In the pursuit of progress and improvement, there might not be anything quite as essential as sales goals. They’re what drive us to become better people and get better at what we do. Goal setting is an important part of helping any business perform at a high level. It can help increase revenue and motivate your sales team to be the best they can be. There’s no doubt it should form a central part of any sales training process.
So what is the best way to set sales goals? While it’s important to make goal-setting a priority, that’s only half the battle. Like anything else, goal setting can be done well and it can be done poorly.
To make sure your sales team is benefiting as much as possible from having sales goals, it’s important to understand what makes quality goals and how to implement them.
Let’s get into the four ways to set better sales goals.
1. Get S.M.A.R.T. about Sales Goals
Chances are, you’ve come across the S.M.A.R.T. concept at one point or another. The internet and business magazines alike have been abuzz with the term for decades. Its first iteration appeared in an article by George T. Doran in the 1981 issue of Management Review.
The acronym has been used in all sorts of industries and contexts since its first appearance and in several different forms. Many different versions of the acronym have been used since the original was published, but there’s a reason it’s stuck around. In terms of setting your sales team up for long-term success, there are no better criteria for setting great sales goals.
Make goals clear and easy to understand. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity here, be explicit.
For example: Instead of making it a goal to make more sales, make it a goal to generate a specific number of leads each week.
It’s important that you are able to know whether or not goals are being met. Introduce a deadline to monitor progress and motivate. Have a concrete number to aim for.
For example: Increase sales by 20% by the end of the year. This is better than simply “make as many sales as you can this year.”
While challenging goals are great for pushing your sales reps to improve, be realistic.
Just as the act of achieving a goal can be a powerful motivator, the feeling that a goal is impossible to achieve can detract from motivation.
Does your team have the necessary resources to meet the goal?
Is it a goal that has been proven to be attainable?
Your goals should make sense for your sales reps, the sales team, and the company as a whole.
Do goals for sales reps align with the goals of the business and vice versa?
Aligning everyone’s best interests is a great way to motivate a team or even the entire organization.
Set a timeline! Deadlines do amazing things for keeping people on track to meet goals. A deadline has the added benefit of making a goal more measurable.
2. Attainable, but Challenging
In addition to being realistically achievable, goals need to be challenging. In a study performed by the American Psychological Institute, it was shown that challenging goals led to higher performance than easy goals 90% of the time.
Is your sales team meeting the goals set for them time and time again with ease?
It may be wise to raise the bar. Without real challenge, the full potential of your sales reps will remain untapped.
Consider a Stretch
If your sales team is on an extended hot streak and can’t seem to lose, you might want to consider stretch goals. These are bigger goals that provide an extra dimension of challenge by being very ambitious. They can ask for results that your company hasn’t achieved before and often require pushing boundaries. This is a way to encourage innovation and a higher level of performance from your team.
Stretch goals aren’t always the answer, though. In fact, they should be treated with caution. They can be an amazing tool to inspire top-performers and reach incredible sales targets, but they can also have a detrimental effect if used incorrectly.
As mentioned before, it’s essential that sales managers set realistic goals for their sales reps. Setting unreasonably high goals in a last-ditch attempt to boost sales is inadvisable. Walking the line between attainable and challenging can be a balancing act, but it’s what will bring out the best in your sales team.
3. Work Backwards
Not sure if a challenging goal is still achievable?
Not sure if a goal is challenging enough?
Try outlining exactly how the goal will be met. Instead of focusing entirely on the outcome of a specific goal, be sure to think about a plan of action.
Starting with the desired outcome, use the data at your disposal to outline a plan.
What have your sales reps shown that they are capable of?
What exactly will they need to change in order to meet the goal?
Sharing this information is a great way for sales leaders to show sales reps what it looks like step-by-step to achieve the goal.
4. Bigger isn’t Always Better
Part of working backward from the desired outcome is identifying the steps that need to be taken along the way. These can then be turned into small goals themselves. They should still meet all of the S.M.A.R.T. criteria and be aimed at enabling bigger goals to be met.
Do you have a yearly sales goal you want your team to meet?
What does that look like quarterly? For each month?
Setting a monthly sales goal is more useful and digestible for everybody involved, and it can still be aimed at meeting a larger yearly sales goal.
An Essential Element of Success
The art of goal setting has been around for quite some time, and a lot of research has been done on the topic. It’s clear that when done well it is instrumental in helping to boost your team’s capabilities and improve your bottom line.
Along with having a great product or service and a defined sales process, the implementation of quality sales goals is one of the best things you can do for your company.
Need a consultation to discuss sales growth, goals, or processes?