Tips to set smarter sales goals for your team

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It’s good to have goals, and it’s something that every company, and in turn, every employee, should embrace. But approached in the wrong way, a goal and the associated monitoring process can become a real issue within a business. Imagine five goals per employee, each with three associated KPIs, expanded across three regional sales teams of 15 people each.

If you need to be constantly reporting on that, when is anyone supposed to get any actual work done?

The trick is looking at goals in a way that works to your advantage, rather than being a burden on your team’s time and energy. Here’s how to set smarter sales goals for your team:

Set smarter sales goals

With all the project management, CRM and pipeline management tools on the market, there are very few excuses not to know exactly how well your team is performing at any moment of the day. That is assuming you have set them targets.

According to a survey of sales activities, the most commonly tracked metrics are:

Calls (26%)
Wins (23%)
Opportunities Created (19%)
Emails Sent (8%)
Meetings (8%)

These are all perfectly valid, and important, but there are some other less clinical ways of setting your team both hard and soft targets that they’re likely to be more in tune with. People will always naturally be asking “why?” so the more context you can include with your tracking metrics, the more responsive your team is likely to be.

A few examples include of trackable KPIs include:

Cost per acquisition – your top salesperson may be winning new clients every week, but they may also be spending a fortune wining and dining them

Client engagement – directly related to retention and attrition rates, you should be tracking how often your team makes contact when they’re not in pure sales mode.

Whatever metrics you choose to track, they should be monitored and reviewed at the frequency that’s appropriate for each KPI. There’s no point obsessing over daily meeting levels when they tend to even out over the course of a month.

As with any system, KPIs aren’t flawless. While they’re great for measuring the success or an existing process, they falter a little when it comes to trying something new where the measures are less set in stone. Some businesses are moving to OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) either as an accompanying measure of performance, or a direct replacement for KPIs.

An OKR is designed to demonstrate progress towards an ultimate goal, ticking off milestones along the way. If you’re looking to implement a long-term vision rather than purely hit short-term sales targets, this may be an appropriate goal measurement to use for some of your team.

Identify training gaps

The one thing your KPI and other goal-setting mechanisms will tell you is where people are underperforming.

Companies all over the world struggle to fulfil their commitment to spending an annual training budget. That’s because they’ll either wait for employees to identify their own training needs, or wait for indications of a training requirement from goals not being met.

However, that turns training into an activity to fix faults rather than one that’s intended to aid career progression. When you set smarter sales goals, or KPIs are agreed, there should be a clear plan around how training can go about helping your team achieve that. Again, it’s better if done in context so aim to make any training activity highly relevant to day-to-day scenarios rather than a box-ticking exercise.

One of your KPIs may even become a need to attend a certain number of training sessions per quarter to keep skills topped up.

Fire and hire fast

It’s not always easy deciding what to do when KPIs aren’t being met, but if there’s a consistent signal that performance is under par then there’s only one option. Compassion is a great quality to have as a manager, but not if it’s to the detriment of your team’s overall output.

It fluctuates massively by industry and department. This means you’re not the only company losing people, and you’re not the only ones looking to bring people in either. Every manager and executive should have written in large letters on the wall the mantra “Never stop recruiting”.

This philosophy means you’ll have a ready-made line of new recruits available if and when the time comes. Goals should form a pivotal role in your recruitment process and you should be able to assess each candidate on their likelihood to hit the KPIs that the previous one failed to do.

Reward your team for great performance

A healthy salary is nice, and commission is even better, but that’s not enough to keep a team effectively motivated.

Note the emphasis on the ‘great’ here — ‘good’ performance is something that’s generally expected. There’s a danger of devaluing any scheme if you’re giving out recognition to those who are turning up for work every day and doing what’s been asked of them.

Tying this back to why you should set smarter sales goals and KPIs, setting stretch targets is a tactic often deployed by managers who want their team to reach for the stars, with appropriate rewards when they’re hit. This is a healthy practice, so long as they don’t seep into becoming real targets — you can’t pull employees up on not achieving something that’s not part of their core set of goals.

It’s important that your rewards activity isn’t always linked directly to performance too. 47% of employees want to receive rewards spontaneously, while 65% would prefer a non-cash incentive.

A mixture of individual and team rewards is essential, as you need to keep people focused on what they’re doing, but also help the pack grow together and motivate each other to achieve greatness.

The way to justify this in your strategic plan is the argument that better staff retention means increases in productivity. While that’s a difficult metric to measure, it’s been suggested that even a small 5% improvement in retention can lead to an increase of 25-85% in profitability.

Get some help with BMS Performance

We’ve worked with many sales teams who have successfully implemented goal frameworks in sales, client retention and recruitment. Get in touch to see if we have some valuable expertise that could help your business grow.


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