Committing to Concrete Sales Objectives

(Blog #15 in the ongoing series derived from a book Harris DeWese wrote several years ago—“A Year of Selling Profitably.” The book was written for printers to use as a guide in training their sales teams through a series of two-hour sessions over 48 weeks.)

Now we’re going to work on the hard part of planning—committing to personal sales objectives. I have a couple of immutable rules. First, the objectives must quantifiable. Second, they must be in writing.

It’s unacceptable to say, “I’m gonna sell more printin‘ this month.” More than what? More than last month? More than last week? How about more than last year? I know salespeople who can’t tell you how much they sold last week, last month or last year.

It is acceptable—and certainly desirable—to say, “I’m going to sell 15 percent more this year than last year. Since I sold $1.2 million last year, I’m aiming to sell $1.380 million this year.”

Now you don’t want to give it away just to make a total sales objective, so you should add, “I intend to improve the margin on my work by 10 percent. Since my profit margin last year was 18 percent, I want to improve to 20 percent.”

The profit margin numbers I have used above are provided as an example and should not be interpreted literally, since printing companies keep their books using different methods and different management information systems. Some companies—even some large companies—don’t bother to measure or report the profitability of sales by salesperson. In those cases, the salesperson is severely handicapped and can’t be blamed for poor pricing.

The more informed and measured a salesperson can be, they better he will perform.

An ideal sales objective should read, “I am aiming to improve my sales for the year 2011 from $2.0 million to $2.4 million. In addition, I will improve my profit margin by a minimum of 15 percent for the year.”

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.

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