Are your sales goals realistic? Setting aggressive but realistic goals is important. No one should stop
you from shooting for the stars – setting lofty goals. But be self-aware of your capabilities as
well as your limitations. By doing so, you’re positioning yourself to succeed. Without a self-
awareness, you impact your ability to achieve.
A number of years ago, when I was an Enterprise AE, I was at a sales offsite. The annual offsite
served as a sales kickoff and was an anticipated event. The attendees consisted of salespeople
from across the company. There were three or four teams that included our managers and the
We gathered in one large meeting room and started going around sharing our sales goals for the year.
Although I had never participated in this type of exercise previously in a public setting, I said
that my goal for the year was to be in the top 10% sales performers for the new business division.
I was confident in my stated goal but obviously was nervous to put it out there for all to see.
Before I share the outcome of the story, let me start with a little background.
Previously, I had been in the top 10% of sales performers for 6 years in a row – at two different
companies and was recognized as a top performer. So working hard and overachieving was not
something entirely new. Going back even further, I was in the top 10% of my High School class
and went to a pretty good college, Villanova. It certainly didn’t come easy, but as I worked
harder than ever, I benefited with stellar results.
Once at Villanova, I again gave it everything I had and without surprise, graduated with honors –
only 10% did that at Villanova and it was no easy feat. After attending Villanova, I decided to
continue my education and get my CPA license. Getting your CPA requires numerous tests and
is achieved by only a small portion of those who consider acquiring the certification. Only 10% of
CPA exam takers pass the CPA exam.
That being said, based on past history, I believed that if I worked my hardest, I would make the
top 10% and that would be a big achievement for me.
Okay, now back to that sales meeting. After I verbalized my goal of being in the top 10 percent
of sales performers in the company, vice presidents, that I didn’t report to at the time said,
“What kind of goal is that? The top 10? That sounds to me that you’re settling!!……”
An eerie silence filled the room.
I was embarrassed and was in a tough position because I felt responding would be pointless. It
didn’t make sense to try and justify what I said. Maybe my gut was wrong but I sensed this guy
wasn’t going to accept my reasoning. So I took the high road and luckily we quickly moved on to
the next person’s goals.
So what’s the point of this story? It’s actually quite simple. I personally knew what I was capable
of when I worked my hardest and to be in the top 10%. It was something I had consistently done
when I was at the top of my game – again and again. That’s why it’s essential to set aggressive
goals while being realistic.
You can’t shoot for the moon without having any prior success or a vehicle to get you there.
Similarly, when it comes to sales, you can’t expect to go from worst to first overnight. Yes, set
aggressive sales goals but be realistic.
So how does this story end? Ironically, I ended up in the top 5 of all salespeople that year. That
was at least in the top 5%. The next year that VP was put in charge of my division and two-thirds
of the salespeople in the division either moved to another team or chose to leave the company
within that first year.
Here’s the take-away. Know yourself and strive to achieve whatever “greatness is” for you and
only you. If you need help finding the right sales path for your career and find your inner greatness, learn about our sales training and coaching.