Setting motivating sales goals for your team

Veronika Traublinger
February 4, 2021

Setting goals for your sales team can be tricky. Here are our top 6 tips for setting goals that motivate your team and boost your business.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” - Peter Drucker (1909 - 2005)


Even though this quote is already pretty old, it’s more accurate than ever. And especially at the beginning of a new year, we want to set goals and plan for the year ahead. 


But setting relevant and realistic goals sounds way easier than it is. Sales Managers have to be very careful when defining their sales team’s objectives - wrong goals can lead to sales reps running after the wrong numbers or low motivation.


Here are six steps for setting goals that motivate your team to exceed expectations and drive your business towards success.



Set meaningful goals.


What are meaningful sales goals? Glad you're asking! Setting the goal of doing 100 calls a day probably is not very meaningful because talking to gatekeepers or low-quality prospects won’t lead to any business. Same goes for sending a certain amount of emails per week as with automated email campaigns, this can be done pretty easily but the outcome is often manageable. 


Rather measure your target accounts’ progress - e.g., how many of your target accounts are moving forward and at what pace? Always make sure your goals are relevant for your overall business goal.



Make your goals SMART.


SMART is an acronym and stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound. When setting goals (no matter if in sales or marketing, in business or private life) always use these five factors as a checklist. 


Your goal is SMART when it:


  • Clearly describes the desired outcome.
  • Is quantifiable.
  • Is realistic to hit the goal.
  • Is in-sync with the overall company goals and its mission and vision. 
  • Has a clear starting and ending point. 


Always review your goals with the help of the SMART acronym before communicating them.


Set activity goals.


If your rep needs to close 5 deals this month, try to split this target into activity goals. Do so by asking “How” - How can they close 5 deals this month. 


With the help of the rep’s historical conversion rates, you can derive how many demo calls and other activities are necessary to reach this goal. If, for example, 20% of their demo calls lead to a closed deal, they need 25 demo calls to hit their goal of 5 closed deals. 


Back your goals with data.


Setting goals is no guesswork. Data is your friend here. Your business. Your data. Your numbers. Use the numbers available to you to set realistic, data-backed goals. 


If, for example, your sales team historically was able to close 50 deals per month and you want to increase your monthly goal to 150 deals without any significant changes in team size or sales & marketing budget, it might be a bit too much of a stretch. Rather start with a goal of 60 deals. This is also called the waterfall approach. This approach is better for morale, produces higher quality work, and prevents burnout.  


Of course, goals should be ambitious. But taking a look at historical data helps you to still keep them realistic. If your team has the feeling the goals are unachievable and unreasonable, they will lose motivation.



Split up bigger goals into smaller milestones.


It’s great to have ambitious yearly or even more future-oriented goals. But you need more than that. It’s hard to keep up the excitement for a goal that’s too far in the future. You need small wins to keep up motivation and morale. So it’s essential to define smaller milestones in the form of monthly or even weekly goals.  


As a general rule of thumb, you can just set monthly sales goals by dividing your yearly objective. Or, if you want to start small, even just your annual break-even. 


Divide that figure by twelve, and you have a perfect monthly sales goal. 



Incentivize goals.


Sales reps like the competition. Try to create a culture of friendly competition where it’s everyone's interest to bring in as many sales as possible.


So what’s the incentive for hitting goals or being the best closer? Incentives could be everything from cash bonuses, lunch coupons, extra vacation days, or even just company-wide recognition.


Think about what would motivate your reps and make sure the incentives are transparent for everyone - this is the recipe for a motivated sales team that not only respects each other but who constantly strive to outperform one another.



Here you go. Keep in mind those six tips when setting new goals to motivate your sales team and help them to succeed. 


But don’t forget: goals mean nothing if you don’t track them. Make sure you have the right tools and a process to track your progress and someone responsible for managing them. Discuss the progress regularly with your team to adjust goals if necessary and, when things are not going well, find ways to improve.