If you want your company to grow and stay competitive, you need effective sales goals and a motivated sales team. The best sales goals motivate reps to perform in the moment and improve over time. Gartner research shows that when goals are aligned to both business and employee needs, they improve individuals’ performance by up to 22%.
However, poorly planned goals have the opposite effect. They can disengage reps, slow your sales process and hurt your bottom line.
Finding the perfect balance between ambition and realistic expectations takes practice.
In this article, you’ll learn what separates good goals from bad and how to set smart sales goals to optimize team performance. We’ll also provide some sales goal examples to get you started.
Sales goals are outcomes a sales team or organization aims to achieve within a set time frame. For example, you could set a goal to increase your conversion rate by 10% over the next 12 months.
While a sales goal’s impact is typically broad, its results should be measurable:
✅ Increase the conversion rate by 10% over the next 12 months
❌ Increase the conversion rate
Targets keep your team focused while allowing you to assess overall performance. If the conversion rate rises by 7% instead of 10%, you’ll know you’re on the right track. You can then adjust your approach for better results. Without that benchmark, you wouldn’t know how successful you were or when to move on.
Sales managers should set goals for individual salespeople and groups as part of their responsibility to optimize team performance. They should then use performance data to guide follow-up actions (e.g. adjust the strategy, reallocate resources or set the next round of goals).
As well as taking ownership of rep and team targets, the sales leader is likely to have their own goals set by a sales director. The two levels should be aligned to ensure the team’s work contributes to the sales leader’s goals, which contribute to the wider business objectives.
Sales goals and sales objectives are different, but both are key to optimizing performance. Understanding the difference will help you form a cohesive growth strategy and explain it clearly.
Sales objectives are the specific, measurable actions teams and employees take to achieve broader, long-term sales goals.
For example, if your goal is to increase your conversion rate, your objectives could be:
Register 20 sales reps for a sales negotiation training course in February
Upsell on 15 deals over the next quarter
Survey 200 existing customers on their buying experiences before March 31st
Alone, these objectives’ impacts are helpful but minimal. Together they’ll help you hit your sales goal of converting more leads.
Your goal-setting process will differ from those of other teams and businesses. For example, you might hold just one planning meeting while another group needs five.
That said, the most effective goals all have robust structures, are fueled by data and can be broken down into smaller actions when necessary.
Here are some best practices to help you set effective goals:
Experiment with goal-setting frameworks (starting with SMART)
Goal-setting frameworks help you clarify your sales targets and set the right plan for reaching them. They’re tried, tested and reusable roadmaps for the goal-setting process.
One of the most popular goal-setting frameworks (with good reason) is SMART.
Specific. Define the goal and how you plan to achieve it
Measurable. Make sure you can measure goal progress and achievement
Achievable (or Attainable). Ensure it’s not too challenging or stressful to reach
Realistic. Confirm it aligns with your organization-wide business goals
Time-based (or Time-bound). Set up realistic time frames for reaching your goal
These criteria eliminate guesswork and generalities. Other frameworks should help you in similar ways as many emphasize achievability, time constraints and measurability. For example, the PACT framework stands for Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous and Trackable.
Use past sales performance to see where your team lacks motivation or direction. Then you can address shortcomings directly. You’ll need a handle on some basic sales metrics to do this.
For example, if your conversion rate is high but your customer lifetime value (CLV) is low, your reps might be selling too many small-ticket products or targeting customers who aren’t likely to make repeat purchases.
If your company wants to grow sales revenue, you could use these metrics to set a measurable sales goal. For instance, that you’ll reduce the customer churn rate of three big-ticket products by 10% within 12 months.
You can then determine the sales objectives that will help you achieve the goal:
Challenging each rep to conduct 10 after-sales service calls per month
Building three email templates for post-purchase outreach
Refining lead qualification criteria to ensure reps target high-value buyers
Results-oriented goals can intimidate reps who struggle to see past their immediate to-do lists. Empower your team to take charge of their actions with practical daily activities.
For example, rather than telling a rep they need to close 50 deals this year, set lead generation activity goals to make 10 cold calls and send five follow-up emails per week.
Achievable mini-goals can boost morale, motivation and confidence by giving team members more control.
All sales reps have different strengths and skill sets. Keep this in mind when working with team members to set attainable goals. Unrealistic targets will just dampen motivation and slow productivity.
Revenue targets aren’t the only information your salespeople need to help them understand and support your sales goal. Communicate with your team members about the resources and skills that will help them sell better.
Speak to them about their personal and professional goals and set targets for improvement. It could be as simple as enhancing product demonstrations or building confidence with executive conversations. It could also mean coaching them in skills that will help them achieve their objectives.
Ensure your team understands your product, the sales plan, the average sales cycle and the sales strategy. Include team members in discussions when considering objectives, as they’re on the front lines talking to prospects daily. Their feedback will help you set better goals and using it should inspire a culture of collaboration.
Your reps want to know you value them enough to invest in them. Encouraging your team to develop and taking their opinions on board will result in a stronger performance.
Tracking progress toward individual and collective goals will allow you to hold reps accountable and offer help when necessary.
Say you expect one team member to cross-sell on six deals before the end of the quarter. You find they’ve only completed two with three weeks left. If you’re not monitoring performance, you won’t learn of the failure until after the deadline passes. If you are keeping track, you can discuss their challenges, suggest solutions and motivate them early so they’re more likely to succeed.
With that in mind, here are three tips to help you measure ongoing performance:
To get a clear picture of sales performance, you must know which data to track.
Instead of figuring that out as you go, take time to identify the most relevant metrics during the goal-setting process. These are your key performance indicators (KPIs).
The sales metrics that matter most to you could mean little to another business and vice versa. However, some metrics naturally fit well with certain types of sales goals. For example:
Social media interactions
Sales demos held
Number of deals in the pipeline
Performance and revenue goals
Average deal size
Number of cross-sells
Number of upsells
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Customer relationship goals
Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT)
Net promoter scores (NPS)
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
Customer retention rate (CRR)
Choosing KPIs early allows you to plan for collecting and sharing information. As a result, you can focus on performance rather than data management going forward.
A customer relationship management (CRM) tool with reporting capabilities provides an easy way to visualize and track sales goals data, often through a sales dashboard.
With access to a real-time view of your team’s activities, you’ll understand:
How well team members perform against individual sales goals
How effective team goals are from a business perspective (i.e. the collective impact of your reps’ work).
Choose a CRM with automation and customization capabilities to make reporting faster.
Pipedrive generates reports based on your custom fields and presents data in charts, graphs and interactive tables. You can quickly see the metrics that matter most in the format you find easiest to digest.
While all sales professionals should have their own goals, each one must know they’re part of a team.
Be sure individuals understand how the objectives they’re working toward support the broader sales goals. Then share the metrics that allow them to follow team progress as they work toward their targets.
The team at Mind Tools draws on Daniel Pink’s book Drive to explain how this kind of alignment aids performance:
Use a CRM to gather performance data in one place. This ensures team members can see the impact of their efforts.
Not all users will need a sales leader’s level of detail on each individual’s work. Use custom fields to create a report that paints a clear picture of group performance. Reports like this are helpful for giving sales directors and business owners quick updates too.
If you’re almost ready to set goals but aren’t sure where to start, the following examples should help. Each shows a broad sales goal and the types of specific, practical objectives a team could set to help them achieve that goal.
This monthly sales goal is an easy one to track and, with the right figure, can suit any large or small business. It’s a prime example of a broad, high-level target that you should break into smaller goals.
For instance, the company calculates that each new customer for their top-priced products adds an average of £30,000 in revenue. They’ll need to onboard (or upsell) five customers per month to reach their goal.
Knowing that cold calling has a success rate of 2%, and each product demo they do has a 25% success rate, the company comes up with helpful objectives.
Complete 50 cold calls to contacts who fit the “high-spending” buyer persona each month (to land one client each month)
Work with marketing to create fresh sales enablement content around two high-value products
Conduct 4 product demos per week (to land four clients each month)
If your reps are prioritizing smaller deals to hit quotas, set a team-wide goal to increase average deal value. This should help restore balance by motivating them to pursue bigger deals.
Close 15 deals with a value above £20,000 over the next quarter
Upsell to 10% of all new customers
Cross-sell a specific product to 10 customers per month
Keeping customers on board and happy will reduce your customer acquisition costs (CACs) so reducing churn is a worthy goal. This one’s most relevant to software as a service (SaaS) and other subscription businesses.
Call 20 existing customers per month to gauge happiness and offer advice
Build and distribute a customer satisfaction survey with incentives for participation
Email reminders to all customers whose payment details are due to expire within three months
To keep closing deals you must stock your sales pipeline with high-quality leads. Set a goal focused on qualified leads to positively influence other metrics like deals closed, average deal value and churn rate.
Redefine lead qualification criteria with input from marketing and customer support teams
Spend one hour per day scoring marketing-qualified leads (MQLs)
Establish a process for sharing customer data with marketers to enhance ideal customer personas (ICPs)
The most important sales goals are focused on closing deals and driving revenue. However, it’s also important to have achievable goals based on your sales activities that contribute to your ultimate objective of making sales.
Here are 10 more sales goals to help you stay productive, keep your team motivated and grow your business:
Increase the number of cold calls you make in a week by 10%
Reduce the time the team spends in sales meetings by 20 minutes a day
Cut down sales demos from 1 hour to 45 minutes, so you can run more in a day
Contact 10 fresh leads a day by phone or email
Get an open rate of 50% with your follow-up emails
Spend 2 hours a week researching the latest sales trends
Remove the 10 coldest leads from your sales pipeline at the start of every week
Setting yourself and your reps achievable goals will boost morale and productivity. It’s then time to review the results so you can discover which actions have the biggest impact on company revenue.
It’s easy to forget the many milestones and sales activities that contribute to growth when you’re obsessing about revenue.
By setting smarter sales goals, you’ll ensure all reps and teams are working in ways that benefit the entire business.
You can use goals to give a new business direction, refocus an established company or help your team improve core selling skills. Whatever your motive, use data for inspiration, track performance and see every outcome as a learning opportunity.
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