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Sales Coaching
11
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How to set achievable sales goals and avoid common mistakes

Published on
Mar 28, 2024

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Sarah, a seasoned sales manager, started a new job at an insurance company. She was tasked with optimizing the sales process to result in quicker deal closures and higher revenue. The company's balance sheet looked discouraging, and the sales team seemed demotivated and lacking clear direction. 

If you’re a sales manager facing similar challenges, well-defined sales goals can be just the thing you are missing. Goals instill clarity about what needs to be done, create a sense of focus on the most important tasks, and boost accountability within the team- all contributing to a more successful sales operation. But where do you begin? Let us nudge you in the right direction.

Why is it important to set measurable sales goals?

Let us first understand why sales goals matter at all. Think of effective sales goals as the compass for your sales team. Without them, it is easy to get lost, drifting from one task to another without a real sense of direction. But with the right goals in place, great things start to happen:

1. Motivation and focus

Imagine your team are archers aiming at a target. Goals are that target. They provide a clear focal point, giving everyone something to strive towards. This boost in motivation and shared purpose can work wonders.

2. Performance tracking

How do you know whether your efforts are paying off if you do not keep score? Measurable sales goals let you track progress with sales productivity metrics in real-time. You can spot what is working, and areas that need a tweak, and, most importantly, celebrate those hard-earned wins.

3. Strategic alignment

Your sales team’s efforts must connect to the bigger picture- your company's overall mission. By setting sales goals aligning with those broader objectives, you ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction, making every win a victory for the entire company.

Sales team goals are powerful, but only if they are measurable. It is the difference between saying, "We want to sell more" and "We want to increase sales by 15% this quarter." One is vague; the other gives you a target to chase.

5 Common types of sales goals 

Not all sales goals are created equal. Understanding the different types of common sales goals will help you choose the ones that best fit your team's needs and overall business objectives. 

Let us break down the different sales goal types:

1. Revenue goals

These goals zero in on the bottom line by focusing on the total amount of money you want your sales team to generate within a given timeframe. 

Revenue sales goals also directly drive growth and help make important decisions about resource allocation, such as hiring more reps, investing in sales tools, or expanding into new markets. Examples of total sales revenue goals include:

  • Increasing total sales revenue by a specific percentage.
  • Boosting the average deal size.
  • Aiming for a higher profit margin on sales. 

2. Lead generation goals

Think of your sales funnel as a big bucket. To keep sales flowing, you must constantly fill that bucket to the brim- that is where lead generation sales goals come in. Moreover, these goals are all about bringing in those potential customers (leads) who show promise of turning into happy, paying clients.

Why focus on lead generation specifically? It is simple. Your sales reps have nothing to work with without a steady stream of potential customers. These sales goals emphasize qualified leads who fit your ideal customer profile and are most likely to convert. Simply put, it is all about the leads that become tomorrow's sales.

3. Activity-based goals

These individual sales goals shine a spotlight on the daily actions that are the building blocks of sales success. Instead of focusing on big-picture outcomes like revenue, they zero in on the nitty-gritty: the number of calls made, scheduled demos, and proposals sent out. 

If sales are lagging, activity-based goals help you identify where the breakdown is happening: maybe not enough calls are being made, or demos are not converting into proposals. You cannot always control if a lead instantly turns into a sale, but you can control your activity levels. These goals put that power in the hands of your sales reps.

4. Customer-centric goals

Happy customers mean a thriving business. That is where customer-centric sales goals come into play. These goals prioritize keeping your existing customers happy, loyal, and eager to spend more with your company. Customer-centric goals often involve metrics like:

  • Churn Rate: The percentage of customers who stop doing business with you. A goal might be to reduce this churn rate by a certain percentage. Customer retention is crucial for building a successful and profitable business.
  • CSAT Score: Customer satisfaction scores measure how happy customers are with your product or service. Aiming to improve this score is a great goal.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Tracks how likely customers are to recommend your company. This gives insights into customer loyalty.

After all, happy customers are more likely to return, leading to increased revenue without constantly chasing new leads. They become your best marketing tool, spreading positive word-of-mouth and attracting new business organically. 

5. Hybrid goals

Think of annual sales goals as ingredients in a recipe. You need to mix and match them for the perfect result. Hybrid goals combine different types of goals to create a super-focused plan. 

Maybe you want more sales and realize focusing on your current customers is the fastest way to get there. These goals let you tackle such specific problems. 

A good hybrid monthly sales goal can make a big difference. Increasing sales by focusing on your existing customers makes you more money and makes those customers happier. That is a win. Markets change, and your business will, too. But hybrid goals are easy to adjust, so they always help you reach your targets.

The SMART framework for sales success

Now we know why it is important to set goals, but the question remains: How do you set sales goals? 

One of the best methods to follow is SMART sales goals. You might have heard of this acronym, and for good reasons too. SMART goals are not just a buzzword but a proven recipe for sales success. 

This handy acronym helps you create goals that are focused, measurable, and more likely to be achieved. Let us break down what each letter stands for and why they are truly the most ideal sales goals:

  • Specific: Vague goals lead to vague results. Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable: Include numbers. How will you know if you have hit your target?
  • Achievable: Aim high, but keep your goals realistic. Setting the bar impossibly high leads to discouragement.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goals connect to your bigger sales or business objectives.
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline. This creates focus and helps you stay accountable.

The first step to knowing how to set sales goals is identifying where you are currently lacking. We have all been there, and we know it can be hard to pinpoint flaws in where you might be going awry. 

So, here are a few examples of bad sales goals examples and our two cents on how to make them SMART: 

SMART Goals Table
Bad Goals SMART Goals
"Sell more stuff." "Increase sales revenue by 15% in the next quarter compared to the same quarter last year."
"Get more leads." "Increase the number of qualified leads by 20% this month through a targeted social media campaign."

Did you know Oliv AI sales co-pilot can be a super helpful tool for setting and achieving SMART sales goals? It can automatically track the numbers that matter for your goals, saving you time on manual reporting.  Oliv proactively provides you and your team with constantly updated performance insights, allowing you to course-correct without the hassle of manual tracking.

Beyond setting goals: tracking and adjusting

Sales goal setting is a great start, but the real work begins once those goals are in motion. To stay on track, you need a plan for regular tracking, being flexible with changing situations, and using the right data for guidance. 

  • Regular reviews: Do not set sales goals and forget about them. Schedule check-ins (weekly, monthly) to see how you are progressing. This lets you catch problems early and celebrate successes.
  • Market changes: The world of sales is constantly shifting. Be ready to adjust your goals if market trends change.
  • Avoiding discouragement: Hitting roadblocks is normal. Focus on progress, not perfection. If progress is slow, analyze the data to see where tweaks can be made instead of giving up.

Knowing which numbers to watch is critical for making these smart adjustments. Here are some essential sales KPIs:

  • Sales revenue: The overall amount of money you are bringing in.
  • Lead Conversion Rate: It calculates how many leads turn into paying customers.
  • Average Deal Size: This helps track the value of your sales.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This metric determines your spending on acquiring each new customer.

Automatic KPI tracking and customized reports streamline your review process, giving you back precious time to focus on the big-picture strategies that drive success. After all, the aim is for your team to stay accountable and on track to achieving your most ambitious sales goals.

5 Common goal-setting mistakes to avoid

Even with the best intentions, it is easy to fall into common goal-setting traps that can sabotage your sales team's success. Let us look at some of the biggest challenges faced during setting goals and how best to avoid them:

1. Unrealistic expectations

Imagine one of your sales performance goals is to double sales in a month when, historically, growth has been slow and steady. Setting the bar impossibly high is a recipe for discouragement. 

While ambition is great, make sure your sales goals are grounded in reality, based on data, and achievable with a focused effort.

2. Insufficient communication

You cannot create realistic and achievable goals without getting buy-in from your team. This is where a strong sales team collaboration pays off. Involve your team in the process where possible, and explain the reasoning behind the goals and how they contribute to everyone's success. This fosters a sense of ownership and boosts motivation.

3. Static mentality

The sales landscape is constantly shifting. What worked last quarter might not work now. Clinging stubbornly to outdated goals is a mistake. Be prepared to adjust. Regular goal reviews with your team help you stay agile, tweaking targets or strategies as needed.

4. Lack of recognition and reward

Recognizing individual and team wins is crucial for keeping morale high. Do not just focus on the final sales goals; celebrate the milestones along the way- a well-timed bonus, public recognition, and even a simple thank-you note can go a long way.

5. Micromanagement

It is natural to want to keep a close eye on progress, but micromanaging your sales team will backfire. They need the freedom to determine the best way to reach those targets. Provide support and guidance, but trust your team to get the job done without feeling suffocated.

Setting sales goals is not a one-time thing. The most successful sales managers view it as an ongoing process, evolving with their team and the market to stay one step ahead.

How to set goals using Oliv as your sales co-pilot

Picture this: It is 3:55 pm, your rep has a crucial call at 4, and they are scrambling through LinkedIn, trying to remember details about this client. That frantic energy doesn't exactly scream "confident closer." 

Enter Oliv. It is like having a personal prep team for each sales rep, ensuring they go into every call armed with the info they need to build rapport and crush those goals. Here is how it works:

1. Pre-call research

Oliv scans client data, noting key points for discussion- may be a shared interest or a recent company milestone- those tidbits that spark genuine conversation and make the dreaded sales call feel less… sales-y.

2. Real-time guidance

48% of sales calls end without it even going towards closing. Imagine how helpful a real-time guide can be in such situations. Oliv can be your silent partner here, capturing every nugget of information shared and giving sales reps real-time guidance to keep the conversation targeted toward goals and objectives. No more missed follow-up points or forgetting those key details.

3. Post-call summarization

Once the call ends, Oliv delivers a summary- objectives, next steps, and more. After all, everything is crystal clear while fresh in your rep's mind. That is the momentum you can capitalize on.

4. CRM automation

We all know updating the CRM tools is vital, but let us be real: it is tedious and time-consuming. We understand that and therefore Oliv handles it for you and your team, so your reps reclaim valuable time to focus on what they do best- building those client relationships that drive sales.

5. Follow-up reminders

Back-to-back calls can start to blur. Did you know a staggering 44% of sales reps give up after a single follow-up call? That is a lot of potential business lost. Oliv's personalized sales follow-up drafts mean no client slips through the cracks. 

And for that second call? Oliv reminds reps of key points from the first meeting, creating seamless continuity that impresses clients and builds trust.

Think of Oliv as automating all those little things that eat away at time and focus. It is the key to smoother, smarter sales processes and gives your team the edge to consistently achieve their SMART sales goals.

Conclusion

Let us be honest; sometimes, setting sales goals can feel like a chore. But trust us, taking the time to set SMART goals is like giving your team a superpower. Here is a quick recap:

  • Clarity is king. No more wandering aimlessly- goals give everyone a target to chase.
  • Hitting goals brings a sense of accomplishment- and that is contagious.
  • Goals make it easy to see what is working, what needs tweaking, and when to pop the champagne.

Ready to transform your sales team into goal-crushing superstars? Try out a demo run with Oliv and see what it is like to have a goal-setting genius and a motivational coach rolled into one. It is time to streamline your process, track your progress, and leave your competition in the dust. 

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