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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Closing the Gap: Aligning Sales Expectations and Reality for Appointment Success

Closing the Gap

I think we can all agree that securing appointments is foundational to achieving sales goals.

However, findings from the recent Media Sales Report found a persistent gap between the expectations and reality of salespeople and their managers when it comes to the actual number of scheduled appointments.

Strategies For Aligning Expectations and Setting Realistic Goals

According to the most recent report, 42% of managers believe their salespeople should be scheduling 8 or more appointments every week, and while that is their expectation, reality looks quite different.

52% of salespeople report scheduling 1-3 face-to-face or virtual appointments weekly, and 40% of managers believe this is accurate. However, over a third of sales managers believe their salespeople attend 4-5 scheduled calls per week, but only 23% of salespeople claim to do so.

Bridging the divide between expectations and reality is key to the health of a sales team. When out of alignment, it can be a source of frustration, demotivation, or missed opportunities for growth. If this divide sounds familiar, here are a few strategies to align expectations and set realistic goals.

5 Steps to More High-Quality Appointments

1. Make Data-Driven Decisions 

Before you set goals, you want to study the numbers for each salesperson on the team. By analyzing historical activity, salespeople and managers can identify patterns, strengths, and areas for improvement, leading to more informed decision-making.

Study the number of appointments and the conversion rates from first-time meetings to closed deals for the team and each individual to gain insight into current appointment trends and where you need to be.

2. Establish Individual Expectations 

Resist the urge to oversimplify expectations and establish one number for every team member. A singular goal for all might not drive enough activity for each individual to achieve their growth goals. Instead of imposing arbitrary targets that try to cover the entire team, establish individual goals based on the data.

When determining expectations, consider factors such as individual performance and capacities. Salespeople should also analyze their own numbers to determine how many decision makers they need to meet with to exceed their goals. This approach fosters buy-in and accountability among salespeople.

3. Focus on Quality 

While quantity is important, prioritize the quality of scheduled appointments over sheer volume. Encourage salespeople to focus on meaningful interactions, understanding client needs, and value-driven conversations that nurture relationships and drive long-term success.

Quality appointments are more likely to result in meaningful engagements and business wins.

4. Communication the Expectation 

Open and transparent communication is key to aligning expectations. It’s hard to achieve a goal when you are unsure of what successful attainment looks like.

So, once you've established the expectation, make sure everyone knows what it is—that means consistent communication.

5. Tracking Performance

Simply put, performance improves when expectations are clear, and there is transparent reporting that shows how each person is performing.

Setting the target and sharing it is not enough. It is the ongoing reminder of what that goal is and how you are performing to it, which helps to keep the focus on the goal.


As you review these strategies, remember your task is to set and align realistic expectations – those that foster a healthy team environment and motivate salespeople to achieve their goals.

Lastly, continually study your data and make adjustments when needed to ensure that you are maximizing growth. The effort needed will change over time based on performance.


Topics: setting expectations