In a recent Sales Game Changers Podcast episode, Institute for Excellence in Sales President Fred Diamond and Gigi Schumm, the Senior VP of Worldwide Sales at Threat Quotient, explored some of the insights past guests had as women sales leaders. One thought-provoking topic that arose was the need for clarity around goals. On Ep. 085, when asked what her top two sales challenges are, Christine Barger, General Manager for Microsoft Federal, said:

“I think just making sure that people have clarity around goals. There’s so much information and different priorities that come from every which way. It’s very much a priority for me. I’m a simple person, I like three to five things to be good at, I feel like that’s the best way to show impact.”   -Christine Barger, General Manager, Ep. 085, The Sales Game Changers Podcast

During that interview, Christine described a deluge of information that makes it impossible for sales women (and men) to distill huge amounts of data into actionable priorities. Consider all of the different input sources we have as professionals. This challenge is one most sales professionals have, whether they realize it or not.

Why Do Sales Women Struggle to Set Goals?

Sales has the perception of being a male-dominated industry. While it’s true that there are fewer women in the ranks compared with men (just 39%), they still occupy a large segment. Could this be one of many messages women in sales receive? That they must measure up to or out-do their male counterparts? (It’s noteworthy that only 21% of VP of Sales positions are occupied by women).

Comparing yourself to someone else as a goal measurement is a recipe for unhappiness. Coupled with the fact that many junior sales women enter the industry with big goals, it’s not a surprise that female sales professionals are at a disadvantage. Although their big goals aren’t exactly the problem.

Why would big goals be a problem? Because big goals take longer to achieve. Women new to the sales industry typically have more trouble getting constructive feedback. Without feedback, big goals are harder to reach, resulting in demotivation.

In our special Women in Sales podcast episode, Gigi had this to say about Christine’s insight:

“I have to be careful that I’m not just giving that information unfiltered to my people who are not only hearing from me, they’re hearing from their customers, they’re hearing from other people in our business. You can only focus on so many things, you can only be impactful if you are really focused and you can only focus on probably three things, right?” Gigi Schumm, Senior VP of Sales, Special Ep. 008, The Sales Game Changers Podcast

That’s a really powerful message to sales leaders. As a leader, you have a responsibility to filter out the noise for your team. You must help them focus and prioritize.

Gain Some Clarity Around Your Goals

How can women in sales gain clarity around their goals? How do you filter out the noise and distill only the necessary and important information? By learning the art of goal setting.

How to Set Great Goals and Priorities

First, you need to set aside time to map out a few goals. Christine recommended 3-5 focuses, and this is true whether we’re talking about skills or goals. No one is good at everything, and no one can achieve everything. Shut down those 14 different sources and think about what matters to you.

Many people believe they have long-term goals. What these goals lack is a clear roadmap to achieve them. So be prepared to set your long-term goals and then create a clear roadmap to get there. There will be multiple short-term goals you’ll need to achieve before you become a sales team manager, or (looking further ahead) a VP of Sales.

People laud the SMART goal method, and it’s used everywhere, from personal to business goal setting. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Another trendy goal-setting acronym is HARD (Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult). Whichever process you use to frame your goals, be sure to pair every goal with an action task. These methods can help you create your goals, but don’t get so lost in the process that you have no clear way forward. In this situation, a trusted mentor can really help you.

In the end, you’re the only one responsible for your career’s success. You must take the time to define what your success looks like. Once you know where you’re going, you can chart your way forward. You’ll make informed decisions about the actions needed to get you there.

If you have the goal of being a leader in sales, the Institute for Excellence in Sales Women in Sales Leadership Forum may be just the place for you. The forum will be driven by world-class women sales leaders and is an opportunity you can’t miss.