The year is new, the books are fresh, and the revenue is yours for the taking! All that’s left to do is set your business’ sights on success. That means making goals of what you want to accomplish in the coming year.
Not all goals are created equal, though.
We all have lofty goals, such as completing an Ironman or learning a new language. What separates these fantasy goals from the practical goals you’re actually going to accomplish?
That is where SMART sales goals come into play. They can help you create a more effective sales team and start working towards what you want to accomplish.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART is a mnemonic device to help you set and own your most important objectives this year. Each letter stands for an attribute to pay attention to when setting your goals:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Time-Bound
We’ll discuss what these mean and action steps you can take to achieve them. Plus, we’ll be suggesting types of tech that can help you truly supercharge your SMART strategy in 2021.
Why You Need SMART Goals
Too often, leaders set up their teams and companies for failure by creating vague and overambitious goals. While setting goals is essential for making sure everything is on track, the wrong goals can lead to feelings of defeat and low morale.
SMART goals can help you combat poor goal setting. Here are some benefits of using SMART:
We all want to feel like we’re working towards something better. However, vague goals are too overwhelming. SMART goals offer practicality to keep the team motivated and focused on the right objective.
Your team knows you want to increase sales, for example, but without clarity it can quickly fall apart. Do you want them making more cold calls, targeting better leads, or taking advantage of more cross-selling opportunities? The more clarity you provide, the more likely you are to reach your goal.
If everyone is on the same page, it is easier to set workers accountable who don’t measure up to the standards. It is also a much simpler process to track whether they are keeping up with the stated goals.
The concept of manifestation is controversial, but the belief that you can’t achieve what you don’t imagine is commonly accepted. The more both you and your team can visualize what success looks like, the more likely you will all work better towards the goal.
Because SMART turns vague, lofty goals into practical steps, teams are much more likely to respond better to them. Teams that create and use SMART goals will be more productive than those who don’t. In fact, research shows that those who stick to SMART goals achieve 10 times as much as those who don’t.
How to Create a SMART Goal
1. Specific: Do the Math to Set Exact KPI Goals
It’s just like with New Year's resolutions: if your goal is to “go to the gym more,” you are significantly more likely to fail than if you resolve to “go to the gym during my lunch break at work three times a week.”
In sales, this means you’re going to want to have goals that relate to specific KPIs, which are key performance metrics that signal success. For instance, a few of the most universally important KPIs to keep an eye on are:
- Lead response time: Studying the time it takes to respond to your leads, and understanding what is causing delays, can maximize your team’s conversion rate.
- Opportunity win rate: Both a count percentage (which is the number of deals) and a value percentage (how much money those deals brought) can quickly give you a snapshot of your general growth.
- Average purchase value: Comparing the amount of money you’re bringing in to your total number of customers can help you identify which ones you want to focus on upselling.
Knowing basic KPIs and comparing them to your history like these can help you set specific goals like:
- More lucrative deals: Increase your deal size by 25% by using upselling techniques
- Better win rate: Achieve a 30% win rate by the end of the year
- Quicker customer service: Decrease lead response time by 5 minutes by the end of Q2
Examining your CRM’s functionality when it comes to these calculations is crucial. Beyond historical data, many modern software options can bring in market research or signals so that you’re not just comparing your data to yourself, but to your industry.
- Decide what KPIs are most important to your business
- Set a specific target for those KPIs
- Set up your CRM to automatically calculate them
2. Measurable: Create Systems to Monitor and Share Your Progress
Related to specificity is measurability. The metrics you choose must be easy to track, understand, and distribute to your company’s stakeholders.
Will one of your team members be responsible for sending out a weekly status update on your sales numbers? Is each sales representative responsible for tracking their own success rate in-between check-ins? You know your team better than anyone and will need to figure out the proper amount of oversight required.
But beyond that, automating as many data analytics as possible with a CRM is key. For example, if your specific goal is to shift your Sales Closing Ratio from 1:7 to 1:5, a CRM can continuously calculate your ratio and automatically send it to your sales team so they can monitor their own deals.
It’s important to note that measuring the end result alone is not enough—getting data points along the way is important for course correction. To close more deals, it’s helpful to be able to see what happens in each stage of our customer’s journey. Are many customers dropping off at some point? Do you have one customer segment that’s significantly out-performing another? Data is your friend. Track it and use it.
- Decide how you will monitor and share data. Will team members be mostly expected to track their own numbers in a CRM? Will you disperse team data via email or another communication tool like Slack?
- Get the system up and running, and ensure your team knows how to use it
3. Achievable: Enable Your Team to Succeed
Does your team have everything they need to achieve your goals?
Having frank and honest conversations about their performance and your expectations will help you determine that. When introducing goals, take the time to show them why their specific piece of the puzzle matters in the big picture. That way they can understand why you’re asking them to do what you need them to do.
But beyond just introducing the goal itself, some serious thought should be given to the development, training, and coaching you’re giving your team. A great sales enablement tool can help you distribute new market research, sales materials, or tool training programs with ease. This will help your team shift to “insight selling” (or account-based selling).
Another way to ensure success is to keep an eye on morale. Opportunity visualizations can be exciting. If your team can look at something instead of a spreadsheet full of numbers, it will be much easier to keep them motivated and even encourage them to set their own personal goals higher. It’s the whole “pictures are worth a thousand words” thing.
Speaking of which, when is the last time you’ve revisited your incentivization program? What kind of bonuses are you offering? Are they industry standard?
- Sit down with your team members (or team managers) to discuss your 2021 sales goals
- Identify a sales enablement tool that’s right for your team
- Update your incentivization programs
4. Relevant: Keep Your Audience Close and Your Competitors Closer
Your sales instincts can be pretty trustworthy, but it’s always important to check back in with your audience and double-check your assumptions. This can be done by reviewing your analytics to create a fresh customer avatar (or buyer persona) for 2021. Be sure to include things like:
- What is their relationship to the main decision-maker?
- What solutions do they need for their professional problems?
- What industry trends are they interested in understanding?
Once you’ve built out your avatar, compare your team’s internal goals with your customers’ desires, wants, and needs. For example, you may think that the best way to increase the average order value is by getting customers to buy more premium versions of the products they already buy when, in reality, they’re more interested in diversification.
Predictive analytics can also be helpful here. Data from your CRM can be used to discover insights like:
- Lead scoring metrics: Use aggregate details about your happy customers to figure out key indicators that can determine which leads will convert
- Sales forecasting: Compare your specific, measurable goals to what you’ve achieved in the past to make accurate projections
- Activity optimization: Analyze which specific sales activities lead to the most closed deals, and then cater your pitch strategy to match
Now that you’ve studied your audience, think about your competitors. What are they offering? How can you position yourself to be more useful to your audience? If you can’t, what can you develop to do so?
- Create a new, updated Customer Avatar for 2021
- Ensure your goals align with what your Customer Avatar wants
- Analyze your competitors’ strengths and limitations to compare to your own
5. Time-Bound: Schedule Manageable Milestones
Good ol’ Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
Or: If you give yourself an unlimited amount of time to accomplish something, you’ll never get it done.
Since we’re talking about your 2021 sales goals, it’s pretty fair to assume that many of your goals should be achieved “by 2021.” That’s fair enough. But what would make these goals even stronger (and SMARTer) is if you created accompanying milestones (or important mini-goals) along the way.
Let’s start quarterly. Say, for example, your goal is to increase the average order size from $2,000 to $3,000 by 2021. You could set quarterly goals to keep you and your team on track:
Each quarter can be further broken down into monthly or weekly targets to enable those goals. These smaller milestones might not have a dollar amount attached but may encourage activities that support the larger strategy, such as increasing outreach or refreshing pitches.
Of course, this example works itself out pretty simply—but if you chose measurable KPIs, it should be fairly easy to create milestones of your own. Your CRM should be able to help keep you on track through automatic alerts and by displaying data based on the milestones you choose.
Remember: The more milestones you set, the more chances you have to do a recalibration before it’s too late.
- Work with team members and managers to set realistic timeframes for your goals
- Schedule check ins to track their progress
Examples of SMART Goals
Now, with all of this in mind, it’s time to actually commit to some goals.
When writing out a SMART goal, aim to use these fields in this or any order:
“[Actionable Verb] + [Measurable Metric] + [Date] + [Specific Benefit] + [Relevant Rationale]”
Here are some examples, categorized by T (or time):
Weekly SMART Goals
- Complete at least 25 cold calls by the end of this week to increase my commission because I’m likely to close 2 more deals if I increase my calls by 10%
- Upsell our new product to 15 current clients this week to help my team’s goal of an $2000 increase in revenue because I’m likely to close five of them
Monthly SMART Goals
- Create email campaigns for at least 100 leads by October 1 to increase our close rate by 5% because our data suggests that will help us acquire 10 more customers
- Help team adopt Map My Customers as our CRM by enacting an internal training plan because it includes all the resources they need to learn how to use it
Yearly SMART Goals
- Increase our average sales price (ASP) by $1000 by EOY to increase our profits by $10,000 because our projections indicate it will do so
- Decrease our average deal cycle by 5 days with an automated email prospecting strategy by EOY because it will free up an average of 10 hours of work per employee
Tips on How to Measure Sales Goals
Goals without accountability will quickly fall to the side. Your sales team can sense if they will not be held accountable to new standards and revert back to their old practices. Here are some ways you can measure your sales goals to make sure your team stays on track:
Set Waterfall Goals
It is difficult to go from 0-60 when it comes to achieving goals. Your team may need some time to recalibrate and produce at a higher level.
For example, if your sales team makes 10 cold calls a day and you want them to start making 30, trying to make that change in one week may be overwhelming for them. Instead, create stepping stones on the way to the overall goal to make it more obtainable. It might make more sense to make the first week 15 calls, then 20, then 25, and so on until you get to the overall goal.
Goals are made to increase motivation, but too much at once is more likely to kill it. Make the steps manageable for your team.
Create a Visual Dashboard
The brain is much better at interpreting visuals over numbers. A visual dashboard will not only help leadership quickly identify who is reaching their goals and who may need more help, but it can also provide extra motivation for reps as well.
You can create a dashboard that reps can check on themselves, or use gamification with a dashboard everyone can see. The use of competition may help to further incentivize your team to perform.
Monitor Your Team with Sales Technology
Some managers stick to overly complicated systems to track each rep and make sure they’re achieving their goals. However, sales technology can help you streamline your processes to make tracking your reps a breeze.
Map My Customers offer performance tracking capabilities that will help you keep your team motivated and accountable. Whatever your sales goals, you can track your reps performance and make sure they are all staying on task.
Set Up Regular Check-Ins
If your sales reps know that they will be regularly held accountable for their performance, they are more likely to stay on task and accomplish the goals laid out for them. Use both collective and individual meetings to not only hold sales reps accountable, but help them work through any issues they are facing.
Group meetings can help you catch up with your reps, troubleshoot any challenges they are facing, and offer encouragement and motivation. Individual meetings can help you work through the more personal issues your reps are facing and help you avoid singling anyone out in the group catch-ups.
Set and Measure SMART Goals in 2021
If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, thoughtful planning will get you far. No matter what industry you’re in, setting SMART goals and taking action steps to implement them into your day-to-day will help you do that.