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Matching personal, company goals
Question and Answer
Dave Kahle
Dave Kahle

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

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 sales person, but a basic agreement on the issues on which to be focused, 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 sales person and the company differ on the degree of what is possible. The sales person expects a 10 percent increase, while the company thinks 15 percent is reasonable. Both agree sales growth is reasonable, but the amount of growth is the issue. What do you, the sales person, do in this case?

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 sales people 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 we really are in business for ourselves, we own our customers and we know what is best for the company and customer. So, therefore, we become agitated and upset when the company asks for a 15 percent increase and we think 5 percent 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.

So what makes you think you are so special? Answer – nothing. Let’s put the freedom we enjoy and the money 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 sales people, 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.

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