Setting Sales Targets: Ostriches Don’t Actually Stick Their Heads in the Sand

September 28th, 2009 by

By Pat Hinds

As a kid growing up, I was told that when an ostrich is scared it would stick its head in the sand for protection; consequently, when I see people who are scared I recall this image. This week I attended a trade show that was focused on the oil & gas industry and the attitude at the show was “scared”. In 2009 companies have seen new orders drop by 40% on average and most companies do not have visibility on when, or to what extent, the market is going to improve in 2010. I felt like I was in the Australian Outback with a bunch of frightened ostriches with their heads buried in the sand. After the show I decided to see if in fact ostriches actually hide their head in the sand and I was surprised to find out it was a myth. Ostriches do not hide their head in the sand when they are threatened by a predator, they do the exact opposite; they use their strongest asset – the ability to run at 60 kms per hour to escape the threats.

As companies prepare for 2010 and set sales targets and budgets, they need to pull their head out of the sand and realize that the economy is not going back to 2007 or 2008 levels any time soon. Companies need to focus on their strongest asset, their people, and put a plan in place allowing them to grow in an economic environment that has resulted in a smaller market opportunity. When I build a vertical market strategy for a company, I establish market opportunity, addressable market, and market share in a vertical or market segments. I work with companies to set goals: to what extent they will increase market share and develop sales and marketing tactics to support the objective.

In a B2Bselling environment companies need to get sales teams running at 60 kms per hour if they want to grow market share and this is done by getting the sales teams to pull their head out of the sand and take ownership in a market share growth plan. An example is a company that I am working with. Their revenue growth is flat and new sales have declined in the target vertical compared to 2007/2008. The sales reps are assigned an named account list that represents multiple verticals and a sales quota, The market share plan takes the vertical research and applies it to the rep level by breaking the accounts into verticals and making the rep aware of the market opportunity in the vertical. Sales reps are asked to establish a market share growth plan within the account base based on strategy, goals and tactics to stimulate growth in the vertical.

Do not put your head in the sand as it is a myth! In defense of a threat, get your head-up, take a look around and use you strongest assets to grow and prosper.

Topics: Sales Consulting