live sales lab today, "Ask your spouse what they want." In this case, when I asked the salesperson that question, "What would your spouse want?" The immediate response was, "To stop working and stay home with our young kids." Sounds like that's a pretty meaningful goal. When I asked him, what would it take in order for your wife to be able to stop working and you to be able to live comfortably, his response was, "A 150% of quota." That's far more meaningful than just trying to make your quota this year.

It's the things that scare us that we need to lean into. As Fred DeVito, fitness instructor, once said, "If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you."

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Topics: sales coaching, salespeople, #livesaleslab