The Key to Setting Achievable Sales Goals
Once upon a time, the traveling sales rep was a recurring character in every far-flung community. Selling everything from vacuum cleaners to milkshake makers, the sales rep would go door to door and convince housewives or shop owners to place an order. Back then, sales goals were simple: pitch your products to the most people and hope for the best.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and field sales have given way to the modern sales process. A company’s online presence generates the majority of leads and prospects. Office-based employees collect, qualify and contact these leads. In some cases, the sale concludes without ever meeting the client face-to-face.
Field Sales Won’t Go Away
Even as companies rack up sales with just the phone or an Internet connection, field sales won’t be going away anytime soon. While customers are more comfortable with the digital marketplace, they still want the assurance of in-person interactions every now and then. That’s why hybrid sales teams are growing. When field activities are on hold, sales representatives can continue their work using modern, smart technology.
At the same time, sales reps now have the means to bring information to the field. For instance, modern sales management tools can provide more accurate data on pricing or stocks. This gives customers the information they need to make faster purchasing decisions.
How do sales managers determine sales goals in this era of hybrid sales representatives and changing roles in the field? Is it just about revenue and growth, or should they also factor in customer experience? What about the conditions affecting the current market?
Whatever goals get set, management should ensure they are achievable and relevant to the entire sales team. To do this, managers should come prepared with a well-conceived plan and have the best tools available.
Metrics, Plan and Strategy for Sales Goals
Companies usually set sales goals by getting last year’s numbers and simply adding a minimal but acceptable growth rate. Your sales team deserves better. For instance, market conditions might have changed. Trends that popped up last year have likely died down. Core markets are growing up. In other words, there are far too many variables that remain unaccounted for.
To flesh out the details of the sales goals, start with a sales plan. This outlines the business strategies and assigns the corresponding targets. In addition, the sales plan identifies steps the sales team must take to achieve the goals. To help keep all members of the organization on the same page, the sales plan should establish the metrics used when measuring progress toward the sales goals.
Specifically, the sales plan helps define the sales goals and identifies the corresponding strategies to apply to the target market. It also contains details on the sales budget as well as the milestones to help chart progress. Companies usually execute the sales plan alongside the marketing plan, which sets different targets. However, both plans usually aim for the same overall goal of profitability and growth.
The Companion Marketing Plan
The accompanying marketing plan paves the way for sales to ultimately accomplish revenue and growth goals. It contains specific action plans to help increase awareness for both the brand and the company.
To steer customers toward the brand, the marketing plan outlines the programs that connect the customers’ needs with the brand and the solution it offers. It should also outline the various campaigns that can help boost the brand’s reputation for having the answer to customers’ questions.
Preparing the Sales Plan
The targets, strategies and approaches outlined in the sales plan usually get their basis from market research findings. Getting insights from customer behaviors can determine their future consumption patterns. When conducting market research, make sure you understand perfectly who your target market is. This includes understanding which market segments your brand is servicing, how much your market share is and what buyer personas represent your market.
When conducted properly, market research will reveal why customers are buying your product, what market position your brand is occupying and how your competitors are faring. All these answers can help you formulate your strategies and make your sales goals more accurate.
Defining the Sales Strategy
The sales strategy outlines a product’s positioning and details what sets it apart from competitors. It also lists the specific objectives the company must meet to achieve the identified sales goals. No information is too detailed for the sales strategy. Everyone must have the same clear understanding of what needs to be done and what is at stake. That’s why the sales strategy should include guidelines, metrics and milestones to help track the company’s progress.
Apart from setting the goals and the internal mechanisms to accomplish these goals, the sales strategy should also have provisions for customer communication. After all, sales goals aim to increase revenue and nurture growth. The only way to accomplish both is to make customers happy. Therefore, part of the sales strategy should include communication that helps provide value for the customer, enhances the customer experience and differentiates the brand from others.
Refining the Sales Strategy
With the sales strategy defined, you should now hone the strategy. This will ensure your message will resonate with your target audience and help you meet your sales goals.
1. Define the USP and VSP
Developing both a unique selling proposition (USP) and a value selling proposition (VSP) can help a brand stand out from its competitors. However, bear in mind that other companies will also create their own USPs and VSPs. This is where your marketing department’s role as a provider of marketing intelligence comes into play. Knowing how others sell themselves can help you define your unique position.
Contrary to popular opinion, positioning your brand as the best among its class doesn’t make it unique. Even with a multitude of competitors, your brand doesn’t need to compare itself with others—this only spurs buyers into making a selection. To provide a USP, you must redefine the need based on the solution only your brand can provide.
2. Focus on the Problems Customers Have, Not the Product Features
Sales and marketing people often confuse selling with taking customers through the sales process. Not only does this approach not answer the buyer’s basic questions, but it also makes it seem like the brand employs a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Instead, change the conversation into a customer-deciding journey. Talk about the problems buyers have that made them look for solutions. Then, pile on the messaging and content that confirms a unique solution is available. Don’t rely entirely on commodity messaging, which only shows solutions to specific problems buyers have raised. Instead, bring up unforeseen problems buyers might have overlooked. Then, deliver the message that the brand addresses these unforeseen problems.
3. Share a Story
While factual information can provide an authoritative voice, you don’t want to lose the audience due to a lack of engagement. Before detailing a product’s features and benefits, you must connect with the audience. You can achieve this through storytelling, where personal stories, anecdotes and analogies combine to make the message more relatable. This helps reduce the heavy-handedness of reciting a tech sheet.
Storytelling also gives your brand opportunities to connect with the audience on a personal level. Once you get your audience engaged with your stories, it’s much easier to sell them an idea or a product.
Set Ideal Targets for Growth
For modern companies, revenue isn’t enough to determine success. What makes good companies great is the presence of growth. As markets grow, companies supplying the products and services must have the means to answer the increased need. Otherwise, it risks losing out to upstarts or rivals.
The question is not whether to set a growth target, but how. How can a company set its growth target for the next cycle? Setting inaccurate growth targets can lead to problems down the line. Your sales team runs the risk of missing its sales goals when the targets are inexplicably too high. Meanwhile, setting the bar too low can cause complacency among members of the sales team. Even worse, the company can report that goals were met but will have nothing to show for it in terms of additional revenue.
How to Set Realistic Targets
A realistic growth target should account not only for the previous year’s growth rate but also for current company value and the sales team’s performance. In addition, insights generated by analytics software on emerging trends and business intelligence can help complete the story. Together, these factors provide a more accurate picture of how much growth a company should expect.
In addition, targets should also consider the following:
Current Economic Situation: Is the country in the midst of a recession? Is inflation running wild, causing interest rates to rise? When the economy is good, people are more often in a buying mood, which means better expectations. However, when the economy is in the tank and interest rates are zooming upward, consumer mood can dampen.
Customer Feedback: Are most customers happy with the product and service they’re getting? Or, are many customers planning to switch to a competitor as soon as possible? What is the reason for either scenario? Knowing the current popularity (or notoriety) of your product or brand can help assess its perceived value for the next cycle. This not only allows sales reps to cut back on their expectations but also lets manufacturing scale down production to avoid overproduction.
Market Trends: Finally, stay on top of the market pulse by checking trends that can potentially disrupt the industry. Is a new product set to launch that offers superior value? Is an emerging technology set to make your product obsolete? Are customers shifting to another trending product? Answers to these questions can help you set more realistic sales goals.
Stretch Your Way up the Sales Ladder
Utilizing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) can help monitor performance. They also help inform the entire team whether they’re on track to accomplish goals. Each sales goal should have a set KPI the monitoring team can update periodically.
It’s important to learn the difference between a KPI and a metric. KPIs measure performance based on the accompanying business goals such as target revenue. Metrics measure specific business activities such as total sales and revenue. To further distinguish the two, KPIs cover strategic performances while metrics measure operational numbers.
KPIs and metrics both give a number to a goal. With this number, the company can foresee whether it can achieve its stated goal. If the numbers indicate the company is trending toward accomplishing its sales goals, the business could halt all plans to increase spending. Conversely, if the company metrics look like a dismal year for sales, leaders can choose to either launch additional promotional programs or shut down any further programs. Either way, ensure both metrics and KPIs contain realistic targets.
For the bold entrepreneur, calling out stretch goals carries the potential for sales teams to rally and hit their targets. However, missing out on this initiative can lead to a devastating loss of confidence and morale.
Take Measurable Risks and Make Small Changes
Tracking the progress on sales goals means getting an early read on whether the team is on track to hit its targets. If goals are out of reach, the company can implement a different strategy to improve the situation or simply cut all losses and let things play out. If things are going according to schedule, it’s time to commend the entire team and encourage them to beat the previous record.
Determining the course of action depends on where the KPIs and metrics stand. It will also depend on how well each member of the organization responded to the challenge of achieving all sales goals. This is why it’s important to give even the smallest unit a target KPI that, when accomplished, will contribute to the overall objective. This can be something simple as increasing lead generation rates or reducing customer churn. When the overall sales goals begin to register a positive number, the savvy sales manager can attribute the increase to the small improvements each group accomplished.
Achieve Sales Goals With Ingage
Communicating the sales goals with the rest of the team is necessary to accomplish these targets. In addition, sharing a single source of truth among members ensures all members get the same information. This means getting everybody on the same page and working together to achieve positive results. The right presentation software can bring your team together while monitoring the accomplishment of goals and targets.
Ingage is interactive presentation software that provides seamless collaboration among group members. Instead of having too many copies of the same document floating around, Ingage’s cloud-based system lets members collaborate on a single document. As a result, everyone can contribute to developing everything from the sales plan to the KPIs and metrics. Upon completion of the presentation, Ingage tracks viewer behavior to identify which parts of the presentation were more engaging and which sections need further work.
Visit Ingage to learn more about how our interactive presentation software can help you learn more about your clients. Reach out today, and we’ll arrange a free demo.