Sales Goals: 7 Killer Examples + 8 Tips on How to Set Attainable Targets
Sales goals. Ah, sales goals. Without the direction provided by meaningful, measurable sales goals, your sales performance will stagnate, veer off course—or implode entirely.
As a founder or sales leader at your company, it’s your responsibility to set realistic sales goals that usher in long-term success.
Goals that help organizations grow exist at the intersection of realistic and challenging. They keep your team motivated, your momentum strong, and your leadership happy. Sounds good, right?
Let’s look at some actionable steps you can take to set sales goals—and then discuss some killer sales goal examples that will help your team grow, grow, grow.
8 Tips for Setting Attainable Sales Goals
How to set sales goals: the lowdown. First lesson: they must be attainable.
When 10 to 20 percent of salespeople miss sales goals, the problem might be the salespeople. But when most of the salespeople miss? The problem is with the sales goals, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Before you even start thinking about incentives, commissions, or bonuses, you need to take a hard look at your business plan and ask: Is my annual revenue goal realistic?
The answer depends on your pricing, industry, longevity, reputation, existing customer predictions, and pipeline efficiency (oh, and how many leads you bring in daily).
That’s a lot of moving pieces.
To make this task a little less daunting, we’ll discuss some tried-and-true tips to evaluate your goals, prepare your team—and ultimately, crush quota.
1. Determine Your Company’s Goals
Start with what you know.
Even if you’ve only been in business for one year, you have enough data and insight to predict how things should progress in the next 12 months.
Review the number of new customers who bought your product or service last year to find out the product-market fit. How much revenue did they bring in on average? How quickly is your customer base growing? What’s your best-case scenario? Worst?
Look backward to get a baseline of where you (realistically) want to go in the future.
2. Assess Market Potential
If you sell water to thirsty people, you can safely increase your sales goals. However, every market and industry has its nuances—and you’ll quickly discover whether there’s a need for what you’re selling.
But beyond immediate need, how much room is there to grow?
Setting early, aggressive sales goals in an untapped market can help you capture a large market chunk before competitors catch up. But … there are obvious risks.
Before setting sales goals, whether in a new or existing industry, do your due diligence and assess market potential.
You can do this by chatting with industry experts and thought leaders, subscribing to top (and niche) publications, and generally staying up-to-date with business and economic trends.
3. Evaluate Your Sales Team
What can you accomplish with the resources you have now?
If your sales goals can’t be hit with the team you have right now, it doesn’t matter how much work they put in. Scaling your team because you’re growing too quickly is a good problem to have. But it also takes time. And money.
Before you start setting quotas, make sure it’s something you can reach, or at least have an answer as to how you’re going to get there together. An amazing sales team is built on trust—and that starts with you.
4. Educate and Empower Your Sales Team
Sales can be hard, so you want your team to have the best resources available. This involves consistent coaching, powerful tools, and the diligence to review your sales process to check for weak points.
For the long-term success of your team (and company), you might have to look beyond immediate sales goals. Take time to dig into the process and think critically.
Here are a few areas to analyze, from sales strategist Jill Konrath:
- Connection ratio: What percentage of calls/contacts turn into initial conversations? The more calls you convert to conversations, the fewer calls you'll need to make.
- Initial meeting conversation: What percentage of your initial meetings end with scheduling a follow-up? The higher the number, the fewer prospects you'll need.
- Length of sales cycle: How long does it take to close a deal? The longer deals are in your pipeline, the less likely prospects are to do business with you.
Don’t just measure the volume of calls made or emails sent out. Go deeper and ask, "What percentage are currently converting?" Sometimes a small increase in one area can increase the efficiency of your whole process. You just need to show your team where they’re getting off track.
Most importantly, drill in the mindset that it’s OK to make mistakes.
There are always going to be a few hiccups as you optimize your own sales process, and your team can’t be afraid to make mistakes—or they’ll never grow.
5. Properly Incentivize Your Sales Team
In the ultra-accountable, totally transparent, and excessively experience-driven world of startups, being "sales-y" gets a bad rap.
Now, we’re not advocating returning to the days of sleazy, fast-talking salespeople undercutting prospects and colleagues alike. Instead, foster a culture of friendly competition—where it’s in everyone’s best interests to bring in as many sales as possible.
Pair that competition with compensation—so everyone knows what the prize is for coming out on top—and you’ll build a sales team that not only respects each other and enjoys working together, but who constantly strives to improve performance.
To begin, you may want to set (and reward) realistic stretch goals—targets beyond 100 percent for those who achieve excellence. But beware: Setting and missing stretch goals can have a profound impact on your team—leading to feelings of helplessness, killing motivation, and damaging performance.
Be smart and ask these two questions first:
- Are you coming off a win or getting out of a slump? A stretch goal might seem like a great way to inspire salespeople to turn the ship around, but audacious goals set in struggling times can come across as desperate and threatening, or even inspire the wrong types of innovation.
- Do you have the resources? Your sales team needs to be set up to win, or a stretch goal is just a slap in the face. Nobody can make something out of nothing—not even your amazing sales team.
If you’re not in the position to set stretch goals, define other goals (even small ones) and implement retention bonuses for exceeding those goals.
Now, the last thing you want is to create a culture of quick turnovers just because your sales team is chasing after new customers.
Instead, incentivize them to make sure they’re signing the right customers—the ones who will stick around because they actually need your solution.
Here are a few ideas of when to reward your team:
- When the customers they sign hit an anniversary: Base bonuses off of when clients hit a 6- or 12-month anniversary. This way, sales isn’t just about signing new customers—but emphasizing customer retention.
- When their customers upgrade to a higher plan: Providing enough value to turn a casual user into a die-hard fan is every entrepreneur’s dream. Why not compensate your sales team when they do just that?
- When past customers become repeat customers: Sometimes, the nature of your business means you won’t have customers signed on for long periods of time (like with a one-off product or service). Instead, reward your sales team when they bring that warm lead back and sell them a new product or service.
As much as you think your company culture and perks are enough, the truth is: Your salespeople need a reason to bust their asses and hit those sales goals. Making some component of their compensation scale with the number of new customers they sign or milestones they hit is a great way to boost performance.
6. Emphasize Activity Goals
No matter what you do, you can’t force a lead to convert. Likewise, you can’t control all the results on the way to reaching your sales goals. But you can control your actions.
Your team can still get amazing results by focusing on what they do—instead of just obsessing over results. These are called activity goals—where you focus on the repeatable actions you take that can land sales.
An example: A quarterback is playing in the Super Bowl. When they throw the football, their goal isn’t to win the game. Their goal is to complete the pass.
The trophy may be the motivation, but when they run onto the field, their focus is solely on making every right move. If they do that, they’ve done everything they can to ensure success.
If your team has this same mentality, they can hit their monthly sales goals, annual sales goals—and beyond.
Here’s how to do it:
- Identify your average (or target) close rate: Review past months and see how many calls/emails you made and what your sales results were. If you made 100 calls and had four sales per week, your close rate is 4 percent.
- Calculate how many daily calls/emails are required to hit your new target: So, if you want to hit six sales a week, your team will have to make 150 calls/emails.
- Ask if that number is doable for your team.
Now, instead of knowing you need to make six sales per week, you know you need to make 150 calls/emails (and you can use time-tested templates to streamline it.)
You get great results focusing on the things you can do, rather than the things out of your control. Plus, it can boost team morale, as the focus shifts from performance to process.
7. Implement SMART Sales Goals
The SMART acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
This methodology allows for clear goal setting and is a way to specify solid sales targets and team goals.
Specific: Define the business goals and KPIs upfront. This includes step-by-step points regarding sales objectives and other specific goals.
Outline the exact approach to increase revenue, time frames, and the process involved.
For example, if sales calls are the best sales activity for a specific customer base, then outline the process in detail, provide sales call scripts, tactics to cross-sell products, and ways to respond to customer objections.
Measurable: You must define your specific goal in order to benchmark progress and evaluate performance along the way.
For example, if the sales goal is to increase revenue by $2M, configure your sales tools, automation, sales metrics, and sales reports to clearly track team performance toward the target.
Achievable: Set attainable targets for your teams. It’s great to set big goals and push teams toward success—but if it’s not an achievable goal, this strategy won't be effective.
If your company brought in $350,000 in revenue the previous quarter, it’s unrealistic to set the goal at $6M for the next quarter.
Realistic: Set goals that are realistic with your ideal customer base. If a specific sales channel doesn’t work with your audience, don’t waste time on it.
Evaluate historical performance data on specific demographics. If email sales outreach has been highly effective for closing new business, continue with this tactic—while continuing to iterate.
Time-Bound: Set a fixed deadline for each specific sales goal. It’s easy to get carried away in a sales campaign—but you want results, and you want them by X date.
8. Don't Expect to Get Your Sales Goals Right on the First Try
There are only three components for success in the startup world: Build, measure, and repeat. Your sales goals are no different.
As your business and team change and grow, you’ll need to adapt to real-world results.
If a salesperson hits their stride and starts knocking goals out of the park, see how you can continue to motivate and push them. Similarly, if someone’s having a down month, take the time to go deep. Pull them aside and see what’s going on. Get insight into their approach and give feedback.
And just because something works doesn’t mean it’s the best process. Once you think your sales goals and process are in a good place, keep iterating. Maybe your sales pitch script is clunky and needs some work, or your emails could generate better response rates.
Don’t worry if things don’t work out right away. And if they do, keep questioning them.
Iteration can make a good sales process great.
7 Sales Goal Examples for Your Sales Team to Use Today
Sales goals come in all shapes and sizes, and should be adjusted to the needs of your company and the capabilities of your team.
That said, here are seven examples of sales goals you might set for your team.
1. Reduce Customer Churn
Customer churn is the overall rate at which customers cancel a subscription or stop using your product. This metric is essential for any company, but especially so for SaaS businesses.
In SaaS, the average churn rate hovers around five percent. This number could vary for early-stage startups and huge, established companies.
It’s important to evaluate overall customer churn rates on an ongoing basis and meet with sales managers to strategize ways to reduce churn and maximize customer retention.
To start, you might:
- Prioritize providing value to existing customers—via the product, etc.
- Invest in a customer support team.
- Use customer success tools, like a CRM, to track and respond to customer complaints and pain points early.
Getting your churn rate under control is one type of sales goal guaranteed to boost revenue—and reduce costs.
2. Increase Customer Lifetime Value
Customer lifetime value (CLV) measures the overall revenue per customer over their time doing business with your company.
Knowing and optimizing your CLV improves profitability, provides valuable insight into loyal customer behavior, and improves forecasting and your overall business plan. Important, right?
That’s why this is a particularly effective sales goal for managers to use to elevate team performance—and increasing that value over time is a great sales goal to work towards.
There are many methods you can use to increase customer lifetime value. Here are just a few:
- Create personalized experiences: Sales might be a numbers game, but no customer wants to feel like one. With the help of your CRM, keep track of customer behavior, concerns, or their dog’s name, and tailor your communication.
- Launch referral or loyalty programs: 84 percent of buyers now kick off their buying process with a referral. When you create a well-designed referral program, you boost your CLV potential. 91 percent of existing customers say they’d give referrals—but only 11 percent of salespeople ask.
- Offer quality customer support: The customer has signed the deal—but the journey has just begun. Superior customer support strengthens your relationship with customers, enhances your reputation, and deepens customer loyalty.
- Increase average order value: Upselling and cross-selling? Yep, you should be optimizing those within your sales process.
It’s cheaper—and easier—to maintain existing customers than acquire new ones. By boosting customer lifetime value, you are paving the way to higher revenue.
3. Increase Deal Size
Let’s talk upselling and cross-selling.
Upselling encourages customers to buy an upgraded version of the intended purchase, while cross-selling is about offering additional, complementary products/services. Both practices aim to deliver more value to the customer—and increase deal size.
You can also offer bundling options (perhaps at a slight discount, but overall higher price) to encourage people to buy more. Approaching a deadline? Make it a limited-time offer.
The strides taken to reach this goal don’t have to be huge. Even an incremental increase in deal size (say, five percent) boosts revenue significantly over time. Just make the goal specific and measurable, provide the right tools, and watch what happens.
4. Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost
Sales managers need to be on the lookout for ways to keep acquisition costs low without compromising on sales delivery or team performance.
To start, you need to answer this question: Who is my ideal customer? Once you’ve identified who you want to acquire, you can strategize which resources you want to employ—and do it in a streamlined, cost-effective manner.
To do this, analyze and adjust your sales process. You might:
- Optimize conversion rates
- Equip employees to focus on customer retention
- Utilize customer referrals (this one’s huge)
Also, keep in mind that knowing your customer lifetime value helps you determine acceptable customer acquisition costs. If one specific customer segment has a high CLV—they’re worth a higher acquisition cost.
Consider ways to work with your reps to increase the quality (and quantity) of the qualified leads coming through your sales funnel, based on historical performance, as well as ways to increase win rates without increasing costs.
For example, the AI-powered cold email generator in Close CRM saves your team time and resources while boosting (quality) outreach. And the customer acquisition cost? Falling—rapidly.
5. Improve Close Ratio
The close is an art—but it’s also a science. To improve your close ratio, you need to study your sales process and activities, and equip yourself (and your team) with best-practice closing techniques.
Each technique is better suited for certain customer situations than others. For example, “The Takeaway Close” is best when the prospect is objecting to price and your product/service is multi-tiered. In this one, you remove unneeded features—and discount accordingly.
After teaching your sales team closing techniques, make sure they’re also empowered to navigate late-stage objections to turn that “no” into a “yes.” Sometimes, simple adjustments to your sales pitch and follow-up game are all you need to improve that ratio.
And, no pressure, but remember: If you aren’t closing deals, your company will wither and die. You need to lock this shit down.
Monitoring closing ratios also helps sales professionals to identify the best sales strategies that produce the best results. If your process is right, close ratios are directly related to your sales efficiency. Maximize efficiency to maximize close ratios.
6. Increase Cold Call Quantity + Quality
Cold calling is not obsolete—and it doesn’t have to be a gigantic pain in the neck.
Successful cold calls pique the recipient's interest and lead to follow-up meetings. In fact, 82 percent of buyers say they’ve accepted sales meetings after a connection that began as a cold call.
Also, companies that don’t leverage effective cold calling experience 42 percent less growth than companies that do. Paying attention?
Setting activity and performance benchmarks, including cold call quantity and target conversion rates, are valuable sales goals. The effort can pay dividends.
However, if your outreach process isn’t smart, cold calling can also be a time-wasting pain. Close knows. That’s why our CRM—designed specifically for agile SMB sales teams—features built-in calling to support your cold calling outreach.
Our Predictive Dialer calls multiple numbers at once, routing an available sales rep once a real human picks up—and the Power Dialer helps you burn through lead lists automatically, without switching apps. Want to double your outbound call volume? Start your 14-day free trial of Close now.
7. Follow up with More Prospects
Follow-up hustle is one defining characteristic of a successful sales team.
Without it, you’re leaving deals on the table. That’s a fact.
80 percent of sales require five follow-up calls after a meeting—and yet, 44 percent of sales reps give up after one attempt. Yikes.
Setting follow-up sales goals will boost growth and help you meet your revenue targets, while also teaching your team persistence and how to navigate sales objections.
There are many follow-up avenues you can employ, track, and quantify to ensure you’re hitting those sales goals, including: email, calling, social media, handwritten notes, in-person meetings, and more.
How do you measure how effective your follow-up is? Response rates. Conversion rates. CTA click-throughs. All the stuff your tech stack (and CRM) can track and convert into valuable insights for your team.
First, set your follow-up sales goals (activity- or performance-based)—then, equip your team with best practices, tools, and motivation to crush the game.
Long-term Goals That Supercharge Growth + Sales Revenue
We’ve talked a lot about sales goals here, but what about ones that don’t directly relate to revenue (at least at first)?
For long-term success, you need a committed sales team that will grow alongside you—whether you're running a Fortune 500 or a startup.
So, also be sure to set goals around:
- Revenue generation
- Personal + professional development
Take the time to understand your sales team and what’s holding them back. Then, set goals around the areas that need improvement.
And remember: Setting and measuring goals isn’t enough.
You need to provide guidance and support in helping them achieve these goals. That’s why Close is the top-choice CRM for growing sales teams. Our solution provides in-app call coaching, and tracks individual user sales activities and results.