4 Signs Your Sales Goals Need to Change

We’ve all seen the movies where drill sergeants will say “jump,” and the platoon of new recruits ask “how high?” I know it’s just an expression, but I have a serious problem with it because it implies two things. One, the sergeant didn’t give them a definitive goal in the first place, and two, the squad has to make it their job to ask what the sergeant expects from them.

No one should have to fail because their leader didn’t set the right expectations, especially in sales.

Sales goals give sales teams an understanding of what the company expects from them. So, if management can’t set the right targets, reps will have difficulty meeting their expectations.

But, seeing these flaws isn’t always crystal clear. Sales leaders can go months or years without knowing that their sales goals aren’t up to par. Luckily, there are a few signs that will show you when your sales goals aren’t at their full potential.


1. Your team can’t hit their targets

There are going to be a few overachievers that will meet your targets each quarter, but if the rest of your team is struggling to keep up, it’s not always their fault.

Sales targets are supposed to help motivate your team to match your company’s growth goals, but if they’re falling short every time, the motivation will start to fall away.

Imagine if a professor assigned his class a test, and year after year, the test average was a D. If it was an average for a single class, it could just be an especially lazy class, but if it happens consistently, it’s likely on the professor for making a test that’s too difficult.

It’s the same situation for sales goals. If your team is consistently missing their targets, they can start to feel a lack of motivation to reach them. So, make sure that your sales goals are attainable, but also not so easy that a fourth grader could achieve them.


2. Your team always hits their targets

It seems counterintuitive, right? It’s a “sales target,” not a “sales suggestion,” so why would you want them to fall short?

Think of it like a carnival game. What’s the point of putting up prizes if everyone who stops by wins? You might as well just have a painted sign that says “Giant Stuffed Rabbits: $5 Each.” 

But, when you give the game a few quirks that need the dexterity of a skilled player, only those who put in the effort will be able to take home a prize.

Let’s transfer this back to sales. If everyone hits their targets each month, the motivators you set out for them are too easy to get. They likely could have sold more, but there’s not a serious reason for them to push past the bare minimum.

So, give them sales goals that are harder to reach. Maybe try raising the bar a little bit higher than you normally would next month. Or, if they just completely crush their targets, try giving them a different kind of goal that keeps them motivated to sell more.


3. They don’t align with your company’s growth goals

Sales goals are great motivators for your team. They can help drive their ability to make more sales, connect with more prospects, and bolster your company’s overall win rate.

But, it’s always important to look at what your company needs. Sure, you can tell your reps to send out 200 cold emails by the end of the week but if your company is just focusing on win rate in the current quarter, what good will more cold emails do? 

That would be like going to a gym to train for a marathon, and immediately hitting the dumbbells. You’ll make good progress, but unless you’re running the race on your hands, you’re placing your focus on the wrong targets.

Sales goals need to focus on targets that the company needs to succeed. So, make sure every target you send out gets your company closer to reaching its goal.


4. Your team’s performance is all over the place

We talked about sales goals that are too outlandish and sales goals that are too easy to meet, but what about a mix of the two? Sales targets aren’t always as black and white as “either they meet them, or they can’t.”

Some of your sales reps might dominate their sales goals, while others fall way behind. In this case, you might not be offering the right sales goals.

Let’s say a company’s sales reps work in different territories and target companies with varying employee counts. This company’s sales leader gives their sales reps the following goal: “make $6,000 in new revenue by the end of the month.”

Sales reps who target high-value corporate offices will have a breeze with this type of sales goal. They might even be able to tackle it in a single sale. But, the sales reps who focus on startups likely won’t have the resources to meet that sales target. 

If you’re delegating sales goals to an entire team, make sure that your goals can apply to everyone equally, or give each sales rep individual goals. That way, they’ll feel like their targets are within reach.


Align your team with your company’s expectations.

It all comes down to connecting your sales team with your company’s goals. If your company needs something to succeed, how can you challenge your team to meet those goals? Or, if your team has more to offer than what your company is looking for, how can you set the bar higher and reward them for their efforts?

Just know that your sales goals aren’t going to be flawless forever. It’s on you as a sales leader to keep a critical eye out for how you can get the most out of your sales team, and switch up your strategy when something’s not working right.