How to Set Sales Goals Your Team Can Actually Reach (+ 14 Sales Goal Examples to Swipe)

Setting sales goals can feel like making a New Year's resolution—the perfect opportunity to give your business a fresh start and a clear direction for the year ahead.

But as the stupor of the holiday season wears off, that initial excitement wanes. That burst of optimism that accompanies the New Year might start off strong—like the people who start going to the gym five days a week and posting on LinkedIn every day.

But as January turns to February and Q1 leads to Q2, those ambitious sales goals you set for the team can become sidelined, forgotten as easily as many New Year's resolutions.

Sound familiar?

As a founder or sales leader at your company, it’s your responsibility to set realistic sales goals that pave the way for long-term success.

But that’s easier said than done.

The right goals are at the intersection of achievable and challenging—they keep your team motivated, your momentum strong, and your leadership satisfied. They aren’t just a fleeting New Year’s promise you make at the start of January—they’re a year-long commitment, a guiding star that you keep in front of your team for the entire year.

Let’s look at some killer sales goal examples and discuss actionable steps you can take to set sales goals that will help your team grow, grow, grow.

Setting SMART Sales Goals Can Help Maximize Performance: Here’s Why

SMART sales goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. That means they motivate your team by giving them specific work to do, and a clear finish line they can celebrate once they’ve crossed.

Here’s how SMART goals work in practice for your sales team:

  • Specific: Define your sales objectives clearly from the get-go. Make it real numbers.
  • Measurable: Define how you’re going to benchmark progress along the way and identify the point where you’ll know if you’ve achieved your sales goal.
  • Achievable: Goals are only motivational when your team knows they can reach them. Push your team to success but within their reasonable limits.
  • Realistic: Evaluate historical performance data and get real about what your team can actually accomplish in the market or time period. For example, don’t expect to increase sales by 50 percent in December—that’s just a recipe for disaster.
  • Time-bound: Every good sales goal has a fixed deadline. Results are good—results by X date are better.

Why does this work? Because when you set goals that are specific and challenging, science tells us you’ll get higher performance 90 percent of the time. Plus, a study by the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that presenting weekly progress reports of your goal increases your success rate by 40 percent. 

The point? Specific goals that you can measure are more motivational to your team.

14 Sales Goal Examples You Can Swipe for Your Team

According to our very own Nick Persico, Director of Sales and Marketing here at Close, there are three main types of sales goals:

  • Results goals are based on output and should be set for the whole team. New revenue or customer growth—or new MRR for SaaS companies—are great sales goal examples you can reach for.
  • Activity goals are great for your sales development teams and might include increasing the number of meetings booked or leads contacted.
  • Efficiency goals focus on a specific part of the funnel that helps the team's activity or results goals. Nick explains, “These are the sales metrics we use to figure out where improvements could be made to increase the overall numbers.”

Let’s talk more about specific sales goals examples you can set for your team.

Results-Based Sales Goal Examples

Results-Based Sales Goal Examples

Your main sales KPIs will set how you track your results-based goals. What results matter to your business? 

When you determine this, you’ll know how to set results-based sales goals for your team. These goals should be your guiding principles, the finish line that you’re all working towards. Everything you do should be pushing these results-based goals.

Here are some examples of results-based goals:

  1. New customer growth: Especially for companies that sell one product or service, new customer growth can be a major metric to track—and increasing that number is a great goal to set for overall business growth. “If you sell one $5,000 package, and that’s all you sell, you care more about the number of packages you sell,” explains Nick. 
  2. New revenue growth: Sales revenue is the total amount that you sell from any type of product, service, or package. “For example,” says Nick, “At Close, we care about annual revenue growth because people can buy multiple things, they add multiple users, and we want that overall number to go up over time.” In this situation, setting clear revenue goals is a great way to measure growth.
  3. New MRR growth: SaaS and subscription companies will monitor MRR growth like their life depends on it, and their sales goals and incentives will likely revolve around MRR growth and customer retention. These revenue targets will help teams think not just about closed deals, but about the customer lifetime value.

There are plenty of other results-based business goals you might set, such as reducing customer acquisition cost and customer churn rate, but these are less related to sales and more related to the teams working with your existing customers, such as the customer success and support teams.

Activity Sales Goal Examples

Activity Sales Goal Examples

Your sales development team is working hard to create new leads and get them qualified to hand them over to account executives. In most cases, your SDRs are paid commission based on their sales activities—which is why activity goals are especially important for these individuals.

Here are some sales goals examples based on activity:

  1. Leads contacted: How many new leads are your sales reps contacting every week? How about every month? If you set the goal to increase that number, how will that affect your bottom line?
  2. New meetings: Every new meeting that your SDRs book is a step towards a sale. So, an effective sales goal that will help generate new customers is increasing the number of new meetings booked.
  3. Opportunities created: An opportunity is created when a lead expresses interest in buying your product or service. So, set the goal of increasing the number of opportunities your reps create in the CRM.
  4. Outbound call length/number of outbound calls: Every sales rep makes calls, whether through outreach to new inbound leads or cold calls to new outbound leads. The length of those sales calls can tell you a lot about how interested your leads are—so setting a goal for outbound calls can help encourage more communication with prospective customers.
  5. Discovery calls completed: Discovery is an essential part of your sales process, making sure that you and your potential customers are a good match. You can track and set goals around the number of discovery calls that are completed by your sales team, bringing in new qualified leads.

Pro tip: Use Close to track activity metrics at a glance: The Activity Comparison Report shows you the exact activity numbers you want to track, separated by rep. That way, you can see exactly how your reps are advancing toward achieving their goals.


Efficiency Sales Goals Examples

Efficiency Sales Goals Examples

Finally, we have efficiency goals, the goals that help you measure and improve sales performance. “These goals are set around the deals your team is working on,” says Nick. “Are you squeezing the most out of these opportunities? Where can you improve?”

Here’s how he explains the separation of efficiency goals from results and activity-based goals: “Your whole sales team and individual team members should have results-based goals. Then, the folks generating new meetings at the top of the funnel should have activity goals. And then, everyone should have a spread of efficiency goals.”

Want to make your sales process more efficient? Here are some sales performance goal examples you can swipe for your team:

  1. Increase contact to opportunity creation conversion rate: When your team contacts a new lead, how often does that new lead become a qualified opportunity in your sales pipeline? Setting this goal can help your team be more conscious of how they qualify new leads.
  2. Increase opportunity creation to closed-won conversion rate: Setting sales goals around win rate and conversions can help you see whether your team is effective at closing potential deals and encourage them to improve their skills around the later stages of the sales cycle.
  3. Increase new leads to new customer conversion rate: This goal measures the success of your overall sales process, from the time a new lead is created to the time they become a customer. Setting the goal to increase this overall conversion rate will help your team focus on all the smaller actions inside the sales process that make a big difference in the outcome.
  4. Increase meeting attendance rate: Setting meetings is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if people don’t attend. If you’re seeing a low attendance rate, setting a goal around increasing attendance can help your team think about the specific things they can do to make sure people show up. (Just remember, 100 percent meeting attendance isn’t a realistic goal.)
  5. Reduce average number of touches: How many touchpoints do you need to go from new lead to closed customer? The lower this number, the shorter your sales cycle. Set this goal to help your sales team focus on making each touchpoint count.
  6. Increase average deal size: If you want to increase overall revenue growth, then this is an interesting efficiency goal to set. Try to increase deal size with upsells, cross-sells, or longer contract terms, and you’ll increase revenue.

Setting efficiency goals helps your team find new ways to improve sales performance, maybe by using automation or improving follow-ups.

How to Set Sales Goals That Actually Motivate Your Team (Step-by-Step)

So you’ve got some great examples of sales goals to set—but how do you set goals for your team? How do you decide which goals are important and which ones are attainable?

And, most importantly, how do you make sure your reps are motivated to actually achieve those team goals?

Let’s dig into how to set the best sales goals step-by-step.

1. Set Your North-Star Results Goal

Setting results-based goals is like setting that north star in the sky for your whole company—when you know the overarching goals you’re trying to achieve; everything else will fall into place.

So, start with what you know. What are your company's overall goals? Get a little deeper than "make more money" or "increase our bottom line" in a certain time frame.

For example, let's say your goal is to increase MRR (monthly recurring revenue) by 14 percent by the end of the next quarter. Sales goals like increasing new customer growth and average order value will help you get there.  

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 determine 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. (This is called sales forecasting—grab templates to do this here.)

2. Set Activity Goals for Your Sales Team

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 your team takes 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.

So, going back to our example above, let’s say you want to increase MRR. An important activity goal that will help you reach your overarching goal is for your SDRs to book more meetings. 

Always show your sales reps how their individual activity goals relate back to the larger goal—this will help them feel more motivated to reach their goals.

3. Focus on Improving One Efficiency Goal per Month or Quarter

Lastly, it’s time to work on sales performance goals, improving efficiency within your sales process.

Again, these efficiency goals always relate back to your main North Star results goal—they’re the smaller actions that get you closer to reaching those bigger goals.

Nick walks us through an example: “Let’s say your sales team has booked a ton of meetings, but nobody is showing up. You want to look at meeting attendance rates and increase that. Then, your sales development reps will focus on what tactics they can use to increase the meeting attendance rate.”

But there’s a caveat—efficiency goals are only attainable if you focus on one at a time.

As Nick says, “There’s always an opposite reaction to something you’re trying to improve. If reps focus on improving meeting attendance rate, they’re probably going to book fewer meetings because they’re focusing on getting those individuals to show up.

“What you do is focus on one goal each month or quarter and make that better. As you go through this cycle, the overall numbers will increase over time because the behaviors of those previous goals will stick.”

So, look at your sales funnel and see where you need to make improvements. Then, choose one efficiency goal for your team to work on and improve their sales performance.

Pro Tip: Use the Sales Funnel Report in Close to watch conversion rates between each stage in your funnel. Then, you can spot areas that need improvement, and set effective goals around those stages.


4. Give Your Team the Right Incentives to Smash Their Goals

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 the right incentives—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.

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 butts 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.

Final Thoughts: Achieving Sales Goals Can Be Hard—Here are 6 Tips to Set Goals Your Team Can Reach

If you’re a new sales manager or a business owner just setting up your first sales team, it can be hard to know if the goals you’re setting are realistic and motivating enough for your team.

If you’re worried about setting goals your team can achieve, try these six tips to set better sales goals.

  • Keep checking market conditions against your goals: Don’t set sales goals in a vacuum. Keep a pulse on the market conditions and potential—and when things change, reevaluate the goals you set to make sure they’re still realistic.
  • Educate and empower your sales team to do more: Setting goals is great—empowering your team to reach them is better. Work with your reps to see what they need to reach their goals, whether it be software, training, better lead generation, etc.
  • Be clear and transparent about sales goals and incentives: Transparency builds trust in your team. Be clear on what goals need to be met for commissions or other incentives to be paid out. Help your team see how their individual goals fit into the larger picture, and they’ll be more motivated to reach them.
  • Listen to your reps: Don’t be afraid to ask your reps whether the goals you’re setting seem reasonable. Talk to them about what kind of goals they prefer and how they prefer to be rewarded for reaching those goals.
  • Set stretch goals: Want to give some extra pep to your team? Set stretch goals—an ambitious sales target beyond 100 percent. These aren’t always meant to be completed, but provide direction and motivation to encourage your team to go above and beyond (often with an extra-special reward).
  • Don’t expect to get it right on the first try—just keep improving! There are only three components for success in the startup world: Build, measure, and repeat. Your sales goals are no different. 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.

Want some help in setting (and achieving) your sales goals? Close can help you track activity metrics and sales team performance while you stretch to reach your goals. Learn more about Close’s reporting features in our on-demand demo, or start a free trial to test it out for yourself.

Table of Contents
Share this article