7 Steps to Setting Smart Sales Targets and Goals for Your Business

6 minute read

Goals. It’s a simple word but it carries many different associations for different people. Some goals are realistic, some are ambitious, some are fictitious, and some are somewhere in between. Setting sales goals can resonate more with one of these aspects, or sit right in the middle. Isn’t it nice to have a goal that might be a little too ambitious, but you’re able to hit it? That is arguably one of the best feelings to get.

For businesses, setting goals is essential when it comes to reaching for, achieving, and measuring success. As the phrase goes, “What gets measured, gets managed”. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t set benchmarks for success.

If your sales reps only have a single goal to reach for their quota, your business is missing out on many growth opportunities. That’s because they will only need to obtain the already obtainable. There is no struggle, determination, or fight to achieve more. In this guide, we’re covering 7 steps to setting smarter sales goals so you can scale your business to new heights.

1. Keep it S.M.A.R.T.

When it comes to goal setting, there is a handy acronym that can help businesses and individuals set realistic yet ambitious milestones. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. 

These relate to the most important characteristics of each goal you set in your business. Adhering to these characteristics will help you set quantifiable and well as qualitative goals, and set you up for success. And, if you don’t reach the goal, you can easily see where you went wrong.

Be Specific

SMART goals use specific wording so sales reps know exactly what they are striving toward. A goal like “Increase sales” isn’t a SMART goal because it is far too broad. Instead, a goal like “Increase sales by 50%” is specific when it comes to what reps are working toward and what you’d like to see in terms of growth.

Avoid being vague when defining your goals. You should make it uber clear what milestone you want reps to hit, what that quantifiable or qualitative goal looks like, and, even, how success will be measured. 

Set Measurable Goals

SMART goals should also be measurable. This means you should be able to track and quantify progress and success. Again, “Increase sales” is not measurable, but “Increase sales by 50% MoM (month over month)” is.

If you want to measure your sales team’s progress, you’ll need to quantify your goals. This could mean driving an X-percentage increase in sales, a Y-amount increase in leads, etc. 

Later on, we will talk about how to set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to set tangible, measurable goals and track the success of your sales team using the metrics that matter most to your business.

Make Sure They’re Attainable

It certainly makes sense to set ambitious sales targets, but you also want your goals to be attainable so your reps don’t get discouraged when they come up short. You should be fairly confident that a rep can achieve the goal if they have a decent work ethic and the right skills for the job.

Make sure your sales goals are rooted in reality. Reps’ close rates have lingered around 30% the past two months, consider setting a goal of 35% the next month, rather than a lofty 45%.

You should always aim to improve, but aiming for attainable goals can leave your team feeling burnt out and discouraged and can make it harder to track your team’s progress. Discuss your goals with your team to confirm that your goals are ambitious yet realistic.

Set Goals That are Relevant to Your Business

Set goals that are relevant to your company and fit into your overall, long-term goals for your business. For example, growing your website traffic may sound like a worthy goal, but will doing so actually drive business revenue? Or should you instead focus on improving conversion rates on your email campaigns or sales calls?

You should set SMART goals that not only benefit your department but your entire company. They should fit into the overall “picture” of your business and move the needle in terms of business growth.

One common mistake businesses make is pivoting to grow in another direction while losing sight of the overall trajectory of the business. If you are opening up new traffic channels or launching new campaigns, make sure they fit with the core of your business.

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Set Goals That are Time-Bound to Certain Deadlines

Sometimes goals end up being “moving goalposts” in that if there is no set deadline, the goal keeps getting put off until it inevitably falls off your radar. By setting time-bound goals, you get more specific about deadlines and timeframes from achieving those goals.

Having no timeframe will cause your efforts to get reprioritized, making it hard for your team to stay on track. Instead of saying “We want to increase business revenue by 40%,” say, “We will launch an email marketing campaign to increase business revenue by 40% by Q2.”

7 Steps to Setting Smart Sales Targets and Goals for Your Business

2. Define What “Realistic” Means for Your Business

We touched on setting attainable goals, but what’s considered attainable or “realistic” will differ from business to business. That’s why you should touch base with your sales team to determine what goals are feasible based on their existing skills and workload.

As a business owner, it’s easy to get overly ambitious with your goals, especially if you aren’t “in the trenches”. One of the worst things you can do is set unrealistic goals if your reps are already tapped out. You want to empower them to strive for more without pushing them toward burnout.

Can your existing team hit the goals you have set for the designated time frame? Or does it make sense to hire on another rep or aim for a less ambitious goal? Discuss these questions with your team so you’re able to move toward your goals, sustainably.

3. Determine Important KPIs

Setting specific goals means establishing the key performance indicators you want to target to measure success. “Business growth” or “more traffic” is too vague; you need to get uber-clear on what you are hoping to achieve

Some of the most important KPIs for B2B businesses include:

  • Organic website traffic
  • Organic click-through rate
  • Landing page conversion rate
  • Contact form conversion rate
  • Email sign-ups
  • Leads
  • Lead quality
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Customer lifetime value
  • MQL to SQL conversion rate
  • Sales pipeline velocity
  • Sales close rate
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Monthly recurring revenue

Determine which KPIs are most important to your business and set SMART goals for each. Consider whether you need to set a quantifiable (% increase, amount increase, etc.) or qualitative (lead quality, customer satisfaction, etc.) goal and how you will measure success for each of these metrics.

4. Brief Your Sales Team

The success of your business depends on your sales team staying on a cadence with your sales targets. To do that, they need to be in the know when it comes to what the goals are, how success will be measured, and how much time they have to read these goals.

Often, your reps will provide valuable insight into what sales goals should be set, as well as what tools they will need to reach success. Keeps your eyes, ears, and mind open. Dig into their processes to see what’s working and what isn’t. 

7 Steps to Setting Smart Sales Targets and Goals for Your Business

5. Incentivize Your Sales Reps

Goals can often seem abstract to reps when the results aren’t personally felt by your sales team. While you obviously want them to work for the greater good of the company, adding incentives can certainly help inspire success.

It’s important to note that there’s no “perfect commission structure”for your business. How you compensate sales performance will depend on the needs of your reps and how you envision your company growing over time. Don’t be afraid to try things out and pivot as needed.

It’s best to tie incentives to specific milestones, either at the individual or team level. Determine what “progress” looks like and how you plan on rewarding reps for moving your company forward. 

6. Set Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual Sales Goals

Again, we touched on setting time-bound goals, but it’s worth discussing the psychology of setting incremental goals. Large, looming, and far-off goals can seem intimidating, especially if your reps can’t experience those “quick wins” along the way.

That’s why it’s best to establish monthly, quarterly, and annual goals so reps can show incremental progress and not get discouraged on their path to reaching your larger business goals. It also gives you a chance to see what is or isn’t working within a shorter timeframe so you can make changes, faster.

Staying on track with your larger sales goals means keeping an eye on how your progress changes from month to month. To see whether your efforts are truly moving the needle, you need to know your ideal monthly sales goals. Then, these quick wins will encourage your reps to keep moving forward to success.

7. Monitor Success

Don’t expect to set perfect goals during your first go-around. Your goals will shift and evolve over time. What’s important is being able to monitor your progress and revise your goals as needed.

You can use a slew of analytics and goal tracking tools to monitor success and keep your team on task. For example, Visitor Queue helps B2B businesses track the number of website leads they generate each month, all within a single platform.
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What Happens When You Fail?

There is nothing wrong with failing. If you ask the best entrepreneurs, they will tell you that they learned more through failure than through achieving. The good thing about using the S.M.A.R.T. method to track your goals is that you can use that information to see where you may have missed the mark. The most important takeaway here is to keep trying until you succeed. If you continuously miss the mark, maybe it’s time you make smaller goals so they are actually attainable.

If you are looking for some inspiration, check out the Down, But Not Out podcast. In this podcast, Nick Hollinger talks to other entrepreneurs about how they have learned from failure and made themselves and their businesses stronger than ever.

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Written by

Nick Hollinger | CEO

I am the CEO and Co-founder of Visitor Queue. Currently working with ~5000 companies across the globe including Microsoft and Jones Lang Lasalle. In my spare time, I am also the Game Day Director for one of Canada's most successful Junior Hockey Teams (the London Knights). Previously, I held Head of Marketing/Sales roles at SMB B2B organizations. A strong believer that hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. I enjoy sharing my knowledge, experience, and opinion on Marketing, Sales, SaaS, and Entrepreneurship.

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