Sales Expectations Vs. Goals

Expectations vs. GoalsSales goals are carrots created by salespeople and organization that everyone strives to meet. Typically goals are set higher than expectations.

Expectations are a list of measurable criteria and behavior policies creating a basic performance benchmark.

Goals and Expectations are unique from each other, they are not the same.


One of the best actions an organization can take to is to create a clear list of basic sales expectations.
This list should include the following:

  • Sales revenue
  • Start and Stop date to achieve revenue
  • Record keeping practices
  • Marketing actions
    • Calling
    • Partner development
    • Meetings
    • Sales presentations.

By implementing expectations everyone in the sales group has a clear benchmark of performance. Because sales management can be a fire drill new hires are often left to wonder. “Am I falling short, meeting, or exceeding expectations?”  Your list of expectation will allow them to see for themselves how they measure up.


Goal setting is an action for salespeople to look internally, placing the “bar” higher than the company expectations. Salespeople should set their goals so that they move well beyond basic company expectations. In addition to setting individual salesperson goals every sales group should develop an overall sales goal. Management needs to view goals as upside and expectations as must have levels of performance.

Company budgets should work off of expectations!

This means that you should never set goals and expectations at the same level. I look at expectations as my “Good Enough” watermark. When a salesperson meets expectations they earn the right to stay on the team! When a salesperson achieves their goal they receive a bonus.

When setting quotas (budgets) should you look at expectations or goals?

The only quota that matters to salespeople is the one they carry around in their head. This is the one which holds the amount of money and recognition they want to achieve in their own lives and is completely independent from anything the company publishes.

I find a good policy is to set sales quotas at your “Good enough” expectation level and then implement a commission plan that highly rewards salespeople that help your service bureau achieve the overall sales goals. Here is an example for a retail salesperson (50 and under employees focus.)

Sales Quota:

  • 120,000 Annual payroll sales
  • Quarterly quota 30 – 45K depending on quarter
  • Base Salary + XX% annual payroll revenue

Sales Goals  Bonus considerations: Quarterly Bonus Considerations

  • $100 for every  five opportunities developed by one business partner
  • $250 bonus for every $5000.00 sold above quarterly quota
  • $500 for adding five work comp clients
  • $500 for adding 10 HRanswerlink clients
  • $50 dollars for each demonstration hosted in our office

In developing a sales bonus program look beyond revenue and bring in overall business goals. The more services you deliver to customers the more likely it is they will not leave your service bureau. So, you should tie your sales expectations and bonus structure to drive sales habits which deliver more than just payroll business.

In summary expectations will keep everyone on task and leave no mistake as to who needs to “up” their game. Goals guide your team past expectations helping salespeople reach their full potential. Sales budgets should be set according to your service bureaus expectations with bonus gates/programs clearly defined rewarding salespeople that perform at a high level and deliver on company sales goals.


Drum up more business with a Sales Blitz!

Drum up more business with a blitz.The payroll selling season is in full swing. Salespeople are busy closing out the year, following up on all of the accounts that asked for a call back in the fall. Is there anything else you can do to get the most out of the upcoming selling season? Yes, call a BLITZ!

A sales blitz is a focused effort to uncover new business using simple sales actions in a very short period of time. A well run sales blitz will uncover new business opportunities and help your entire team become hyper focused in the push to the end of the year.

To run an organized blitz preparation is the key. A blitz needs to be very easy on your sales team. Here are some items you will need to create prior to running your blitz:

  • Targeted list of 300-1000 prospects/leads
  • Tracking sheets
  • Call themes
  • Goals

Because a blitz is a focused effort in a short period of time you must create a clean call sheet to speed up the process. Call aversion can kick in at anytime, to help your sale team it’s very important to take the thinking out of the calling action and create a “Just do it!” environment that allows their sales skills to rise to the top.

To stay organized simple tracking sheets should be used so that every salesperson can gauge their success and quickly identify areas for improvement. In our End of Year Sales Blitz sessions we cover a very simple to use conversation method to help salespeople seamlessly enter into payroll sales conversations. Using tracking sheets you and your team can better see what is working and what isn’t working. Meaning don’t continue running down the wrong path, know what you’re doing well, measure it and make the appropriate adjustments.

Calling themes will help your team be well prepared to begin conversations with contacts. Before beginning your campaign take time and review what works for your service bureau and talk about this with your team. At MCC we find these group discussions always yield new information about what is important to the customers so that everyone on the sales team can perform at a higher level on calls
Goal setting can be very effective in improving sales performance. When planning your blitz be sure to examine your goals from multiple angles. There is much more to success than just appointments. In our blitz program we look at goals for updating your sales database, setting appointments, qualifying buyers for non-buyers and partner leads.

If you are looking for more guidance in running your next sales blitz consider registering for one of our upcoming online sales blitz sessions, learn more here.

You can’t sell if they won’t talk

We can't sell if they won't talk.A simple observation throughout my sales career is that if people won’t talk to us, we can’t sell them anything. Another observation is that many salespeople know how to talk, but don’t know or understand how to listen.

To sell, we need to engage people in simple conversations. To be in a conversation, we need to allow or entice the other side to talk. Salespeople need to understand when to shut up.

The path to a successful conversation is basic conversation development questions. Most of the time, you only need 3-4 good questions to kick start a conversation.

A crappy appointment involves either too much talking on the part of the seller or too many questions that lead to nowhere. We all know when a meeting goes well; it’s not hard to figure this out. If the other party mostly talked and we have an agreed upon follow-up meeting, that was a good meeting. On the other hand, if we mostly talked and we walk out with an “agreed” upon follow-up call, 8 out of 10 times that was a complete waste of the buyer’s time.

In sales, we have questions that give us the facts of the prospect’s world. (e.g., Who is your current provider? How long have you been with them?) It’s OK to use one or two of these questions just to help you and the prospect start talking. However, our big or primary objective is to give the prospect a stage so that she can tell us HER story about what it is she does, how she feels about her environment and how she thinks we can help her improve HER life.

The easiest way to do this is to ask broad questions that encourage the prospect to tell us a story. By listening to her story, we will gain all of the information required to qualify and move our position forward. A salesperson’s job is to tactfully guide people to talk. When they are done speaking, we should have a complete understanding of them, their company, the environment they work in and areas they want life to improve.

When people tell a good story, they interact with their audience. Many of the best storytellers actually don’t start the story; they enhance it with their own experiences and then give the stage back to the original speaker. This is how a sales conversation should work — we are the unknown director.  Our time on stage is short, yet powerful.

To get into sales conversations that sell, we need to step back and look at our services. Review how our services benefit current customers and create a list of questions that might bring up these benefits during the course of a conversation. Some of these questions will be broad while others are laser focused. Our skill is determining which ones to use first and when to use which questions.

The dance is to keep information following from the prospects’ side of the table as much as possible. A poorly placed question can stop a good story in its tracks. Conversations are built on trust and if you violate the trust given to you buy the speaker, the conversation is over.

So is there a magic question? No. Each prospect is a little bit different. While there isn’t a magic question, there is one thing you can do to create conversations: Organize. Prior to engaging a prospect, we need to give her the framework of the meeting. This will help her mentally prepare for her side of the conversation. The easiest way to do this is to send prospects a simple meeting agenda; failure to do so is just stupid. Be professional; take 3-5 minutes and create an agenda

Time — the Ultimate Villain!

Everyday is a race against the clock. Some days we want more leisure time; some days we want more selling time. The only thing constant is that time moves forward whether we are ready for it or not.

A challenge that some salespeople encounter is that they work in a space that offers almost unlimited potential sales. An example is if you are a sales person in Dallas, TX and you are allowed to sell to the entire market place. If you’re not careful, the volume of potential can become a rep killer.

The more focused a salesperson is, the better she will perform. The best producing Major Account Reps work with a limited set of accounts and dig deep into these accounts. Effective territory/retail salespeople are experts at focusing on sections of their territory.

Salespeople in geographic territories should use a basic plan to maximize their selling time. As technology has advanced, territory reps can use online tools to increase performance. However, we still need to get out in front of customers. How you choose to manage your face-to-face time is critical in becoming a successful geographic rep.

Here is a simple, tried and true (aka, Old School) method to increase selling time:
Create a nice wall/cube map of your entire territory. If you need a zip code map, use the following link: You may need to print off your territory across several pieces of paper. Once complete, use scissors and tape the final map together.

You will know which areas of your territory hold the highest concentration of business. Now divide the physical area into 4-5 sections. The goal is to get an even spread of potential business into each section of the map.

Now that your map is prepped, you assign each section a number. Looking at your calendar, assign each section to a day of the week (Mon-Fri). We are creating an outline that you can commit to in coordinating your outside selling time. A simple plan is to spend an entire day in each section, but that is not the best method.

When you look at the map, certain areas will always be on your travel corridor to and from your office or home. The area in the travel corridors allows the greatest amount of flexibility for meetings. A good practice is to plan your mid-day and early afternoon meetings in the areas farthest away from your office. Areas closest to the office get morning and late afternoon meeting slots.

By focusing on sections and travel corridors, you will gain more selling time. In addition, you will gain a much better appreciation of the businesses in each section and be in a more solid position of creating connections between your current customers and prospective customers. A referral from a business down the street will usually carry more weight than one from customers across town.

Be true to yourself. It’s easy to take a meeting when a prospect tells you the day that best accommodates her, yet as salespeople we must focus on our entire business. It’s OK to say that a meeting won’t work even though you have an open time slot. Great salespeople respect their own time just as much as the customers.

The summary of this post:

  • Create a wall map of your Territory
  • Divide it into 4-5 Sections
  • Assign each section a day
  • Know your travel corridors
  • Develop meeting slots for each section
  • Respect your time too

This is another example of the value gained when we chunk things into manageable pieces. Give yourself one flex day a week. Start with larger sections and break them down into smaller pieces as you get to know your territory.

Listening and salespeople. An interview with Lisa B. Marshall and Chris Murphy

Lisa B. Marshall The Public SpeakerOver the last three months, my company (MCC) developed our Business to Business sales workshops. Our first session is May 25-28th. We have a great group of salespeople attending and  we are really excited for the sessions to begin.

In researching ideas/methods to improve sales listening skills, I reached out to Lisa B Marshall. Many of our visitors will recognize Lisa as the public speaking expert at Macmillan’s Quick and Dirty Tips Network and may already subscribe to her Pod Casts in iTunes.  As a communication specialist, Lisa B. Marshall helps organizations and individuals share, present, and discuss ideas in a compelling, concise and cost-effective manner.

Lisa offered me some wonderful tips that can help Salespeople improve their communication skills. Lisa invited me to an online “face-to-face” interview to discuss  my views on salespeople and listening. I had a great time doing this interview and look forward to working with Lisa on more projects in the very near future.

The complete interview is here.

What Competition?

We talk about competition all the time.  In the payroll world, we talk about ADP and PayChex as our competition. While this is true, it is not the complete answer.

Competition is anything that we need to work with to reach our goal.

If I am making Qualifying Calls, I have a few potential competitors:

  • Everyone calling into my call list (not just my industry competition)
  • My internal motor
  • The recipients’ schedule
  • My attitude

When working on a new sale, my competition extends well beyond my industry competitor companies:

  • The individual salesperson
  • My schedule
  • My ability to prepare
  • My ability to listen
  • My ability to use/demo my service

When looking at these two short lists, our primary competition is usually ourselves. The good thing is that we can control that. I can’t control what the competition does; I can’t control my contacts schedule; I can’t control how many salespeople call the prospect.

If you focus on what you can control, you eliminate the only competition that can truly affect your earnings.

Good luck — proper preparation always wins the day!

Qualifying Calls

What can you do to improve sales now?

There are so many ways to improve sales that one can easily spend all day just thinking about it. I’ve never won a new client by just thinking about it. In the real world, sales just take a little bit of doing.

One of the absolute best sales tools for creating business is called “Getting off your ARSE!” – a very simple concept and all it calls for is work. A better way to look at this is to think of work as Making Money!

If someone asks you what you are doing this week, don’t say, “You know, same old same old, going to work, blah, blah, blah.” No. Look her in the eye and say I’m going to make a ton of money this week and donate 20% to XYZ charity. She’ll laugh. You won’t. She’ll look at you funny and then say, “What do you mean?”

What you mean is that as a salesperson, every day we go out and make things happen with people so that we can help them use our stuff. We do this by adding value to the markets we serve. The markets we serve are the ones we get out in front of everyday.

So when you are just thinking, you are not out in front of anyone. When you are working, you probably do not have the right mindset to be out in front of anyone. To win in sales, you need to get in motion — not some crazy running around with pom-poms waving in the air thing. You need to work in organized chaos. Always flex to the day, yet keep contact flow and rhythm to your selling process.

One area to gain proper control is Qualifying Calls. ‘Old school’ people call these Cold Calls. Why they tag such a horrible name onto something so wonderful is beyond me. Why not just call these calls Getting Kicked in the Face? With a name like Cold Calls, I think I would prefer to spend a morning doing Kicked in the Face calls. Somehow, I might feel a like I was doing some meaningful work. A meeting with a sales manager might sound like this:

“Team, today we are going to start out with 100 Kicked in the Face Calls. We know things are going to get bloody. Understand that we are in this together. Now let’s get out there and get our face kicked in.”

Qualifying calls are like Cold Calls but nothing like them. Yes, we use a phone.  No, we do NOT badger people and run our heads against a brick wall with a bunch of selling crap.

A Qualifying Call uses simple human decency to interact with the people we dial. Common courtesy is something everyone claims to want in human interaction, yet so few people actually understand what it means to properly do this in day-to-day life.

In Qualifying Calls, we use simple questions to gain access to conversations in which both parties get to decide if a next step is in order. When done properly, you will gain the following:

  • Sales Leads
  • Partner leads
  • Cleaned up data base
  • Referrals
  • A wonderful marketing list
  • Respect from prospects

If you want to learn more about using Qualifying Calls, please send me an email. If enough people are interested I will be happy to host a webinar on the subject.