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The power of personalized goals

Written by: William Johnson, Division VP, Sales and Channel
(View Author Bio)

Personalized goals are a simple concept with extraordinary impact. Learn how to use goal setting to celebrate and acknowledge achievement, and how to focus your efforts to spur new growth in your business.


A prominent psychologist on the theory of goal setting, Edwin Locke, shares: “Every person’s life depends on the process of choosing goals to pursue; if you remain passive, you are not going to thrive as a human being.”


Goals give us purpose and a path forward. They also affect the intensity of our actions and emotions, according to Locke and Gary Latham’s research. In business, having goals increases employee motivation and organizational commitment. One way to get the most out of the goals your team is working towards is to personalize them. When someone feels personally connected to a goal they are working towards, they place higher value on it and are therefore more likely to achieve it.

One personalized goal-setting and incentive structure we use often with our clients is called GoalQuest®. It relies on segmentation to make sure goals uniquely align with those working to achieve them. Without segmentation, one goal has to fit everyone, which leaves top performers without adequate motivation and lower-level performers feeling frustrated. GoalQuest eliminates both of those problems by basing goals on the participating audience’s past performance. That means everyone’s motivated — the top, the bottom, and most importantly, the middle segment of your sales team.

Beyond segmentation, GoalQuest also uses self-selected goals and inspiring rewards to maximize commitment and the drive to succeed. Having the opportunity to choose their own goal — and reward if they reach it — creates a “set your own destiny” atmosphere for those participating.

While GoalQuest is often used to drive traditional sales metrics like product sales, add-on sales, new account creation, learning completion and more, it can also be used to impact other productivity behaviors where a historical baseline of performance may not exist. Here are a few creative ways to use GoalQuest:

Driving non-sales results

One client used GoalQuest to improve the number of deliveries made by a team of drivers. It was the first such program this particular company had attempted for its drivers. Each driver had an assigned number of stops they were expected to make and were given the option to select a goal of improving by 5%, 10% or 15% over the expected amount.

Drivers were also given the option not to select a goal but for those who did, the results were impressive:

  • 68% of participating drivers selected the biggest stretch goal, which was 15% over their assigned workload.

  • 77% of that group achieved their goal.

  • Drivers who participated in the program completed 31% more deliveries than assigned. 

Moving the middle

Motivation is rarely an issue for the top performers in any business construct. They are, by their very nature, predisposed to strive to achieve their goals and targets. However, the incentive to stay focused and motivated can often be somewhat problematic for the much larger group of “middle” performers.

One example of GoalQuest’s ability to “move the middle” involved a collection of global technical sales agents from 10 different countries. The program was run during the first main stretch of COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020 when sales were at somewhat of a standstill. Instead of focusing on revenue, the program measured Identifying Qualified Opportunities, essentially filling their funnel. Participants were offered very big stretch goals between 30% and 300% of their baseline.

  • Even with huge goals set, 60% selected the highest goal to work towards.

  • 94% of those who selected the highest goal went on to achieve it.

  • Overall, the participating agents nearly tripled their year-over-year performance and the middle three groups had 5x results!

Personalized goals are a simple concept with extraordinary impact. Leveraging individual goal choice promotes accountability and drives stronger personal commitment to succeed. The aspirational structure not only celebrates and acknowledges achievement, but also encourages and incentivizes future performance. As you look for ways to spur new growth in your business, consider the power of personalized goals.

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William Johnson

William Johnson

Division Vice President
Sales and Channel

As Vice President of BI WORLDWIDE’s Sales & Channel Engagement Group, William Johnson's primary focus is to develop sales and channel engagement strategies and solutions that change the behaviors of sales people, distributors, dealers and channel sales representatives. An expert in sales incentive strategy, he educates sales professionals around the world on how to best engage their sales force through sales engagement strategies, solutions and best practices.