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Setting SMART goals: A step-by-step guide to achieving successful sales goals

No matter how small your business may be, knowing how to set sales goals is essential to your success.

When there are quantifiable milestones to hit, setting realistic and achievable sales targets keeps everyone’s priorities in line. It also gives your sales reps the structure they need to develop effective selling strategies.

Of course, revenue growth is always a key area of focus when it comes to setting sales goals. But successful sales management should also include goals that are less tied to money. 

Here are some examples:

  • Provide better customer service.
  • Close deals faster. 
  • Explain your products more clearly to customers.
  • Better educate your salespeople.

A lot of these goals revolve around improving communication. For example, personalized phone calls or emails are a great way to stand out to potential customers.

Sales managers who realize the value in these types of goals help their businesses become industry leaders. Revenue generation is something that only happens at the end of the sales cycle, so why take an approach with only that in mind?

Businesses that implement well-rounded sales goals are more likely to convert prospects into paying customers. These objectives help you achieve the hard numbers you’re aiming for.

If you’ve never carried out structured sales goal setting for your business, the prospect may seem intimidating.

However, like most business goals, setting sales goals is really just the process of breaking down your time and resources into smaller increments. After breaking down sales goals into smaller, measurable milestones, it’s about seeing how to manipulate those increments to benefit your bottom line.

In this article, you’ll learn: 

  • How to set sales goals.
  • How to determine an appropriate target. 
  • Some sales goal examples.
  • Tips on the best ways to hit your sales goals.

The secret to setting sales goals

Establish your target revenue

Successful companies work backwards when it comes to sales goal setting for the month, quarter, or year.

Questions to ask yourself when analyzing past sales data to identify trends and opportunities include:

  • How much did you make during previous high-revenue periods?
  • What were the factors that led you to those numbers?
  • Who were your highest-performing reps?
  • What strategies were driving their success?

Next, take that data, apply it to your current situation, and ask yourself:

  • Do you have at least as much (if not more) sales resources now compared to then?
  • Do you want your reps to generate revenue from existing clients or new leads?
  • How much time do your reps typically need to close a deal in either of those scenarios? 

When it comes to knowing how to set sales goals, it’s all about asking the right questions.

You also have to keep upcoming company changes in mind, such as a new product launch or a contract coming to a close. 

When you have a clear picture of the different factors at play, sales goal setting is easier.

Set a target length of time to close a deal

If your reps take five days to close a sale, you may want to shave that number down to four days to ensure they’re on track to hit their revenue target. It’s important that you’re confident you can attain your target.

To get an accurate breakdown of where everyone’s time is going, take a look at the steps that go into closing a deal. This helps you identify areas where people can speed things along.

For example, look at the average time it takes for a sales rep to contact a new lead. You can even track the length of time between a quote being sent and a contract being signed.

Sales management software, like a CRM, allows your reps to log their activities. The more detail you can learn about your current sales process, the more likely it is that you can set reasonable improvement expectations.

Define your target closing rate

When you identify your target revenue and length of time to close a sale, it becomes easier to determine your target closing rate.

For instance, say you want your sales reps to decrease their closing timeline from five to four days. In this scenario, you could reasonably expect to increase your closing rate by 20%.

However, this percentage might not be accurate. Remember, when deciding how to set sale goals, you’re not only accounting for past performance, but also the current demand for your product or service. 

Your reps could exceed expectations and still come up short if no one’s currently interested in your product!

Assessing current market conditions and competition is crucial. You can realistically increase your target close rate if the market potential is solid.
But if you’re heading into a season when demand is typically low, you may want to temper your expectations for your sales goal setting.

Use the stretch framework for setting sales goals

Stretch goals are an excellent way to sharpen your sales goal setting. However, they should be used with caution.

When presented correctly, stretch goals light a fire in the bellies of your most dedicated sales reps. 

Assigning sales targets to individual salespeople or teams can lead to creating synergy in the process. Ideally, the reps would band together and use a combination of friendly competition, creativity, and stellar support to hit even the most ambitious targets.

But when stretch goals are used incorrectly, they place employees under too much pressure to function effectively. When morale and motivation are waning, achieving even regular sales goals becomes difficult.

How to set sales goals with motivation

When setting new goals for your sales team, make sure they’re comfortable with the process. First, you’ll need to empower your reps is to break down their goals into manageable chunks.

If they now need to close 20 sales per month, start by asking them to make five sales a week their quota.

The idea is to ease into the new process and not overwhelm them with expectations. Although it’s the same amount of work, giving your reps a smaller figure to target is easier for them to parse.

Let your sales reps ask questions and voice concerns before you set goals, so they know their opinions matter. 

Finally, offer additional incentives, such as increased commission, or a pay bonus to reps who meet and surpass their targets. Celebrating and rewarding successes when sales goals are achieved is crucial to setting sales goals successfully.

Track your progress

Lead management software helps sales teams monitor their progress and develop smarter strategies. 

Look for a program that lets you track key metrics at every step of the sales process, from the first sign of interest to the final sale.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of selling, but the right tools can show you how resources are being used on a larger scale. This shows you where to make adjustments for greater selling potential.

Sales management software can also help your team track of leads and customers as business gets busier, so you never miss out on an opportunity.

Reevaluate and adjust

One of the smartest things you can do when it comes to setting sale goals is to be flexible with them. Make sure you’re consistently monitoring progress towards sales goals and adjusting strategies as needed.

Circumstances change, which causes even the best-laid plans to veer off-course. Whether it’s a single event (such as lack of payment or a lost client) or part of a larger trend (like general market disinterest), you need to be ready to adjust your numbers on a regular basis. 

It’s impossible to reach every single goal you make. But when you stay adaptable and create new goals, you ensure longevity within your industry.

As business waxes and wanes, it becomes easier to adjust your goals to fit your current situation. By developing strategies to increase sales and meet established goals you let your sales department know that you’re not moving the goalposts around on them. Instead, you’re simply anchoring their expectations based on real-world factors.
Overall, identifying areas for growth and setting corresponding sales goals is a key part.

Recap: Setting sales goals

A business that sets sales goals has a better chance of making profits.

Sales goals are always ambitious to a certain extent, but there are ways to have a more realistic sales target. Working with the right data gives you a solid foundation for setting and achieving manageable sales objectives.

Objectives are naturally ambitious. As with planning anything, you can’t expect to be an expert the first time you set sales objectives. So, when you first establish sales goals and pursue them, don’t be surprised if you’re a little off your sales targets.

When you set goals, you give your business something to work towards. Whether you achieve it or not, each sales objective is another indicator of how to grow your company.

Like all business processes, this will take some trial, error, and iteration over time. 

But as your business grows and your team becomes more experienced, you’ll likely keep growing goals and your accomplishments.

How to set sales goals FAQs

How do you typically set sales goals?

Businesses set sales goals in different ways. Many managers use the SMART model, a guide created out of research into goal-setting.

There are plenty of articles that delve deep into the SMART model, but here’s its basic outline:

  • Specific – Have you clearly defined your goal and everyone’s role in achieving it?
  • Measurable – Can you track the success of your goal?
  • Attainable – Do you have the ability to accomplish your goal?
  • Realistic – Is your goal possible?
  • Time-bound – Have you worked on establishing a timeline for achieving sales goals?

Organizations that use the SMART model often see a difference in productivity levels. Consider how it benefits your business goals.

Who makes the final decision on purchasing?

Generally, purchasing managers make the final decision on purchasing. Unless it’s an unusually large expense. Then it’s the job of a higher up position like the CEO.

Any purchasing decision needs careful consideration. So it takes someone with specialized skills to make the final call.

What are some factors to consider when setting sales goals?

There are several factors to consider when you set sales goals or targets for your products or services :

  • Stay adaptable.
  • Define things clearly.
  • Manage expectations.
  • Keep a record of your information.

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