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How to Set SMART Sales Goals

September 8, 2021 5 min read

How to Set SMART Sales Goals How to Set SMART Sales Goals

Sales goals are the backbone of any growth-driven organization. They play a crucial role in driving motivation across teams, gauging success, and building accountability. Yet, so many sales teams get stuck spinning their wheels, failing to reach the important benchmarks they’ve set. And the problem isn’t always what they’re doing. Sometimes it’s the sales goals themselves. 

If sales goals are vague, lofty, and overambitious, sales reps will end up wasting time trying to meet targets without purpose. By setting goals the SMART way, you’ll set quantifiable goals that guide reps to success. 

So how do you set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely? Start by understanding what a SMART goal is.  

What are SMART Sales Goals?

The SMART framework is a way sales leaders can qualify the goals of their team, so they remain focused on their end destination. When you set sales goals for you or your team, you need to give yourself practical, actionable steps and milestones that both the team and your company can achieve within a given period of time. And this is where the SMART methodology comes in. 

SMART sales goals are:

  • Specific: You need to be as clear and specific as possible. Don’t just talk about “increasing sales revenue” or “sending more emails” without attaching a tangible number and timeline to the goal. For example, your sales goal could be to increase conversion rates by 10 percent each month.  
  • Measurable: Set goals that allow you to track results, quantify progress, and gauge your success. An example could be to attain 25 percent more sales by the end of the second quarter.
  • Attainable: Your sales goals should be achievable and rooted in reality. You don’t want your sales reps to feel discouraged, frustrated, and burnt out because you’ve set the bar too high. For example, if, for the past three weeks your team’s close rates have been about 25 percent, on average, it would make sense to set a target of 30 percent the following week, rather than an overambitious 50 percent.
  • Relevant: Do your sales goals align with your company’s overall strategy and long-term objectives? If not, you need to rethink and set new goals that fit with the core of your company. Relevant goals are suited to the bigger picture. If your goal is to close X number of accounts by the end of year, you shouldn't set quarterly goals that don’t align with that objective.
  • Time-bound: Set goals that need to be achieved within specific timeframes and have clear deadlines. Lowering/increasing “XYZ” by “X” percent by “Y” week, month, or year is how you create your SMART sales goal. 

SMART goals position your sales team for success. Not only will your sales teams have more clarity on what they need to do but also find the structure and confidence they need to achieve reasonable goals.

Here’s an example of a SMART sales goal:

Let’s say, Company X, which offers video streaming services, has had 45 percent of their customers discontinue their subscriptions in the past three months and, even though they’ve been getting new subscriptions during the same period, they want to reduce their customer turnover rate.

In this case, their SMART goal would be:

“To reduce our customer attrition/churn rate from 45 percent to 20 percent in the next quarter by extended trials, discounted memberships, and increasing customer service personnel by 10%.” 

5 Steps to Get Started Setting Smart Sales Goals

Alright, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s discuss how to start setting your own goals the SMART way. 

1. Determine Important Sales KPIs

Without a clearly defined set of metrics, your sales team is likely to feel discouraged and disengaged—which can damage your bottom line. Define specific sales KPIs so you’re able to stay current on your team’s progress and performance and identify areas of improvement.

Think of your sales key performance indicators as your eyes and ears. Your KPIs ensure your sales team and your company achieve set targets. Some of the most important sales KPIs include:

  • Email and on-site sign-ups
  • Gross and net profit margins
  • Sales revenue
  • Customer retention
  • Cost per customer acquisition
  • Prospecting activity
  • Funnel flow
  • Customer churn rate
  • Year-to-date sales growth

Take the time to configure key sales KPIs to suit your sales team’s needs and your company’s primary objectives.

2. Define What “Attainable” Means for Your Company 

As mentioned, SMART sales need to be rooted in reality. It’s not uncommon for managers to get overly ambitious and too optimistic with their sales targets. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting more for your company, setting unrealistic goals will do more harm than good. 

Instead of being carried away by what the competition is doing, evaluate your company’s current situation— your resources, existing skills, target customers, and overall strategy— and then determine what goals are realistic and feasible. The last thing you want is to push your sales team towards burnout. Talk to your sales team to find out what’s attainable based on their current workload, skills, and the results they’ve been getting.

3. Utilize Automation Tools

Many sales teams struggle to manage their prospecting process and generate leads. The good news is that there are sales automation tools that can free up time and allow sales reps to focus on more important tasks, such as closing deals and maintaining customer relationships after a sale.

For example, Prospect.io allows you to automate your company’s data entry work and measure how your sales campaigns are performing in relation to lead generation and conversions. This means your team gets to spend less time performing data entry tasks.

Additionally, HubSpot offers a number of automation tools that companies can use to empower their sales teams to connect with more leads, automate workflows, and convert leads faster. Autopilot is another tool that allows you to automate repetitive sales tasks, making it easier to assign leads and schedule meetings with customers. Finally, platforms like Mailshake and NinjaOutreach help you put cold email outreach on autopilot and gain an in-depth understanding of what percentage of your cold email outreach is successful.

3. Create a Strategic Plan

Once you’ve come up with a set of SMART goals, use them to create a strategic plan. A strategic plan is a document that outlines a business' process of defining its strategy. It details how you’ll use your resources, streamline operations, and organize priorities. The primary purpose of a strategic plan is to communicate goals company-wide. Use a strategic plan template to help guide you as you build your own plan based on the SMART goals you’ve identified. 

4. Use Project Management Software

There’s no doubt you’ve taken time to not only think about what you want to achieve but also establish processes that help accomplish your goals. At any given time, you’re juggling multiple tasks at once and it can be challenging to document activities, maintain collaboration across teams, and keep everyone accountable.

Project management software helps you keep everything organized and on track when it comes to time, costs, and completion. It also provides you with tools to scope out key deliverables for everyone in your sales team, balance resource management, and collaborate efficiently with your team. These platforms also make it easier to narrow your focus and monitor progress, improving your sales team’s rate of success. 

It’s important for you to try different platforms and see which is best suited for your company and goals. For example, as a B2B manufacturing company, you might prefer a platform that allows you to see a timeline/calendar view of everyone’s goals. This way, you’ll have a high-level overview of all tasks in progress and how each task depends on one another.

5. Identify Areas of Outsourcing

As a business, you want to focus on your core business processes so you don’t strain your internal resources and demand so much from your sales team. Start by identifying functions that are difficult to manage and mundane time-consuming tasks that you can outsource to other businesses. 

Tools like TimeCamp help you analyze where you’re spending most of your time. From here, you can see how much time your sales team is spending on list building, outreach, and other administrative tasks. Outsourcing time-consuming processes can help reduce operating costs, improve the quality of service, and boost productivity in your sales team. You can find great personal assistants that specialize in specific administrative tasks on freelance platforms like Upwork

Start Setting Sales Goals the SMART Way

Goals are a fundamental part of any sales strategy. Goals that are set strategically are more likely to be achieved. The success of your goals doesn’t just impact your revenue; it also impacts your relationship with upper management, stakeholders, and potential investors. At the end of the day, what you achieve shapes the business. Your accomplishments help build out your business plan, mold your financial projections, and most importantly - achieve powerful growth.

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This post was originally published September 8, 2021