The power of coaching and long-term goal setting with Lever’s Kelly Del Curto

Collin Stewart, CEO

11 July 2019

When you’re in the sales trenches – either as a prospector or an Account Executive – it’s easy to get wrapped up in your numbers. After all, they’re important: it’s a key driver for company growth and, well, a major component of one’s income.  

But your quota isn’t everything, is it? A satisfying career in sales includes more than just crushing your deals – it also includes a future with new challenges, potential promotions, even personal breakthroughs. Our careers are nuanced, living things.

To capitalize on that multifaceted nature, it’s critical to set actionable goals with your reps (at both a team and individual level), as well as implement regular coaching opportunities. These are powerful elements on a sales team that will not only improve your reps performance, but help them in any number of personal situations.

It’s what leadership is all about.

“When I got into leadership, coaching sparked my interest. But when you start coaching it’s hard to know if it’s working.

“So, you need a template or framework to make coaching actionable. It gets people thinking about what else there is other than quota, says Kelly Del Curto, Director of Small Business and Corporate Sales at Lever, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.”

“It really helps motivate and inspire your team. Of course, that template can come in different formats – your team will make it work and resonate for them. Everyone does it for themselves in that way.”

Team goal setting

The first step in Lever’s goal-setting discipline is to set team-wide goals (individual plans flow from these). 

To begin, make sure you have a whiteboard so you can write everything down. Del Curto strongly recommends this as the brainstorming nature of writing a whiteboard really inspires the team to come up with as many ideas as possible.

The session should be led by a manager who, in this respect, acts merely as a scribe and a facilitator. It is critical, adds Del Curto, that managers don’t give their teams goals, but, rather, guides the team to establish their own. 

“Let the team decide what they want to do,” says Del Curto.

“And let them know ahead of time that you plan to do this so they can be ready for the meeting. Don’t be surprised if you get some eye rolls at first  – but by the end the team gets fired up.”

To open the session, Del Curto says the team should craft a team philosophy and mission statement…something the team can define itself by. From there, the team can establish a set of goals they want to accomplish over, say, the next quarter or two. 

It’s important a team have more than one goal – for instance, Del Curto has had teams establish targets such as improving their demos, crushing their quota by 20% (120% over goal), and taking more time to mentor others in the company all at once. This isn’t limited or an exercise in restraint – according to Del Curto, a team should look to establish at least 5 high-level goals.

After that, the team should decide on what Del Curto calls “norms and commitments, another set of guiding principles that the team will adhere to. For example, Del Curto has had teams decide to streamline their demos for an entire quarter in order to hone their pitches. Finally, the team needs to decide on a method to track their progress and keep one another accountable (in meetings? With assigned accountability buddies?)

Individual goal setting 

The team goal is like a guiding light, but, of course, you have to take your rep’s personal goals into consideration. It’s critical you show them you care about what they want to accomplish, in addition to the team.

Again, start with a mission statement that reflects why they like to come to work every day. If it’s to perfect selling, then make sure that objective is reflected in their mission statement (don’t forget: this is a great way to better understand people, and if they aren’t happy, this is a great way to uncover how you can help). 

Then, draft the personal goals. Quota is always a part of this, and so too is the team plan, so Del Curto is always sure to remind her team if they are directly responsible for anything there. 

Next is career growth – how do we get to where you want to go? If your team member is interested in learning about other disciplines, try and surface that in this area because you can then create an action plan to help them realize those interests.

Of course, there will always be “squishy” goals here too (Lever refers to them as “growth edges”) such the ability to say “no” or to stop saying “um” so many times. These are all worthy goals, despite not being exactly quantifiable. 

“The individual goals are a great way to help people’s careers and establish actionable ways to get things done,” says Del Curto, adding that these sessions are best held every quarter in a 1:1 meeting.

The individual goals are a great way to help people’s careers and establish actionable ways to get things done,

says Del Curto, adding that these sessions are best held every quarter in a 1:1 meeting.

And, just like the team goals, do 5 or so here – don’t go too crazy.”

(Editor’s note: we had Keith Cordeiro on the podcast a while back to discuss how a regular meditation practice can do wonders for your sales career. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the whole interview here)

Strengths and saboteurs 

Another awesome title, right? We thought so.

Saboteurs are weaknesses, but there is a very practical way to asses that in this goal-setting framework (Del Curto has her team do the saboteur assessment in tandem with their individual goal setting).

Having your reps review the weaknesses they exhibit, adds Del Curto, is great for conversation. Del Curto always asks her reps if they agree with their saboteurs, or whether there are other things they struggle with. 

This can, at times, be difficult for reps to discuss. So, Del Curto suggests asking specific questions (for instance, where does this show up at work? What are some things we can do to help you? Are there ways that your team is functioning that is bringing up that saboteur?) and always bringing some or her reps’ strengths into the meeting to break the ice.

“I make sure to bring 3 or 4 strengths that I see in them into the meeting,” says Del Curto.

“It helps kick off the meeting really well.”

For more on Del Curto’s goal-setting techniques – including tips on how to put these tips into action, as well as some routine pitfalls to avoid – check out his full interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.