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Use Sales Performance Shifting to Increase Sales Results

Set Your Clock Ahead To Blow Past Your Sales Objectives


Has this ever happened to you?


The clock in your car gets out of whack and is running ten or fifteen minutes fast. One day leads to another and you just haven’t had the chance to reset it yet. “I have got to set that clock”, you repeatedly tell yourself but then go back to driving and forget about it.


Now you are driving to an important meeting…one that you absolutely do not want to be late for. You look over at the clock and realize that you are going to be late for your meeting. Your stomach gets a sick feeling as you put the foot on the gas pedal and accelerate immediately as an instinctive reaction. “Oh, my God”, you say, “I am going to be late.”

Then you remember that your clock is fast…you are still on schedule. Your heart stops racing a little bit, and the nerves are eased. But even though you have reconciled with yourself that the clock is fast, each time you look at it on your way to the meeting you still get a little bit stressed and go just a little faster.


Clock awareness is a psychological thing…we see the time, and our mind gives it meaning. “You are late”, the mind tells you. Speeding up is an instinctive reaction to the time seen on the clock. In sales management, we want to do the same thing for our reps: Connect to the mind to create awareness, and allow their instinct to use this awareness to accelerate their sales.


At Sage Warfield, we have developed, tested, and proven a method to increase sales by “setting the clock ahead”. We call it “Sales Performance Shifting” or SPS, and it has the same effect on accelerating sales as setting the clock ahead has on accelerating the car.


Before getting into how sales performance shifting works, let’s digress for a minute to identify how many sales organizations currently pursue sales objectives.


The sales objective or quota is established for a given reporting period. The reps focus is on this number as they pursue their objective. Since their focus in on this number it is rare that they will surpass it by much if at all. The focus is the target, and we rarely overshoot a target.

What generally happens each reporting period is that a small percentage of reps will surpass the number by more than 10%, about half will be at or near the number +/- 10%, and the remaining reps will be below the number. When the dust settles, the sales organization hovers around the number but rarely blows it away.


It’s not magic or coincidence that sales teams hover around the number. That was the target provided to them, so that’s where they aimed. Why would anyone jump six feet forward when the target was set at only four feet?


Corporate executives know this strategy better than anyone. This is why they sometimes use financial padding between the number given to the VP of sales and their pro-forma sales projections given to the board. Savvy Chief Sales Officers and VP’s of sales know this as well, and they sometimes protect themselves by padding the number given to their sales leaders. But you rarely see the division sales leader pad the number given to sales managers and ultimately the reps.

Why? There could be many reasons, but the most common is that there is so much padding on top of the number already that if they inflated it any further it could demoralize the sales force. So, they shoot for the number and hope for the best.


Keep in mind that there is a difference between a sales objective and a sales goal.


The sales objective is used as a benchmark to administrate compensation plans, and is also supposed to be the minimum requirement for keeping a job.


The sales goal, on the other hand, is the focal point or target that you want the reps and front-line sales managers focusing on each reporting period.


Most sales leaders don’t differentiate between the two, but if they did it would have a huge impact on their sales results.


This is where sales performance shifting comes into play. Sales performance shifting is the establishment of a sales goal which is much higher than the sales objective. All of the focus and energy is directed toward the SPS, and after a few short weeks the performance shifted goal has become the new standard….the new 100%.


Here is how sales performance shifting is implemented:


• Establish a performance shifted objective by multiplying the sales objective by the sales goal amount

o We recommend at least 150% to objective. Therefore, if the sales objective is $1,000 per day, we set the performance shifted goal to $1500.

 • Post sales whiteboards in a highly visible location in the office for the purpose of recording their daily and reporting period results to date

 • Require the reps to post their sales on the sales board each day relative to the sales goal---NEVER allow them to post results relative to the sales objective. That number is something we don’t want to reference again in the course of daily sales business.

 • When they post, they should post their daily results, their reporting period results, and their percentage to both


o EXAMPLE: Daily sales objective is $1,000 so the daily sales goal is $1,500. In a ten day reporting period, the goal is $15,000. So on day one of a reporting period, if a rep had $1,000 in sales the board would look like this:


 Day 1: 1000/1500 = 67%

 PP (pay Period): 1000/15000 = 6.7%


 • Require that, in addition to the sales board, the reps call the sales manager and voicemail the exact same numbers that are on the sales board. Here is an example:


o "Hi Tina, this is Brian and here are my numbers for Day 1 of the period. I closed two deals for a total of $1000 in sales. I am 67% to goal for the day, and 6.7% to goal for the period."


 • Some managers “self-elect” not to require the voicemail in addition to the sales board posting. We discourage this practice. The voicemail adds an additional element of personal ownership and accountability which assists in improving the reps performance. This is an important part of the process of performance shifting.


In the example above, you can see that what used to be a good day is now below standard. Psychologically, they will push harder to make up lost ground the next day and each day after that because sales people thrive on winning and achievement, and at a minimum wants to hit their new performance shifted objective.

Speeding up your sales force using sales performance shiftingSales target with three darts in targetBag of cash labeled Long jumper selevating performance to exceed objective

Performance shifting not only elevates performance, but it also makes good sense as well. If the sales objective is the minimum performance requirement necessary to keep your job as a rep or sales manager (as it is supposed to be), why would you ever focus on the minimum?


In other words, if you get to keep your job at 100% and you lose it at 99%, would you be willing to risk your job by focusing on selling the minimum? Of course you wouldn’t. In order to preserve your livelihood, you would set a target well above what you need to survive in your job. As a sales manager, this is the message that you need to communicate to the team when implementing performance shifting.


Just like setting the clock ahead, it takes reps three to four weeks to get used to the performance shifted standard. It is important that the sales manager not waiver from this process in order for it to be ingrained into their psyche. Once deeply rooted, it becomes a normal part of their quest for sales excellence.


Performance shifting is a gift to all sales representatives and sales managers. Once adopted, they will enjoy much greater job satisfaction and a significant boost to their income.

Posted April 12, 2013   /   By  Chris Hickey

Tags: sales coaching, sales leadership, sales management, sales management training, sales turnaround, turnaround management, sales consulting, sales management coaching, interim sales management, sales force effectiveness, sales coaching, sales consultant, sales coaching

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