One of the most effective ways to sell more now is by having targets. It can also be the least effective way! We all know that if targets are set too low they don’t offer a challenge and if they are set too high they de-moralize us.
We also know that that sometimes sales managers set the targets too low or too high. But how often do we notice they are targeting the wrong things? Perhaps they are targeting the wrong product line. Perhaps they shouldn’t be targeting a product at all.
- Do you have sales targets to meet?
- Who sets them your sales targets?
- Do you agree with them?
- Are they normally too high, too low or just about right?
- Do you set some yourself?
- Could you sell more now?
How are your targets set?
Many years ago I was a salesman in the book publishing industry and had to sell a large number of new products every month. The busy publication dates for a general book publisher are September and October. In these months a sales rep for a large publisher would have as many as 300 new titles to sell per month. Typically, the sales manager would only set targets for 20% of this number. Those 60 books would account for a high proportion of that period’s revenue. They would be the titles the company had to pay large advances for, or those written by high profile authors. Check for the criteria used to set your targets and see if they make sense for your particular territory or customer base.
Set your own targets
My strategy was to write along the top of a ledger book the titles of all the books I had to sell. I would enter the expected sales figure for all the books targeted by my sales manager. Then I would consider each of the 240 or so titles that were not targeted and set my own target. In some cases, where the book was unlikely to sell in my region, my target would be very low. However, I still targeted every single book! This worked well. On one occasion we published a book called ‘The Complete Book of Ferrets’ a highly specialist title, but one that was suited to my territory. I set myself a decent target and actually sold 60 percent of the print run!
Why it worked
While my colleagues concentrated on the books with set sales targets, I concentrated on every single book and nearly always reached my own targets. The fact that I set targets for the 80% ‘also ran’ books helped me achieve higher revenues than any other rep. I often took it one step further and created my own promotions around certain books.
The moral of this story is that we work better when we have goals and we sell more now! I know that if someone challenges me to run one more mile, or lift do five more reps with the weights I find the energy to do it. Setting yourself goals, in addition to those set for you, makes good business sense for you and your company.