Written by Ryan Farley

Last updated 10 February 2023 ·

Five unique approaches to creating OKRs for sales, complete with OKR examples in context

Creating goals and OKRs for your sales team isn’t the same as setting goals for your other teams. When you work with a customer support employee to develop a goal, the goal is a tool to help them measure or focus on one aspect of their job. With a salesperson, the goal is the job. And great salespeople can smell a subpar goal from a mile away.

When you follow a structured framework, crafting sales goals your team will love working toward isn’t hard. But it requires unique approaches and out-of-the-box thinking to generate extraordinary results. Here are five ideas and sales goals examples to get you started.

Five strategies for sales goals that keep salespeople aligned and motivated

Sales goals should adhere to the SMART definition of goal-setting (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) or the more modern equivalent of FAST (Frequently discussed, Ambitious, Specific and Transparent). Beyond that, it’s worth learning the differences between SMART goals and OKRs for sales. That will help you focus on metrics with a better chance of long-term success. Here are some examples:

Include lead measures in your key results

Lag measures (sometimes referred to as ‘outputs’) are backwards-looking and focus on the results of sales activities (e.g., revenue, sales volume, or customer satisfaction). They may tell you how well a quarter went but not how well a quarter is going. When you have lag measures, it’s too late to change your strategy.

Lead measures (sometimes called ‘inputs’) are more effective in guiding and motivating sales teams because they create opportunities for salespeople to update and improve tactics mid-cycle.

Sales OKR examples could include the following key results: 25 sales calls made weekly, 10 meetings scheduled, or 5 proposals sent per month.

Stop giving your team pass/fail sales goals

These types of sales goals – where a salesperson either hits their target or “fails” – often oversimplify performance. Pass/fail sales goals can lead salespeople to prioritise hitting the target over building long-term customer relationships, product knowledge, and strategic planning.

One way to avoid this issue is to give salespeople OKRs, objectives and key results that aren’t based on monetary amounts. You can also grade sales goals on a scale to reward performance ranging from minimum acceptable targets all the way up to stretch goals.

Sales OKR examples could include key results such as £500/£2,500/£10,000 bonus for a 5/50/250% increase in sales compared to last quarter.

Reassess and adjust sales OKRs and goals mid-cycle

Today’s sales environments and circumstances can change in the span of a coffee break. OKRs relevant not long ago may no longer be feasible or appropriate. One of the best ways to avoid sticking with outdated OKRs is to review them during every 1-2-1 meeting so you and your salespeople can course-correct them as needed.

Beyond giving your team a sense of progress and accomplishment, regularly reviewing goal progress with salespeople ensures they feel involved and part of the process. Someone who helped formulate a goal rarely feels it is unrealistic or unachievable.

Sales goals examples: For every annual sales goal, make sure you have quarterly check-ins. For quarterly goals, schedule monthly check-ins. And if you have monthly plans, ask your salespeople how they’re progressing during weekly meetings.

Include OKRs based on training, education, and mentorship

Every organisation should have at least one goal (or key result) based on developing salespeople’s skills. Your operation will grow, and your team’s abilities should evolve with it. There are countless ways to encourage salespeople to level up their skills, making this approach one of the easiest to think outside the box.

Career development goals boil down to three considerations: Who will do the learning? What will the subject matter be? Who/what will do the teaching? Answer those questions based on industry trends, advancements in sales technology, or product updates. You’ll have a neverending list of goals to work towards.

Sales goals examples: Junior salespeople might want to shadow a senior salesperson twice a month. Or your team could commit to attending at least one sales conference or experimenting with at least one new sales technology per quarter.

Use the OKR for sales framework to align your goals with the company vision

The last thing you want is to pick numbers out of a hat when setting sales goals. Unfortunately, that’s what many organisations end up doing. Following the 1-3-5® OKR process is a surefire way to ensure that the number you focus on is based on forethought and planning.

Getting started with OKRs requires research, but there are plenty of helpful guides to get you started. If you have a goal-setting system and have taken time to explain it to your salespeople, you’ll never need to answer the “where did these numbers come from?” question again.

Sales OKR examples: Suppose the vision is to have more customers than any other company in your industry within five years. Then you might want to be 75% of the way there by year four, 50% by year three, and so on.

Use OKR software to hit sales goals more often

High-performing sales teams often leverage technology to provide real-time visibility of progress toward individual, team, and organisational goals. There are dozens of OKR software options, and it’s vital that you take stock of which features you need and what questions to ask before choosing the right tool for you.

This article includes five unique approaches to sales goals because the number of key results we have found is best when developing OKRs. It’s all part of Reclaro’s 1-3-5® framework, which works so well we built an OKR tracking tool around it.

Book a demo today to see how it works.

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