"Sales Goal Too High? Just Quit."
03/26//24 Edition Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

I’m in the contract office furniture business – to put a fine point on it, I work for a manufacturer.

I am a regional sales manager, and my 2024 sales goal is insane.  I’ve been going back and forth with my boss, the VP of Sales, on the goal since the last quarter of 2023. All my sales reps that I have to pass higher sales goals on to are complaining as well and some, I am sure, are “out looking.” We have a good team, but they don’t take kindly to my request to “do the math” - if my goal goes up than their goals must go up as well.

I’ve had discussions with my boss and his bosses on how there are fewer commercial leases being signed in our region, and many other reasons why our sales are not going to grow more than 10% in 2024 - if even that much. Yet, nobody is listening… I’ve been told my sales goal is “open for discussion…” but it’s already the end of Q1 and nothing has changed. Nor is there any discussion going on. The bottom line is that the people above me seem to be going full steam ahead, and there’s no compromising when it comes to the numbers that were set up at the end of 2023.

In 2024, I’m afraid, I’m not going to make any additional money above my base salary. What should I do?

Sleepless in Sales
Dear Sleepless in Sales,

Today, when company leadership refuses to negotiate on a sales goal with a sales manager (or a sales rep for that matter), and it exceeds 10% of last year’s sales goal, my advice is that it’s worth looking for a new job.

Remember, as I’ve said many times before in this space, this is the best time in workplace history to be looking for a new job, because there are plenty of them!

Here is a new tip for everyone in sales: Negotiate less on the salary and spend more energy negotiating your sales goals and incentives. Don’t misunderstand me – a strong base salary is important, but if you’re really good in sales and sales leadership - then you know - the most important part of making more money is to be able to make a really good commission, bonus, or incentive by having an achievable sales goal! And then exceeding it.

Most companies work on a calendar year which means January is the start of that year – so I can understand why your upper management is just forging ahead. It would be unusual for a company to be negotiating goals three months into the year. And frankly, its insincere on their part to lead you on about the possibility of re-negotiating your goal. It’s done – it’s fully baked! Besides, chances are your bosses are complaining about their sales goal just as much as you are, so start looking buddy.

For you readers that work for #MillerKnoll, or any of its subsidiaries, you’re probably aware that your fiscal year is about to turn over on May 31st and discussions about sales goals are heating up, so keep my advice in mind when you get your new goal. If you’re not happy with it, I’m not going to feel bad for you if you don’t try and re-negotiate the goal, the very minute you get it! Hey, #MLKN stock has been rising, and so should your own income. I say go for it! (This paragraph applies to my MillerKnoll readers only).

As for the rest of you, the reason it’s a great time to look for a new job is because candidates continue to control the market in 2024- at least so for now - but this will not last.

For everyone in sales, if you feel you are handed a sales goal that is unrealistic, no matter if you are a sales rep or a manager; meet with your boss and be prepared with historical sales numbers and current market info. Be blunt and explain that if the company is unwilling to negotiate for a reduction in the revenue goal, you’re going to need to start looking for a new job. Fair warning, some bosses may decide to tell you to take a hike, but smart bosses today will reduce the sales goal. Why? Because they don’t want to lose you, they fully realize it’s going to cost twice as much time and money to replace you. They’ll have to train the new, unproven, person who they had to pay more money to get, plus give them a “sign-on” bonus… And pay a fee to some headhunter like me. Trust me – you’ve got the negotiating edge.

So, assuming you’re good at your job, the chances are that they are going to want you to stay. In the meantime, however, you should be polishing up that resume and getting it to me, and every other headhunter because your next job could be waiting just right around the corner.


#MillerKnoll #MLKN #Sales #NeoCon #Salone #Steelcase #Humanscale