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How to set effective sales goals with your team

Are your company's sales goals looking a bit like a pie in the sky weight loss plan? You have a number in mind; you know you need to eat healthily and exercise more, but you don't really have a diet plan, and you're not sure what type of exercise is going to work best for your fitness level? 

To fulfil your weight loss ambitions, you need a personalised plan that's going to address your body's unique requirements and factor in your current challenges. You may want to see a dramatic difference when you jump on the scale in a few months' time, but without mapping out the steps to get there, you may be setting yourself up for failure and a slump in morale. 

Your sales goals work in much the same way. It's okay to set some truly aspirational targets for your sales team, but you have to ensure that they have the right tools, incentives and support to reach them. When your goals are backed by strategy and a true understanding of what makes your salespeople tick, anything is possible. To shape up your sales performance, here's what you need to know about effective goal setting.

Set realistic sales goals

The pie in the sky thing is a real problem. Maximising your revenue is always desirable, but you can't put an enormous figure on the target board and expect your sales team to achieve it yesterday. Your sales goals have to align with a number of things:

The nature of your product or service

High ticket items, for example, often have a long and complex sales process that limits the number of sales an individual can achieve within a specific timeframe. 

Your budget

Marketing and promotion will heavily influence your conversion rates. If you don't have a lot of budget to put behind your campaigns, it may be unrealistic to expect a large number of sales based on organic sales and marketing efforts alone.

Your current share of the market

Depending on how your business is positioned against competitors and what share of the market you currently hold, it may not be feasible to see drastic results within a small amount of time. There may be deeper issues in your overall strategy that need to be addressed before you can push for more sales. 

When you take all of these factors into account, it's easier to set a target that your salespeople can achieve. If all they can see for miles ahead are hurdles and challenges with very little effort from the business to support them, they'll quickly feel discouraged. Alternatively, if success is only measured by how well they can reach these impractical goals, they may be tempted to sell by whatever means possible, which will ultimately tarnish your brand.

Set S.M.A.R.T. sales goals

In inbound sales and marketing, we often talk about S.M.A.R.T. goals; this means your goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

To avoid that pie in the sky scenario, you should ask yourself whether a goal is S.M.A.R.T. whenever you set it. This will help you and your sales team ensure that reaching that target is entirely manageable. 

S.M.A.R.T. applies to any type of goal you set, be it quarterly or annual, individual or collective. The expectation has to be laid out on a granular level so that you can track performance and have a better understanding of why you end up with a specific outcome. 

Most importantly, these goals should always be decided upon with input from your sales team. You can't just stand on a podium and list the things you want your people to do for that quarter. They have to actively participate in the discussion when these goals are decided upon because their hands-on experience will help you to determine whether these goals are truly attainable. Taking onboard your sales team's suggestions will make them feel valued and listened to. In turn, this will inspire them to feel more enthusiastic about helping you to realise these goals.

Have great communication with your sales team

Great leadership plays a huge role in your sales team's success. The way in which you communicate your goals and the conversations around how they should be achieved can make a huge difference to how your sales strategy plays out. 

However, goals should not only be formulated verbally. Create a document that clearly outlines the SLAs (Service Level Agreements) between your sales team and the different business divisions that impact them directly, and vice versa – this particularly applies to the relationship between sales and marketing. When goals are documented, it makes it easier to review the data from sales reports and understand where the current performance levels are leading the business. This, in turn, enables you to course-correct and identify any shortfalls in the sales strategy early on. 

Your sales team should be encouraged to have open and honest conversations with other stakeholders so that timely action can be taken to improve things where necessary. Sometimes, you may even realise that the goals you've set need adjusting in order to respond to current market trends or challenges affecting the business –– and that's okay! Remaining agile and responsive to your environment is much more effective than having tunnel vision and thinking that if you plough ahead towards a specific goal, you'll eventually get there. 

Dynamic and continuous communication between everyone responsible for making those sales and conversions happen is the best way to ensure that your company's overall mission is fulfilled in a way that's truly representative of your brand's values.

The hard figures

In our Digital Sales KPI Guide, we provide more information on the figures affecting your sales goals and what to look out for when planning your sales process. As with diet and exercise, there is no magic pill that can transform you overnight, but there's a lot you can do to start getting positive results and keep the momentum going. Check out the guide right now and get started.