Using Goals as the Building Blocks of Success
Feb 21, 2020
Written By: Melinda Johnson
Category: Beer Sales Best Practices

2: Goals and Targets

Lilypad Beer Sales Best Practices Series

This is the second article in the Lilypad Beer Sales Best Practices Series and Ebook curated from conversations with industry pros. The first five chapters have been released on the Lilypad blog and the next five chapters were released in an ebook in April 2020.

Every year in January, millions of people across the globe set goals in the form of resolutions. From “I’m going to watch my diet and work out more,” to “I’m going to travel more,” and everything in between. We set them up and hope they stick. They become the mile markers that serve as continued motivation. They remind us of the finish line, even when it’s nowhere in sight or turns out to be a moving target. Everyone, even if only on a basic level, understands the motivational premise and benefits of setting and working towards goals.

However, we questioned if goals in business could be more than just motivational mile markers towards a seemingly arbitrary finish line. We wanted to know if, as a sales manager, goals could be leveraged to build upon the crucial criteria of “accountability, transparency, and support” we discussed in last week’s article about sustainable cultural and organizational growth.

The overwhelming answer we got was, yes, they can! Our panelists had some great insights on how to view and use goals as more than just a generic motivational tactic. In fact, proper implementation and review of goals have the potential to positively impact everything from rep engagement, closing percentage, market influence, and even product quality.

Each of your reps are different, and the same is true for your markets. So, with so many variables to consider, it can feel like an overwhelming challenge to successfully create and implement goals for your team. The reality is, there’s simply no “one size fits all” when it comes to the goals process, and you have to walk a fine line between driving sales and discouraging your team. Setting unattainable goals with no checks and balances can leave reps feeling like they are “on an island,” and as we discussed in part one of this series, that feeling is the enemy of successful distributed teams. Unchecked reps with unrealistic goals tend to throw quality and consistency to the wind. That is why it is so important to have strong guidelines and still recognize the differing, individualistic needs of your reps and your markets.

Chris Russell, Vice President of Sales for CANarchy, emphasized this point well during our discussion panel. Chris shared how, with eight regions to manage, CANarchy understands the need to allow their Regional Directors flexibility when setting goals and expectations as it pertains to their regions. This understanding doesn’t deter from creating a basic framework that their goals can easily tie back to, though. As an organization, the higher-level understanding of what’s needed to achieve your business objectives can be used to create that framework, while still allowing team members the freedom to own the creation and execution of their individual goals.

“There are obviously guidelines, and we need to have consistency across the board, and things like account visits, price surveys, and distributor work-with’s are extremely important, so we always make sure goals tie back to those.”
Chris Russell, Vice President of Sales, CANarchy

Meghan Zachry, Director of Sales for Two Roads Brewing, expanded on this point further. Meghan described that they basically have three monthly goals for their sales teams at Two Roads. The first is an “on-premise distribution” goal. The second is an “off-premise distribution” goal. While the third is always a “custom” goal that’s specifically made for each of the sales managers.

“We create a custom goal for each of our sales managers that allows them to have the most impact on their market. It might be getting the seasonal out before the next one comes in, it might be displays, but really it is catering to what that market needs, because every market isn’t the same.”
Meghan Zachry, Director of Sales, Two Roads Brewing

In both of these examples, you can see a consistent structure blending with the individual rep and market needs to create goals that are not just achievable for the individual, but also beneficial for the business. By creating these goals, the reps have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for. You’re setting up a state of transparency by creating observable expectations.

Naomi Neville, Sales Director from Allagash Brewing, takes goals beyond account visits or closing percentages.

The Allagash team. Taken from their website.

“A really big part of what we also goal our sales team on is doing QC in the trade inspections.”
Naomi Neville, Sales Director, Allagash Brewing Company

By setting goals around QC (quality control) inspections, they create a brand standard and an expectation that their reps don’t just sell the product, they intimately know it.

“They’re not only looking at the beer, tasting the beer, and smelling the beer, they’re also going back into a keg room and finding out what the date of that beer is.”
Naomi Neville, Sales Director, Allagash Brewing Company

Naomi states that these visits play a tremendous role in ensuring that the beer customers are drinking out in California is the same great tasting Allagash beer that was brewed in Maine. To do this, they set a QC goal for their reps to hit five Allagash White draft beer account visits a month, collect the QC data from those visits through Lilypad, and assess that data back at Allagash HQ.

“We want to make sure that the consumer and the retailer are getting the best quality beer they can.”
Naomi Neville, Sales Director, Allagash Brewing Company

But, like a well thought out New Year’s resolution, goals will fall flat without effective communication and tracking.

Enter Lilypad.

Through the Lilypad app you can create meaningful goals for your sales team by setting activity expectations and measure their success without being Big Brother. Then, because the reps have the ability to review their goal progress in real-time, they can gain a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. With this kind of transparency, reps will take ownership of their goals and overall business success becomes a concerted team effort. Plus, the more reps you have using a tool like Lilypad, the easier it is for you to pull detailed reports that drill down into individual successes. Like Jason Ingram, the National Sales Director of Left Hand Brewing said during our panel, you can track the things your reps can control and coach them accordingly.

“We’re able to identify [success] with Lilypad, and we were never able to do that prior.”
Jason Ingram, National Sales Director, Left Hand Brewing

As a manager, success is about continuing to find ways to create a space where accountability, transparency, and support are present. As expressed by our panelists, goals can be a powerful tool to help mold that space. You can’t just assume that your reps know what you’re looking for or that they all work at the same pace, and you can’t curate the safe environment that we discussed as necessary for cultural growth without first building a framework for meaningful and intentional goal setting. If you learn to see goals as your building blocks, then you’ll be able to better leverage your team’s hard work into market domination

So how do you use goals to set expectations for your team and ultimately move the needle when it comes to entering new markets? Stay tuned to find out in our next blog release!

Actionable takeaways:

  • Create consistent goals based on what your reps can control (i.e. account visits & closing percentages).
  • Consider implementing QC goals to help increase your reps’ understanding of the product, visibility into quality across multiple markets, and ensure the best experience possible for consumers.
  • Review your goals with your team often so they become more than just motivational tactics. They will become teachable moments and learning opportunities for both you and your reps.
  • Implement tools that make goal setting, tracking, and reporting easier for both you and your reps. That transparency will drive behavior and align the team.
  • Learn to view goals as the valuable building blocks for creating the space upon which to build your business.

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