What’s one thing virtually every business does — no matter their industry, target customer, or product or service?
They set goals.
These goals may be company-wide or department-specific. Regardless, without them, it’d be difficult for employees to understand their purpose and why they’re doing the work that’s expected of them.
Goals ensure employees are driven, on-task, and producing work that impacts the business’s bottom line. They also ensure your business is constantly striving to grow, improve, and most importantly: boost revenue.
All goals are important to your business’s success, but one department for which goal setting is absolutely critical is Sales.
In this guide, we’ll discuss why goals are important in sales and cover the various types of sales goals. We'll also cover how you can implement sales goals on your team and offer tips and tricks to help you create goals that make sense for your team.
What are sales goals?
Sales goals are set objectives for a team to work towards. They keep reps motivated by providing incremental and encouraging targets to focus on — typically on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
Achieving Sales Goals
As mentioned, sales goals are critical to the success of your business — by setting sales goals, you'll have a much clearer path to achieve your targets. That's because sales goals ensure each member of your team is motivated and focused on hitting those specific targets.
They also allow sales reps to see the direct impact they’re having on the business, which fosters a sense of drive and momentum among reps.
Here are a couple more ways that setting sales goals will help you achieve your targets:
Create benchmarks for your team.
They help you create attainable benchmarks for what qualifies as success on your team. For instance, if all of your reps are able to achieve their goals well in advance of a deadline you set, you’ll have a benchmark for what should be easily achievable again in the future.
Evaluate individual and team-wide success.
Sales goals also allow you to evaluate the success of your sales team as a whole, and the individual reps who make up the team.
By looking at who is and isn’t hitting their goals on a consistent basis, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you need to make any necessary adjustments. This might mean adapting your goals in some way such as making your goals more or less aggressive, setting new types of goals (which we'll discuss in the next section), or implementing your goals in a different way.
Speaking of the different types of sales goals, let’s take a look at the various types you might choose to establish on your team.
Types of Sales Goals
- Monthly goals
- Activity goals
- Waterfall goals
- Sequence goals
- Win rate goals
- Incentivized goals
- Unit goals
- Mentor goals
- Stretch goals
You can pick and choose which of the following sales targets are best suited for your specific company, industry, and team. We included an example of each type of goal to give you a better understanding of who and what they’re ideal for.
1. Monthly Sales Goals
Monthly goals are great these types of for specific job function progress check-ins because daily and weekly check-ins would be too frequent to judge the success of a rep; quarterly and annual check-ins would be too infrequent (it’d be too late for a rep to make improvements and turn around an outcome).
Monthly Sales Goal Example
Set a monthly sales goal to boost your revenue. If your business’s goal is to increase sales by $20,000 over the next 12 months, then reps will need to focus on the goal of closing more deals and bringing in about $1,675 more total per month.
2. Activity Sales Goals
Activity goals refer to the various aspects of each reps’ day-to-day job functions and duties. You can set activity goals for any period of time you choose such as weekly or monthly to ensure specific activities are being completed on schedule.
These goals are ideal for improving specific types of activities or job functions, such as boosting the number of face-to-face interactions a rep has with prospects every week.
Activity Sales Goal Example
Set a goal for the total number of phone calls reps should have with prospects so they know how many to schedule.
3. Waterfall Sales Goals
Waterfall goals are organized in a top-down format. This means they include details about the goals and expectations for each individual on the team from the top (the highest ranking members of the team) down (to the least experienced members of the team).
They’re also called waterfall goals because they account for ramp-up time and a learning curve for newer members of the team. This helps you boost team morale and ensure your reps are confident in their abilities so they produce high-quality work at all levels.
Waterfall Goal Example
Set a waterfall goal for the number of emails your newest reps send every week. If they’re currently sending 60 emails per week, have them ramp up to 110 emails per week. Every week, boost your expectation of a total number of emails sent by 10 — meaning, in five weeks, reps should hit the goal of 110 emails.
4. Sequence Sales Goals
Sequence goals prioritize all of your sales team’s goals from most to least important. This allows reps to focus on one goal at a time and hone in on that specific target prior to working on the next.
Even if each of your reps can’t hit every goal that’s been set, they’re able to focus on the goals of the highest value for your company first (or the goals that impact your bottom line the most).
Sequence Goal Example
Create sequence goals for business development representatives (BDRs) who just started at your company. If prospecting is your biggest priority, set prospecting goals for the BDRs first so they can work on increasing their outreach efforts by 10% each week, prior to focusing on any other goals you have for them.
5. Win Rate Sales Goals
Win rate is the percentage of deals closed in a given time period. Because win rate is just one percentage by which you can evaluate success, it’s a simple way to compare reps’ against each other and create a sense of friendly competition on the team.
Win Rate Goal Example
Set a win rate goal for your sales team to close a specific percentage, maybe 30%, of the deals they initiate and work on with prospects.
6. Incentivized Sales Goals
Incentivized goals result in reps receiving a reward of some kind once they reach a set target. Incentives are typically determined by higher-level sales reps, managers, or executives and may include tangible or intangible rewards. They’re great for motivating reps and bringing a competitive edge to the team.
Incentivized Goal Example
Set incentivized goals to motivate your reps to exceed their monthly quotas by 10%. Offer them a raise, more time off, a bonus, or company-wide recognition if they achieve this goal.
7. Unit Sales Goals
A “unit” is the product being sold — the product might be tangible (like a baseball hat) or intangible (like a CRM). You can set daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly goals for your reps to sell a specific number of units.
Unit goals are great if you want to focus exclusively on increasing the number of individual products your reps sell throughout a given amount of time.
Unit Goal Example
If you work for a car dealership, set a unit goal for each of your reps to sell one car per day.
8. Mentor Sales Goals
Mentor goals are made between a rep and a mentor (or a more experienced team member). If a rep is struggling in some area of their work, these goals allow them to work directly with a mentor to develop a process by which they can improve their skills.
Mentor Goal Example
If a rep is struggling to understand how to incorporate a process like sequencing in their sales calls, partner them with a mentor on the team. Together, they can develop a framework of goals to help the rep improve step-by-step.
9. Stretch Sales Goals
Stretch goals are a “stretch” to achieve. Any type of goal we reviewed above can be turned into a stretch goal — just base it off of the non-stretch goal you set first. Stretch goals are ideal if you want to kick motivation up a notch and focus on the future of what your sales team can likely achieve.
Stretch Goal Example
Remember the initial example of a monthly goal we set above (to increase sales by $20,000 over the next 12 months)? Use this target to determine your stretch goal — meaning your stretch goal might be to increase sales by $30,000 over the course of the next 12 months.
Now that you know about the various types of sales goals, let’s review how to set sales targets. No matter what type of company you work for, you can use these steps to set your sales goals.
How to Set Sales Goals
- Choose which type of goals you’ll set.
- Make your goals SMART.
- Share and implement your sales goals.
- Monitor your goal progression.
- Continually evaluate and adapt your goals over time.
1. Choose which type of goals you’ll set.
The first step in the process of setting sales goals for your team is to determine which goals you want to focus on. As we reviewed in the previous section, there are nine major types of sales goals to choose from.
When deciding which goal(s) you want to focus on, ask yourself the following questions. These will help you tailor sales goals to your specific company, needs, and team.
- What product or service is being sold?
- What are my resources? (e.g. number of reps working and any other tools my reps have access to)
- Who is our target audience and who are our buyer personas?
- How realistic are these goals (on an individual and team-wide basis)?
- What are the business's overall goals and how can we align our team's goals with them?
2. Make your goals SMART.
Next, make sure the goals you set are SMART — meaning they’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This way, your goals — no matter what they’re focused on — will be concrete and tailored to your business.
For example, let’s look at the activity goal example from above, and think about it in the SMART format.
Goal: Increase the daily number of phone calls reps have with prospects.
Specific: You want to increase the daily number of phone calls reps have with prospects. To do this, present ways to help reps time manage and ensure they have the necessary tools to increase their number of calls while feeling supported.
Measurable: Increase the daily number of phone calls reps have with prospects by two.
Attainable: Last month, reps increased the number daily of phone calls they were having with prospects by one.
Relevant: By increasing the number of daily phone calls reps have with prospects, you'll improve the chance of closing more deals and boosting revenue
Time-bound: By the end of the month.
SMART Goal: By the end of the month, you'll see a boost in the number of deals closed (and, hopefully, revenue), by increasing the number of daily calls reps have with prospects by two.
3. Share and implement your sales goals.
Once you’ve defined your goals and have made them SMART, it’s time to share these targets with your team.
Your reps need to understand the goals they’re supposed to be working towards, why they’re trying to reach these targets, and the time frame in which they’re expected to do so — otherwise, why would they feel any motivation to achieve the goals at all?
Here are some ways to share your sales goals with your team:
- Sales enablement kit
- Knowledge base
- Web page (with details about the product’s features, etc.)
- Meeting (with other teams who can help reps reach their goals, such as product, marketing, or support)
Once you have your goals laid out, it’s time to implement them. Again, make sure your reps know the time in which they’re expected to achieve these goals, whether that’s daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.
4. Monitor your goal progression.
While your team works towards the various targets you’ve set, be sure to monitor sales goal progression.
For example, if you’ve established daily goals, you might choose to check in with reps at the end of the workday to ensure they’ve met expectations.
If the goals your reps are working towards are to be achieved over a longer period of time (monthly, quarterly, etc.), monitor progression throughout that time frame to make sure reps are on track.
Monitoring goal progression also allows you to intervene if needed. For example, if you notice an individual rep or group of reps won’t be able to meet a specific goal, you can intervene and make necessary adjustments (whether that means adjusting the goal or providing a rep with more training or a mentor).
5. Continually evaluate and adapt your goals over time.
Evaluate the success of your specific sales goals. You can do this for the individual reps who worked to reach the targets, as well as the sales team as a whole.
Evaluating the success of the goals means you need to look at how the goals worked for your reps and whether or not they were realistic, helpful, and motivational. From there, you can decide whether or not you need to adjust any goals moving forward.
This is also when you can share your findings, wins, or areas for improvement with your team. Host regular meetings to discuss these details to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself (and your reps) to help you evaluate the success of the sales goals:
- Did you achieve all of your goals? If not, why?
- Did reps feel as though the goals were too easy or too aggressive?
- Were the goals realistic for the amount of time in which they were expected to be achieved? Why or why not?
- Did the results of the goals positively impact the business?
You now know the different types of sales goals and how to actually set these goals for your team.
Let’s review a few tips to ensure you’re setting and managing your sales goals in the most effective way possible for your team members.
Sales Goals Tips
Think about the following, universal sales goal tips while developing and implementing your targets to ensure they are realistic, motivational, and beneficial for your team.
1. Incorporate data.
Data speaks volumes. If and when possible, incorporate real data in your sales goals and use data to inspire new ones. Data provides a strong basis for each goal you set, no matter the type. This will ensure your goals are accurate and achievable.
2. Don’t be afraid of small goals.
Don't be afraid to set small goals for the near future in addition to your major quarterly and yearly goals. Smaller goals might include daily and weekly targets to keep your team on-task and ensure they’re focused on improving their skills for the future. These steps will help reps achieve your larger goals over time and also give them daily or weekly direction.
3. Educate and empower your sales team.
Your sales reps cannot be expected to reach their goals without being educated and empowered to do so. Whether your reps are completely new to sales or have had years of experience, provide them with the information they need to succeed.
This includes making sure they know the products they’re selling inside and out and have access to assistance from the product, marketing, and support teams if needed. Ensure reps have the necessary tools to achieve their goals and manage their relationships with prospects, such as Sales Hub.
4. Reward your reps when they hit their targets.
When your reps achieve their goals, reward them. This will keep the team competitive, focused, and excited about their roles. The rewards you offer may resemble those of your incentivized goals (i.e. a raise, paid time off, or company-wide recognition).
Set Sales Goals to Grow Better
Sales goals keep your reps motivated, focused, and driven. There are a number of types of sales goals you can customize and establish to ensure your team is constantly improving and impacting your business’s bottom line.
Sales goals help your business boost conversions and revenue. They also build strong, professional, and lasting relationships among your reps and prospects. So, determine which types of sales goals are ideal for your company and customize them so your reps can begin working towards achieving those targets.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.