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What do I do when my goals don't match the company's goals for me?

This is a question from our recent Virtual Seminar on setting goals. Since I hear this, in one form or another, almost every month, I'd thought it would be worth responding to again.

I can look at this is in two ways - expressing two different situations. In the first, there is a legitimate difference in the expectations for a salesperson, but a basic agreement on the issues to be focused on, as well as the values of the organization. In the second, there is a deeper and more significant difference of opinion.

Let's consider each separately. In the first scenario, the salesperson and the company differ on the degree of what is possible. The salesperson expects a 10% increase, while the company thinks 15% is reasonable. Both agree that sales growth is reasonable, but the amount of growth is the issue. What do you, the salesperson, do in this case?

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Persuade and negotiate. Try to convince your boss that your perspective is more accurate than his/hers. Don't just assert that, be convincing. Back up your beliefs with substance. Describe specific situations and accounts, and explain why you think about them the way you do. Prove your point.

At some point in this process, there is going to be a resolution. There will be a quota or a goal. Whether it is your idea of what it should be, or your manager's version, or some compromise, it doesn't matter. At that point, when the issue is resolved and the number is set, your job is to give all of your best efforts to doing what your company wants you to do.

You are, after all, an employee of the company. Your job is to do what your company wants you to do. That's what they pay you for.

Sometimes salespeople can get a little too convinced of their own importance. I succumbed to that temptation more than once when I was selling full time. We think that we really are in business for ourselves, that we own our customers, and that we know what is best for the company and the customer. So, therefore, we become agitated and upset when the company asks for a 15% increase and we think 5% is reasonable. We are tempted to go off mumbling under our breath about the screwy management, and we decide we are going to do what we want to do instead.

A little reality check is in order under these circumstances. If you worked in the warehouse, would you be able to decide what you wanted to do today? If you were a customer service rep, would you get to determine how best to spend your day, and which parts of your job you'd really do? If you were in the purchasing department, if you didn't like the company's direction, would you have the freedom to ignore it?

So what makes you think you are so special? Answer -- nothing. Let's put the freedom that we enjoy and the money that we make in perspective. We are, when all is said and done, employees of the company. And, I believe, we have a moral obligation to give our best efforts to that company for as long as we accept a paycheck.

Which brings us to the second situation. You have some major difference of opinion in not only the degree of what is expected, but a deep seated difference of opinion in the basic issues themselves. I'm not talking about issues like you think you need to focus on your current customers and your company wants you to sell new customers. Those are relatively superficial issues that fit into the previous discussion.

Instead, I'm talking about differences in fundamental values and ethics. Here's an example from my own experience. I once worked for a company that introduced a new product, and developed a quota for each of us to sell that product. The problem was, the product never worked. It didn't do what the company said it was going to do. We, the salespeople, knew it, and the company knew it. Yet, they still wanted us to sell it. We were given quotas and strongly directed to go out and get orders at all costs. They directed us to, in effect, lie to our customers.

I left the company shortly thereafter.

The issue wasn't "Do I sell 100 or 130 of these?" That's an issue of degree. Instead, the issue was, "Do I lie to my customers?" That's an ethical issue. If it's an ethical issue, then I think you have only one choice. Find another job. Life is too short to spend it violating your ethics and compromising your integrity.

Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave's training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.

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