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RAB Sales Tips

Setting and Achieving Higher Goals

In our final Leadership MasterClass of 2021 last week, we discussed ideas and best practices for budgeting for 2022. Bottom-up goal setting has been my preference ever since my manager and I had this conversation when I was a new sales rep:

Bill: How much do you want to make next year?

Jeff: $100,000.

Bill: What would you do if you made that kind of money?

Jeff: I want to buy a new car.

Bill: What kind of car?

Jeff: Mercedes Benz S500.

Bill:: Hang a picture of that car on your wall.

That was the conversation I had with my manager. We did the math. Based on our commission structure, I would need to sell $512,000 to make $100,000. It felt like a huge goal. I started calculating one client at $512,000, 2 clients at $256,000, 8 clients at $64,000 and so on. Once I had the big number, I broke it down into smaller numbers. Billing $512,000 in a year seemed like a daunting task, but finding 16 clients to spend roughly $2,500 a month with me seemed more than achievable.

Edwin Locke from the University of Maryland, and Gary Latham from the University of Toronto, spent years researching goals and goal setting. They created the "Goal Setting Theory." It shows a clear relationship between goals and performance:

High goals lead to greater effort and/or persistence than do moderately difficult, easy or vague goals.

Goals direct attention, effort and action toward goal-relevant actions at the expense of nonrelevant actions.

Because performance is a function of both ability and motivation, goal effects also depend upon having the requisite task knowledge and skills.

Goals may simply motivate one to use one's existing ability, or they may automatically "pull" stored task-relevant knowledge into awareness and/or may motivate people to search for new knowledge.

There can be no doubt about the impact of goals on performance. At RAB, we teach S.M.A.R.T goal setting:

Specific - “Sell more than last year” doesn’t cut it. Billing $512,000 next year is specific.

Measurable - Review each day, week and month. Progress towards the goal.

Achievable - Even if it’s not easy, it must be something that you can achieve.

Relevant - There must be a personal and “emotional” reason for achieving the goal.

Time-Bound - Goals have a specific measurement period. (Monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.)

WARNING: Good goals are based on good information. Do not set goals for the future until you have examined the past.

Locke and Latham suggest there are other components to goal achievement beyond just setting them. We'll share that tomorrow.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB