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How my crazy sales management decision is paying off

Cynthia Handal Sep 28, 2022 5:00:00 AM

What defines success?

A number?

An achievement?

In sales and in life, success is sometimes measured by what others define it to be. When I got a second chance to be a Sales Manager, I decided I wanted to change people's lives. 

I’m passionate about developing future leaders, and I realized what I’d been taught about sales management didn’t support development. It was about autocratic micromanagement. It didn’t allow people to be treated as individuals. 

I threw out everything I knew about sales management. I decided to create my own style. 

What I did was crazy, yes … but It worked. 

The biggest change I made was to disregard the idea that every rep should have the same goals, measured by the same metrics.

Here’s what I do instead:

  • I build sales teams from scratch, hiring two types of sales reps: reps with sales experience and reps with potential.
  • The more tenured reps help reach the quota, while the reps with potential ramp up and learn from the pros.
  • Tenured reps become great mentors to reps that have potential!

I believe in setting SMART goals to measure success because different reps have different potential. Success looks different across the team.

What are SMART goals?

First, SMART goals are basically the opposite of the one-size-fits-all approach. Before you give all your reps the same goal, think about these questions: 

  • Does everyone learn at the same pace?
  • Does everyone need to have the same goals?
  • Can you divide your quota among your reps by playing around with the numbers?

If you answered no to any of these questions then SMART GOALS are for you!

SMART stands for: 







Specific - Goals for each rep based on performance. Everyone is still striving for a specific target. The pace and ramp of each team member will be different. 

Measurable - The goals can be tracked! Being consistent with measurement is key. It’s how you’ll recognize when a rep excels in one area, such as cold calling or social selling. 

Attainable - Can this rep reach this goal? Is it doable? You may need a few cycles of setting SMART goals to get a strong handle on this one. The more data you have, the better.

Relevant - Are the quotas divided to help you reach the team’s total quota?

Timebound - Set monthly, daily, weekly and quarterly deadlines. I adjust goals monthly based on performance. 

While tenure plays a role, setting SMART goals isn’t as simple as assigning a number of meetings booked based on seniority. Personal strengths are important. 

Here’s how four reps on the same team might break down: 

  • Rep A is a tenured rep going for 25 qualified meetings via multiple channels (cold calling, social selling, and emailing).
  • Rep B is also tenured and is great at cold calling. They focus on cold calling with a goal of booking 15 meetings. They work in other channels a smaller percentage of the time to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. 
  • Rep C is newly trained. After finishing three weeks of training, their metrics show that they’re a self starter who’s ready to ramp. Their initial goal is a smaller bite of the team quota than Rep A or B is taking on. 
  • Rep D is a junior rep who finished training, but isn’t ready to prospect independently yet. They have daily coaching sessions with a focus on learning how to prospect and get qualified conversations. Their goal is to have 5 qualified conversations. 

While the comp structure is of course still different for a Sr. BDR, Jr. BDR, and tenured BDR, two people in the same role might do very activities every day. 

Managing a SMART team

When I first started using SMART goals, having different goals for different team members was controversial. Nobody was used to that idea.

Now, the team loves it. 

Three things make it great:

  1. The team focuses on uplifting each other. SMART goals help build a culture of mentorship. 
  2. We have weekly contests to keep people striving. Rather than competing against each other, it’s the team against our goals. 
  3. Everyone is recognized for reaching their goals. Taking the time to celebrate helps amp up everyone’s confidence. 

With this approach as our foundation, we always have a mindset that we can reach any attainable goal, even if it means our approach might need to shift. Instead of looking at the monthly number, we’ll work toward daily quotas. We’ll try new approaches. 

Our team is set up around empowerment, and that’s what helps us consistently redefine success to reach and exceed our goals.

I would love to hear about your experience if you try SMART goals! I'm active on LinkedIn


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