Goal Setting

How to set sales goals that drive revenue and team engagement

10 min read

Learn about the importance of setting sales goals, tips for writing effective goals, and how to best set them for every person on your team.

Sales goals are essential for setting your team up for success. But goal setting is a lot easier said than done, which is why it’s so important to have a solid process in place. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at:

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Why goals for sales teams are so important

Everyone struggles sometimes with goal setting, from SDRs to sales managers to VPs. Goals, however, are crucial to your success — especially in sales. When planned and executed properly, goals help you:

1. Keep the team aligned company-wide

When goals aren’t in sync, teams can easily be at odds and interfere with one another’s success. On the other hand, goals which are effectively communicated help ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward compatible objectives.

Keep in mind that goal-setting goes beyond just your sales team. To ensure maximum success, ensure they’re aligned with overall company goals. This will help reduce any friction with other teams as well.

2. Provide clarity, purpose, and increase performance

How are you supposed to be good at your job, when you don’t even know what success looks like? A clearly defined set of goals not only affords clarity, but it also leads to greater performance. 

Don’t just take our word for it. 

According to a Harvard Business Study, 83% of the population doesn’t have goals. The 14% who do have goals are 10 times more successful than those without. Bonus: The 3% with written goals are three times more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals. This basically means that writing down your goals significantly increases your likelihood of success.

3. Increases accountability and collaboration

According to a study from The Ohio State University, people demonstrate a greater commitment to their goals when shared with someone they believe have higher status than themselves, or whose opinion they value. Howard Klein, lead author of the study and professor at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, said: “You don’t want them to think less of you because you didn’t attain your goal.” 

In sales teams, goal sharing can not only increase accountability, but help promote collaboration — individuals who know their colleagues’ goals will be able to step up and support them and receive support in return.

How do you write a sales goal?

This fool-proof 4-step process will help you and your team effectively develop sales goals for the upcoming month, quarter, or year:

1. Get a grasp on your company-wide goals

Did you know less than half of the working population knows their company goals? If you’re leading a sales team, you can’t afford to be one of them. 

Before you begin developing goals for your sales team or individual reps, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of your company’s overall goals. These could be anything from reducing churn to increasing retention or average contract value (ACR) to scaling the number of users. But how do these relate to you and your sales team? 

A good place to start is your company’s annual revenue target. Working backward from here will enable you to calculate that “magic number” and uncover exactly how many sales, demos, SQLs, calls, and every sales activity you can think of that your team will need to hit in order for the company to succeed.

Ready to go? Not so fast…

2. Determine realistic sales goals — for your team, sub-teams, and individuals

While it’s crucial to know your company’s targets before setting any type of sales goal for your team, it’s not enough to stop there. In order for your goals to be effective, they need to actually be feasible — otherwise, your reps will routinely fall short. 

This leads to missed projections and a demotivated team. Besides, if your company lacks the resources to realistically support your team’s growth targets, it’s better to find that out at the start of the quarter than the end.

But how do you determine which goals realistically make sense for your team? How do you find that sweet spot between ambitious and attainable? 

Set goals for individuals and sub-teams

Start by combing through sales records from previous quarters, and taking a look at the performance history of both your team and individual reps. This will give you a better understanding of what your team has been able to achieve in the past, both collectively and on their own.

However, don’t stop there. It’s important to take a critical look at each sales rep and adjust their goals accordingly, rather than applying a uniform set of targets across the board.

You can do this by treating your sales reps as individuals. Consider their personal skills and challenges, levels of seniority and training, as well as their time at the company. These factors will help inform the right set of goals for every person.

For example, two SDRs might have the same output goal of meetings booked, or revenue generated, but you might want to upskill each in different areas.

Does one do a really good job of converting people on demos? If so, maybe the other rep should have a goal to hit those conversion rates instead.

Goals for sub-teams can come in handy as well to foster more team ownership. You can try pairing SDRs and AEs together by market, territory, or deal size, and set individual and sub-team goals so they can iterate within their realm a little faster.

3. Brainstorm with your sales team

The next step is to actually sit down and determine which goals you should tackle as a team for the next quarter. Involving your reps in the goal-setting process will open the floor to new insights and opinions. It also allows your team to adopt a more collaborative approach, while individuals will have a chance to contribute and feel more personally invested.

For a productive brainstorming session, try following this structure:

  1. Share company-wide goals
  2. Share sales-specific goals and how they ladder up to company goals
  3. Open up the floor to ideas for how the team can reach sales team goals
  4. Vote on the best (and most realistic) ideas
  5. Assign owners for each goal or milestone (depending on their seniority)

When your team feels part of the process, they’ll have a deeper sense of ownership and drive to actually hit those goals.

Pro tip: Using an idea management tool can help you organize your brainstorming session and ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate. With Soapbox, team members can even upvote or downvote their favorite ideas, helping you narrow down the best and most exciting ideas.

sales meeting brainstorm goals
(Soapbox meeting agendas)

4. Establish goals for your sales team

You’ve taken a look at your company’s goals, set goals for your sales team, and determined which are realistic both for your team and individual reps. You’ve offered individual contributors the opportunity to share their feedback and ideas. 

Now it’s time to finalize which goals your team is going to tackle this quarter. This is often easier said than done, and if you’re not careful, you could wind up like this:

Fear not — we’ve got you covered. 

While this particular stage of the goal setting process may feel overwhelming, there are numerous methods to help you. Two of our favorites are SMART goals and OKRs.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is a simple framework that enables you to effectively charter your goals. The acronym stands for:

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable
  • A: Attainable
  • R: Relevant
  • T: Time-bound

The SMART system is so effective because it forces you to flesh out the details of your individual goals and ensure that they’re both relevant and possible to achieve within a particular time frame. It also frames your goals in a clear, concise way that you’re able to actually measure (and ultimately determine your success). 

SMART sales goals examples

Here are just a few examples of what SMART sales goals could look like:

  • Close 25 medium-sized deals by the end of Q4
  • Accept $250k in qualified pipeline this quarter
  • Update 3 existing playbooks this quarter
  • Book 150 qualified demos by the end of this quarter
  • Increase win-rate to 10% this month
  • Promote 2 AEs this quarter to become Sales Managers or Sales Leads

What are sales OKRs?

OKRs stands for “Objectives and Key Results.” This goal-setting framework consists of objectives, with each one defining a goal to be achieved. The objectives are then connected to 3-5 milestones, which measure progress towards said objectives. 

The OKR methodology originated at Intel and is used by tech giants like Google and Zynga. Soapbox offers handy OKR goal templates.

Account executive sales goal example

Pro tip: Soapbox lets you keep track of all your sales goals in one place.

Pro tips for writing sales goals

1. Assign ownership

Designate one person to take ownership for every team goal or milestone. This doesn’t exclude others from working towards the same goal, but it does ensure that there’s someone in charge, who can oversee the execution as well as report on its progress throughout the quarter. With each person responsible for their own team goal, this also increases accountability and personal investment.

2. Get to the point

To avoid confusion, keep your goals simple and direct. Don’t leave any room for interpretation.

3. Don’t forget about other teams

It’s important to keep other teams in mind throughout your goal setting process, especially if they’re going to be supporting or involved in your work at some point. Consulting with relevant departments, like marketing, will help ensure everyone’s on the same page and goals are aligned.

(Sales and Marketing team meeting template)

4. Track your sales goals every week — and tweak them as necessary

Sales goals aren’t meant to be static or set in stone. Rather, they should be viewed as dynamic and adjustable. Keep track of your goals throughout the quarter, rather than waiting until the end to determine whether or not you’ve been successful. 

Pro tip: Hosting a weekly sales team meeting will provide the opportunity to check in with your reps, discuss how their goals are progressing and address any roadblocks as they come up. Talk about metrics every time you meet and use the traffic light system to determine how the team is doing.

Don’t forget about professional development goals for your sales reps

Professional development may not be directly tied in with sales targets, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, studies have shown that growth and development conversations are directly tied in with an individual’s level of engagement and attachment to their workplace. Goal setting with your sales reps is the perfect opportunity to initiate this discussion and increase motivation for the upcoming quarter.

Sales goals for 2020… and beyond

Goal setting doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. By ensuring your team and company goals are aligned, doing your research, and following simple frameworks like SMART goals or OKRs, you can effectively plan your goals for the upcoming quarter. Involving your sales reps or individual contributors in the process — through brainstorming sessions and professional growth discussions — will help increase motivation, collaboration, and set everyone up for success. 

Use Soapbox to set and track your team-wide and rep-specific goals