Market leaders know that Goals should not be a “Shell Game”


Market leading teams understand the importance of clear, measureable goals.

Market losers set loose goals and objectives that change like a shell game, as their mood and business climate changes…this is the quickest way to demoralize a team, lose shareholder value and key contributors.

shell game

Market leading teams understand the importance of clear, measureable goals.

Market losers set loose goals and objectives that change like a shell game, as their mood and business climate changes…this is the quickest way to demoralize a team, lose shareholder value and key contributors.

Goals that are not written down are just dreams.

So how do we set goals that motivate, drive growth, but do not feel unrealistic?

What I have always done is build goals from the market up as opposed to from the ivory tower down.

I recommend you segment your market into regions, and then keep peeling the onion until you are down to current and targeted new customers and then products and services.

You must spend time living in your market gaining current information to set achievable goals that drive profitable growth and add value.

From real market knowledge I then recommend building sales playbooks by team member. This is a collaborative effort with the team members who will execute the plan and are closest to the market. We identify sales goals for specific current customers and products .We spend time developing strategy upfront with tactics and key initiatives to achieve our goals.

Where market losers consistently fail is spending too much time deep in the weeds of tactics with little if any time upfront in strategy.

Then we identify new accounts we would like to sell and again assign a goal and develop strategies and tactics to open the targeted new accounts. Next we take the data and goals by product, by customer, and targeted new customer, and new products, and we now build a goal as well as a stretch goal.

The goal becomes our mission; it is what we will be talking about for the next year. The goal aligns us as well as other cross functional team members helping us clearly understand what we are setting out to accomplish.

A stretch goal is always developed to insure the goal is achieved. You are paid on the goal, and if you achieve stretch goal objectives above and beyond your goal you realize a compensation multiplier. Stretch goals become your contingency plan. Stretch goals give you the wiggle room for when things go bump in the night.

What do they say…? “Colonel Custer had a plan”…or “the best laid plans of mice and men”….and they are right. No matter how well we gather market data, “things” happen. Markets change, accounts get acquired, planned product launches are often late, and competitors also are executing their plans.

Having a stretch goal helps us” shoot for the moon and worst case we still end up a star”.

When a change occurs we go back to the original goal and review the specific strategies and tactics. If a key account was acquired or closed, we go back to our stretch goals and change the weighting of those stretch objectives. We ask ourselves…” OK, based on what we now know, we need to make up the shortfall . Of our stretch goals, which have the highest probability to make up the delta to goal? What do we need to do? What do we need to ask of others?

In Market leading teams everyone is a member of “the team” and everyone rallies around the goal, and are aligned with a singular purpose of the team’s definition of a win.

Market leaders know cross functional goals tear down dysfunctional silos and make mighty market leading teams.

Market losers play a shell game with their goals.

They have a “goal of the day” and their teams set out to take the hill. Their teams work diligently against difficult odds and often achieve the goal only to find out the goal changed. In this environment, you must be more skilled at watching the shell game masters hands and follow the goal more than the strategy and tactics to achieve the goal itself.

Market losers observe the goal building process (if they allow you to build it from the market up) and “bet the farm” on the stretch goals.

They need all the stars to align perfectly and although your team will achieve the 20% growth goal, and the corresponding increase in shareholder value, your CEO makes you feel like losers because you failed to hit the stretch goal he told the board ( and often the bank to justify additional capital) we would achieve.

Market losers build goals based on the ROI to justify the investment.

They create a number to make the board and investors happy then they slice this home grown goal and distribute the unrealistic slices to each team member. When team members challenge these goals from mount high they are disciplined and told to “make it happen”. If you challenge how the goals were developed you are often left feeling like you are not being a “team guy” and your questions are signs of disloyalty.

Market losers change the goal when they are not achieving it.

For example I hear some entrepreneurs bragging they are not;” losing as much business as others in their market” versus reporting their performance to plan.

Market leaders set aggressive goals and establish stretch goals as contingencies to insure they: do what they say they would do.

Boards, investors, and owners respect teams that do what they say they will do. Investors gain confidence and are more willing to make additional investments in the future.

How about your organization…..

Is your organization a Market Leader?

Is your organization a Market Loser? Why?

Who sets goals in your organization?

Are the goals fixed or are they a shell game?

Do you know your goals? If you are not sure…how does that make you feel?

What kind of company would you prefer to serve…one that sets aggressive market built goals or one that promises the bank and board numbers and then throws goal slices over the wall and tell you to “Make it Happen”?

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. Pretty cool post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your posts.

    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

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