The pros and cons of challenging sales targets – are these good motivators?

The pros and cons of challenging sales targets – are these good motivators?

My name is Sonja, and I am a hunter.  At least, this is how every company who ever employed me in a sales position, labelled me.  I beg to differ.  I am naturally inclined to farm, yet occasionally I do enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

In a nutshell, sales reps are split into two groups – hunters and farmers.  Normally, “hunters” are driven by challenging sales targets, and a desire to make heaps of money.  Farmers get to babysit the clients after the fact and “on-sell” or “up-sell”.  They also have targets to chase, which may or may not differ from those of the hunters.  It all depends on the company you are working for.  I’ve seen the chaos and backstabbing created in sales teams when challenging targets are set by Sales Managers, who don’t manage the process and outcome correctly.  FACT – Salespeople are by nature emotional creatures, so there is a thin line between creating an environment of motivation vs one of utter demoralisation when targets are not met.

If your sales reps only have one goal — meeting their sales targets — they’re selling themselves and your business short (literally).  The last week of the sales month can lead to a very cold-blooded, hard core approach to sales, if targets are way off.  This can have a negative consequence on client retention, for instance.  Your hunters are going in for the kill, and your normally-gentler-by-nature farmers starts to become bloodthirsty. This rings even more true when basic compensation is affected if targets are not met.  The looming idea of not being able to pay your rent because your basic won’t cover your expenses, does not motivate a person to work harder.  Rather it drives a person to either crumple in defeat or do what is wrong.

Salesperson

 

 So how do you set targets to motivate?  I can easily launch into a list of a day long here, but someone once said to me “Keep it simple Susan”.  Yes, he got my name wrong, but twenty years later, I still remember those words when I find myself in a heap of distress.  When I was a Sales Manager, I got my team to focus on the following three motivators to chase challenging targets and stay motivated:

 

Celebrate the small wins

Start by holding your reps accountable to smaller weekly or monthly goals, and you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll slay the “Beast Target”.

Smaller weekly targets allow sales reps to build confidence and keep focus.  This way individuals and teams can track progress towards the Big Hairy Audacious Goal, and it helps the manager to quickly identify reps who are not performing.  Swift intervention is now possible as to identify whether there is a “lazy rep” issue or a real problem, like an external factor making it impossible for the individual to reach their target.

An article published by Harvard Business School found that https://hbr.org/2019/07/setting-better-sales-goals-with-analytics is particularly helpful.

One of the key missteps highlighted in this article states “organizations often lose top sales talent because of target setting that penalizes success. One common misstep is using past performance as a yardstick. If a top performer overshoots her annual target by 20%, her next year’s target is set at 120% of the current year’s — while next year’s target for a rep who achieves just 90% of this year’s target remains unchanged. Not surprisingly, top performers find this unfair and often jump ship.”

 

Adjust for changing market conditions

In a failing economy, many companies drastically reduce spending on all levels, and it could affect a sales rep’s ability to meet her target. Take for example, cutting cell phone and fuel allowances.  If I can’t make the calls or get to my clients, I can’t make the sales.

Losing a key client because of the economy is almost like slitting your own throat.  Boy do you bleed!

Changes in technology and competition from newer, innovative products and services can seemingly saturate a market overnight.  If the target isn’t adjusted for market conditions, ACTUALLY REACHING the target, is as far fetched as Jack climbing that beanstalk while the giant is standing at the bottom chopping away at the stem with a big old axe.

 

Set Activity Goals

This will teach a rep to stay in touch with new clients at least once a month and build that relationship.  People buy from people they like and trust.  Eventually it will all add up to the monetary targets.  Getting to know your client becomes a great motivation to not just make the sale, but to also retain and grow the client.  A lot more emphasis should be placed on this aspect.  KNOW YOUR CLIENT!  Honestly, it makes the business of chasing those targets a lot more fun.

I do believe that the world of sales has changed radically over the past 10 years.  The one thing which remain unchanged though is the sales target….and it is ALWAYS challenging.  As the old saying goes “If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen”.  Even if you work for the most awesome company, being in sales demands a very particular set of skills backed up by a kind of crazy personality that thrives on pressure.

Happy selling!

Positive thinking is critical right now

Positive thinking is critical right now

Globally we are all experiencing lockdown in some way or another due to the pandemic. It’s certainly a weird time for most of us and worrying as well. Anytime we are forced out of our routine and habits, we have opportunities for growth. Resilience is now, more than ever, a critical skill as our lives are affected not just by what happens to us but how we choose to respond to those events.

 

What is positive thinking?

Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude of expecting good and favourable results, and not getting discouraged when plans do not proceed as expected. It means trying over again and not accepting defeat. It is an attitude of focusing on the good and positive in a situation, and not on the negative. With this frame of mind, you don’t accept defeat, and do not allow anything negative to affect your mood and state of mind.

A lot of people assume because you have a positive mind, everything in your life is great. I can assure you this is not how it works. Life happens, and we are all going to experience struggles, fears, insecurities and flaws. But being positive isn’t about a life without those things. It’s about learning how to move past them and keep going even when it gets tough.

It feels good to approach life from a positive perspective. If you want to start behaving in a more positive way, then you have to start with your thoughts. Your thoughts affect how you feel and behave in any situation.

 

Negative Thinking

When you think negatively, your energy is very low. Being sad or upset drains your energy from you and robs you from doing the things you want to do. It becomes very easy to avoid engaging in activities that you make you feel good or benefit your life.  If you feel that seeing the bad in everything is your default setting, then experts say you have to think positive thoughts to counteract the negative and do this on repeat until the brain can feel more positive. It’s all about ‘rewiring’ your brain so what you do habitually leans more strongly towards the positive than the negative. Negative thinking can be terribly intrusive on your day. Negative thoughts can set up camp in your brain and crowd out any other positive thoughts, sometimes leaving you feeling low and depleted. Negative self-talk and thinking can be a hard pattern to break but that does not mean that it is impossible.

 

Positive Thinking

When you think positively, your energy increases. Positive thinking does not mean that you have to completely ignore negative events in your life or the emotions that accompany them. It is normal to experience hardships and have an emotional response. Rather, positive thinking means that you believe that the hard times will not last forever, and trust that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even when going through a challenging period. This keeps the negativity from greatly impacting your life.

 

Conclusion

Thinking positively can help reduce stress. It helps you to look at a situation with a new perspective. It helps you to see failure as an obstacle, not a dead end. And it helps you to stay calm, even in the midst of an ugly situation.

What every Virtual Assistant really wants for Christmas

What every Virtual Assistant really wants for Christmas

They say hard work pays off and I thought about what I need that can make the “pay off” so much sweeter.  As VA I realised I need a gift registry to make my life easier, and why not for Christmas.  Family and Friends, please look up and take notes!

As the holidays are getting closer, I think a bit of spoiling is always a nice way to show appreciation towards the people that are working for you.  Not that Christmas is a time for presents, but rather spending a relaxing time with family and friends.  Show love and appreciation and remember to take care of yourself and others.  And as VA, I will still log in and make sure my clients are taking care of, because during the year they showed appreciation with kind words and emails.

They say hard work pays off and I thought about what I need that can make the “pay off” so much sweeter.  As VA I realised, I need a gift registry to make my life easier, and why not for Christmas.  Family and Friend, please look up and take notes!

Everyday technology to make our life easier

Apple’s list is endless, but here are a few items I would love to have.  You can shop online if the rush of Christmas is too much for your nerves (I prefer this option).   Click here for online shopping

  • The Apple watch: You can walk, be in a shop, in the car, even at home and never miss a call or text. We know VA’s need to be ready and available all the time.
  • The Laptop MacBook: With this compact and beautiful design you will look and feel professional and your work can travel with you anywhere.
  • With the Logitech 1080P desktop camera, you can speak face to face with your client and for group online meetings, no more wondering how your clients look. Just remember, you should always look your best, test the camera and view yourself before login 🙂
  • The Blue Vet microphone for that host of podcasts so that you can make clear recordings.

My choice for the Virtual Assistant’s time to relax

As I struggle to switch off, the following 2 ways still make me take a back seat and relax:

  • Kindle for those VA’s that loves reading and the choice in books they can get right there.
  • Airpods: And when you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, put on your airpods, listen to binaural beats and iTunes, and let Apple swift you away to dreamland.

For office gift ideas

  • Please buy me a good office chair for comfortable work.
  • Desk with enough space to work on and enough file space for filing.
  • Foot stool for those long hours just for comfort.
  • Lamp that has enough light.
  • Massive dry erase board if you’re the one that likes to keep an eye on your work.
  • Coffee mug warmer, for those long hours VA’s spend in front of computer or desk and sometimes get up only for a little while.

Business gifts

Investing in your Virtual Assistant and their business is sometimes the best investment you can make, so by encouraging them you can give them the next jump in your business.

Extra paid vacation

VA’s do need time and that always helps to stimulate them for the next workload and show them your trust in them.

And then just for something to consider even if it is not for a Virtual Assistant

For the ladies:

  • Shopping gift cards because some ladies do like to shop.
  • Massage gift card, for a relaxing time of no thinking.
  • Fitbit, so that your VA knows you care about their wellbeing and health.
  • Hair gift card, ladies like looking and feeling good and it gives us a boost.

For the men

  • A fishing trip, depends on how well you know your VA.
  • Sport tickets, so that they can entertain themselves.
  • Shopping gift card, men like looking neat in an outfit.
  • Airbnb gift card, so he can take a break for a weekend.
  • Nice watch, men like looking sleek.
  • Some other gifts can be found here

As the holidays are getting closer, I think a bit of spoiling is always a nice way to show appreciation towards the people that are working for you.  Not that Christmas is a time for presents, but rather spending a relaxing time with family and friends.  Show love and appreciation and remember to take care of yourself and others.  And as VA, I will still log in and make sure my clients are taking care of, because during the year they showed appreciation with kind words and emails.

Tips for clients on how to best work with your Virtual Assistant

Tips for clients on how to best work with your Virtual Assistant

As a Virtual Assistant (VA), we receive regular training and guidance on how to work remotely and how to work with clients that we don’t see day to day, if ever. There is quite a difference in how we work as opposed to a member of staff located in your office.

The most important aspect of working virtually is communication. Good and regular communication with your employer is key to ensure a good working relationship and to manage expectations.

Whilst it is vitally important that VAs fully understand how to work in the virtual world, it is also important that their clients know how best to work with their VA. The world of Virtual Assistants is relatively new.  Many new clients who take on a VA for the very first time are not experienced in this new working relationship.

Here are some tips for clients wanting to get the most out of their Virtual Assistant.

  • Have an introductory call with your VA via phone or even better Skype so that you can get to know each other ‘in person’ before you start working together. Going forward it is likely that you will communicate mainly electronically via email, WhatsApp etc. but talking initially is an ice breaker and helps both parties feel at ease with each other.
  • Discuss and decide early on what will be your main method of communication. Email is the most common means of business communication but if you prefer to use other communication tools such as Slack or WhatsApp then discuss this with your VA so that they can download any new apps or tools that they need.
  • Identify all online tools and packages that you will need your Virtual Assistant to use so that they can download anything they don’t already have and establish if any training is needed. Remember that VA’s are flexible, experienced in using a range of tools and can train themselves online if necessary. Just ensure you set out your expectations early to allow time for them to familiarise themselves with tools ahead of being immersed in the work.
  • Send your VA an outline of your expectations and a list of relevant work and responsibilities they are going to be working on.
  • Establish your VA’s daily availability and your expectations regarding availability. If you are paying for a certain number of hours of work a day, your assistant will only be able to work for this set amount of time. If you have a large project coming up and are going to need extra support, inform your VA as soon as possible and discuss their availability and the additional cost of them carrying out extra hours of work for you.
  • If your VA is based in another country, then they are likely to have different public holidays. Ask them to brief you on when they will be unavailable to work due to public holidays so that you can both plan accordingly. And also brief them when your public holidays are and what you expect to happen on those days.
  • It is a good idea to have weekly meetings with your VA so you can both stay up to date about work progress, upcoming requirements and to discuss any issues that may arise. Including your VA in team meetings via a Skype/conference call helps them feel included and part of the team which is likely to help motivation.
  • Ask you VA for a weekly email update with a summary of the week’s work and progress with any projects they are working on.
  • Communicate regularly. Check in with your VA daily if possible even if it is a cursory email or message. Keep your assistant informed of your whereabouts (holidays etc).

Remember each client/VA working relationship is different and all have different requirements. The underlying theme is that good communication is key to get the most out of your Virtual Assistant.

The Secret Reason You Want Women in Top Leadership and Executive Positions in Your Company

The Secret Reason You Want Women in Top Leadership and Executive Positions in Your Company

The Secret Reason You Want Women in Top Leadership and Executive Positions in Your Company

 

When it comes to business, everyone from the entrepreneur to big corporates needs to listen up and take note of this interesting development in the business world. Although the number of women in executive roles in companies is often limited to a single-digit percentage, studies are increasingly proving that if companies want to increase their profit, they need to rethink their strategy on gender diversity within the company.

 

Why it’s important to have gender diversity in your company.

In January 2018, McKinsey & Company published their 42-page report Delivering through Diversity on their findings with regards to valuable aspects of this very topic. They found that “Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.”

I don’t know about you, but this statistic really had me sitting up straight. So often we as women don’t even realize the importance of our contribution to the business environment. We often focus so extensively on get the job done despite facing challenges, raising families and contributing to our communities that we undervalue ourselves. I, of course, am of the opinion, that if we don’t know and acknowledge our worth first, no one else will.

 

Personal challenges women face that are featuring in executive leadership roles globally

It goes without saying that featuring in these executive roles brings challenges of their own for these successful women. Just like a normal wife and mother she has duties to fulfil that lie outside her corporate duties. The reality is that their male counterparts, especially those without children rarely understand the extreme stress and challenges these women face and they rarely have empathy for women in these situations.

 

What type of support do they need?

It doesn’t need to limit women’s opportunities to excel in the business environment. As women, we can support each other to better achieve our individual goals. Handling personal finances, paying bills, diary management, travel arrangements, event planning, holiday itineraries, the list goes on… The fun part for me is knowing that there’s always a solution for these types of challenges. And no, it’s not a personal assistant, but rather a Virtual Assistant. Both may have similar skillsets but there’s a fundamental difference between a personal assistant and a Virtual Assistant. That difference is mindset!  A personal assistant is invaluable but has the mindset of an employee. The right Virtual Assistant is an entrepreneur in her own right, so she already has a growth mindset, a get the job done attitude. A no-excuses mentality. She is focused on results!

 

Stronger together

It’s so important for us as women to empower each other the reach our goals and dreams. It’s within our grasp if we support each other. There’s no shame in getting help. We don’t have to do everything ourselves. We just need to know where to get the right assistance. As mothers and wives, we often face this tremendous guilt when it comes to our jobs and families. We are always spreading ourselves too thin. Feeling guilty if we need to take time away from work to spend with our children or families. Even taking your child for a dental appointment can seem like a mountain.

My suggestion? Get that trusted support that will free up your time so you can focus on the quality events in your family, children and work. Value yourself and your loved ones enough to let go of some things.

Let’s celebrate each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses. Together there are no limits to what we can accomplish!