What’s the successful sales manager’s magic word?

Buffer.

Building buffer buys benefits for the sales manager.

I mean buffer in a money sense, not a time sense. Building a buffer into deadlines is always wise, regardless of your profession, to insure against the inevitable slips, trips and falls on the journey.

You should always have a buffer between your team target and the total of your people’s individual targets, because not everyone is going to hit target every month. Even in well-performing companies you might see a third-third-third split between those above target, those around target and those below target.

For example, to keep the maths easy, let’s assume you have 5 sales people on your team, each with a sales quota of $1,000,000 per year. Industry variances aside, your team target should be in the region of $4,000,000. Similarly, your sales director, if they have 3 managers with the same team target reporting into them, should have a sales organisation target of around $10,000,000. And so on, through the roll-up to the top person.

You want your people to hit target, and your Director wants you to hit target. That’s how successful companies retain successful sales professionals, rather than creating a constant need to replace churning staff.

Notice that I’m not talking about forecast buffer here. Building padding into your forecast makes it really difficult for the company to do meaningful measurement and planning.

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