I was watching sports this weekend, supposedly taking a break from sales incentives, and one of the announcers shared the title quote: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” The quote really resonated with me, so I decided to do some quick research on it Monday morning.

It was first attributed to French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in the early 1900s. He is most famous for the book The Little Prince. During my quick research, I found a number of other goal-related quotes by famous or semifamous authors. I thought it would be fun to share a few of them and how we can relate them to the sales compensation work we do. Let’s start with the title quote:

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”: We need to arm our salespeople with the right tools and knowledge to achieve success in the compensation plan and reward them for it. 

“It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”—Arnold Toynbee:  With sales compensation, this quote can come to life in two ways:

  1. Should we consider providing stretch goals?
  2. How do we incent the field force to go above and beyond the goal through accelerators or kickers?

“The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.”—Denis Waitley: This quote instantly made me think about management by objectives (MBOs). Oftentimes, I hear from sales leaders that an MBO is not needed because that activity is part of the rep’s base salary and they should already be doing that. As Denis’ quote states, the winners are already doing that. But the bulk of the team likely needs help with the steps along the way. Temporary MBOs that focus on the action steps leading to the goal can help to provide that guidance while they learn the best practices.

Perhaps one of these quotes can be the opening slide to your next compensation design meeting, and maybe even provide a little self-motivation along the way! Please share any quotes you feel exemplify sales compensation as well.

Topics: incentives, sales compensation, Mike Martin, goals, The Little Prince, Quotes, Inspiration, Wish