The "Sales Goals Motivate" Myth

It is impossible to motivate anyone but yourself. All a sales manager can do to motivate those members of the sales team, is to set a climate where staff members motivate themselves. However, some managers sincerely believe that formal goal setting sets a climate for self motivation. And, because managers believe that goal setting motivates, a variety of programs that use goal-setting strategies, like Management by Objectives (MBO), have been widely employed in businesses and professional organizations across the United States and Canada. But, longer term studies of these methods suggest that the success of these programs is minimal at best--because as some observers have found, while on the surface goal setting looks fairly easy. The truth is, that effective goal setting is a difficult skill to master.

Many sales professionals, through a lack of experience at setting appropriate sales objectives, set unrealistic goals, which in turn assures their failure long before they even start to execute their plans for achieving them. When they find they are not able to meet the objectives they’ve set, they not only experience the frustration inherent in failing, but many of them also receive criticism and in some cases, punishment from management. This failure, discourages future goal setting and if given the choice, a sales professional will not likely choose to use the goal setting strategies ever again to achieve success. Even when goal setting is used successfully, it is obvious that it is not the goal setting that is the motivator.

It’s the attainment of goal that motivates your sales staff to improved performance.


VIRDEN J. THORNTON is the founder and President of The $elling Edge®, Inc. a 23 year old firm specializing in sales, customer relations, personal coaching and management training and development. Clients have included Sears Optical, Eastman Kodak, IBM, Deloitte & Touché, Bank One, Jefferson Pilot, and Wal-Mart to name a few. Virden is the author of Prospecting: The Key To Sales Success, Organizing For Sales Success, 101 Sales Management Myths, A Realtor's Success Formula, and two ...

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