How to Meet Sales Targets Every Quarter
We are all going through unprecedented times and us sales folks are feeling the heat. Sales targets seem insurmountable and the pandemic has made us throw our strategies and objectives out the window and left us scrambling to identify ways to overcome the situation and stay successful.
A global pandemic, an overburdened healthcare system, an economic situation that could lead us into the next big recession—none of this has struck at the same time in about a century. The uncertainty across markets has pushed us into uncharted territory.
I am uniquely positioned where on a day-to-day basis I get to speak to various sales leaders, professionals and C-level executives across sectors and help them in choosing the right strategies and solutions for their sales and marketing efforts. I get an inside look at how their businesses are doing and the effect of Covid-19 on their strategies. While helping them succeed, I have noticed a few things that could help you and your teams in crushing your sales targets.
Types of Sales Targets
In the world of sales, the ability to meet sales targets is a key factor that defines how well a team or individual is performing. To become a high performing sales team and be among the top 1% or even make it to the President’s Club, we must classify targets for a sales team under two categories: primary and secondary.
Primary sales targets typically refer to:
- Number of deals closed
- New logos
These parameters are essential for the performance of the company, its products, and its marketing activities.
Secondary sales targets are more focused on internal processes. These must be based on the actions taken to help achieve the primary targets. Secondary sales targets make the foundation for any sales team to be in the top 1%. Actions such as:
- X number of cold calls made
- X number of demos
- Conversion ratio
- X number of emails sent
- Regular follow-ups made
- Proper discovery taken
These sales metrics must be tracked to make sure every Account Executive /Sales Development Rep / Account Manager is performing to their highest potential. These targets must not be tied to the variable/commission pay. Rather, offer them incentives such as an extra holiday in a quarter or a company paid dinner with happy hour or a company wide appreciation.
This will not only build a strong foundation for the team but also help each individual to become a better version of themselves and succeed wherever they go.
The idea is to make sure the groundwork is done right and regularly.
To excel consistently as an individual and as a team, team leads and managers must give equal attention if not the highest attention to the secondary sales targets over the primary targets by helping the sales reps complete the groundwork. As Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure.”
Challenges in Achieving Sales Targets
Global pandemic and recession:
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted industries all across the world in some way or the other. While the intensity varies for different markets, the pain is still felt. In situations like this, sales is the function that is hit first, which, inturn, affects the entire company.
This has forced companies to adapt to a new and different style of functioning that is bound to hit the economy. Dr. Bill Dudley, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, states that, “This time, the casualty is quite different. We’re having an economic collapse, a sudden stop to economic activity, and this is putting a lot of stress on the financial system.”
Analysts across the world are predicting that this pandemic could very well lead us to a major recession and this could be worse than the 2008 recession. While we may not know for sure on the recession front, we certainly have an indicator of what is to come, unlike the last time. The pandemic is real and we must learn to adapt to the new situation, or dare I say the new normal.
Excel sheets, Post-it notes, back of tissue papers, manually logging calls and creating reminders for follow ups, tracking customers on outlook, and losing track of customers. Any of these ring a bell? These are some common issues that arise when I speak to sales teams in various industries. Surprisingly, this is irrespective of whether the sales team represents a small business or an enterprise.
Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation, or MAA as I like to call the trio, are the three major technology solutions that every major company in every market is pursuing. We see these technologies adopted by every vertical in some genre or the other. Yet, sales as a function hasn’t really changed much. I still come across sales reps across industries not adapting and adopting digital solutions that can actually help in the implementation of their day-to-day sales process.
The problem with many of us today is that we look at these solutions with a perspective that if adopted, it should remove all of our problems and potentially help companies reduce their workforce. MAA must be looked at as a solution that can boost efficiency and help the existing workforce. These technologies are essentially designed to act as a catalyst and not as a substitute for various processes.
Changing buying behavior
Buying behavior, attitudes and purchasing habits are rapidly changing due to the pandemic and if you are in sales, understanding customer behavior is extremely important. Depending on where you are and who your target audience is, understanding the ground reality of what is happening on the customers’ side and embracing it is key to excelling in sales.
Our world is fundamentally changing due to the Covid-19 pandemic and you will certainly feel the heat on the sales front, be it in a B2C or a B2B scenario. We see people across the world cutting down on expenses and spending only on the essentials. Companies are back at the drawing board to figure a safe path to steer on—capping expenses and reworking budgets, re-evaluating tools, and aiming to keep only the essential.
The key word that prevails during a situation like this is uncertainty. Industries and end consumers are facing financial uncertainty and this makes it difficult for sales to perform and hit pre-Covid targets.
During a discussion with my team in March, I remember us brainstorming on how our Q2 would look and I could see worried faces across the room.
The first thing I told them is this:
“Acknowledge the pandemic and learn to use it to your advantage. In every situation there is always an opportunity. Learn what’s important to customers during a time like this, what are they feeling and thinking, understand their sentiments on the other end, and adapt.”
Fortunately, Q2 ended up being our best quarter yet.
In a way, the Covid-19 situation has helped certain industries, especially the SaaS industry, as it has pushed companies, both legacy and new startups, toward focusing on remote working. In a world where isolation is key to our survival, companies are using software to connect, learn and work and they will continue to do so. We are witnessing a major increase in virtual workforces and companies that put these solutions on the back burner until Covid are now targeting all their focus/resources on digital solutions to help them run their businesses. Read that again and tell me that doesn’t sound like music, especially if you are in the SaaS business.
We are all in this together. As I always say, “Stop Selling, Start Helping”.
Focus more on contextual information, and connect with customers on LinkedIn as it is by far one of the most powerful tools for a sales professional.
If you are in sales and have been at it for a while, you would have certainly come across a time where you sit back and think at the beginning of the month/quarter—is this possible? These numbers are insane, there goes my variable, what new strategy should I pull out of my hat to get this done, etc.
This feeling is completely normal and is, in fact, good as it pushes you to search for new ways, new techniques to sell more and sell better.
That said, companies must keep a close eye on the market and rework targets if necessary. Team leads and managers must closely monitor individual territories to see the places that are being affected the most and accordingly rework the targets. We wouldn’t want to demotivate the sales team in a time like this. Rather, I would say make them feel good and valued. That automatically will trigger the sales reps to perform at their best. Don’t push the targets down the throat without being conscious of the situation around the world. Make the sales targets more attainable for the sales reps based on the resources they have currently.
For instance, ever since the pandemic hit we have been closely watching our territories and accordingly balancing out the targets among the teams. New York was one of our top revenue states pre-Covid. When we heard that the entire state was going under complete lockdown and Covid cases were rising, we predicted a decline in revenue from that state and reworked the targets between the team and other territories. We went on to crush our team targets and individual targets, thus keeping the momentum going and achieving a positive mindset across the entire team.
There is no solid answer to an unprecedented situation like this. The importance of data analysis has never been more important. A few of the parameters we kept track of during this situation were:
- The intensity of the pandemic across all the industries
- The new strategies companies are adopting to continue functioning
- Intensity of the lockdown state by state
- Number of leads or opportunities being generated
4 Tips to Meet Sales Targets this Quarter
Here are a few tips that could be helpful for you or your team to meet the sales targets in this new world:
1) Be empathetic
While this should be prevalent at all times, it has never been more important than at a time like this. Your customers and you are going through the pandemic together. Hone the ability to understand the situation and the sentiments of your customers as this is what will help in distinguishing between a good salesperson and a great salesperson. Empathy is one of the most valuable skills a salesperson can learn. It will allow you to bond with your customers and enable you to understand their perspectives, challenges and their expectations.
2) Focus on providing solutions and value, and not just selling
Irrespective of which industry you are in and what you are selling, this rings true. It is your job to understand what the customer needs based on what he believes he wants. I often see a customer say they need X and when the team scrambles on the backend and provides them X the following day, the customer has moved on to X+Y or Y as a whole.
Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Show customers what they need by understanding what they want to achieve.
Over the years a lot of my clients have actually realized that the suggested solution makes much more sense for them and, in turn, they spread the word in their community, which ultimately brings in more leads through the referral system. Win-win for both.
3) Be aware of the situation around and strategically make choices
Offer a variety of payment options or sell on a module-module basis. Craft bundle packages that offer way more value than the customers expect.
- Getting as many new customers on board as possible is extremely important in a time like this. Do not make decisions based on solely the size of the deal.
- If you happen to be in a company that provides digital solutions that can help companies during this pandemic, it is our responsibility to educate the customer that investing in business continuity is the key to coming out stronger.
- Diversify your clientele by tapping into markets that are gaining momentum now—insurance, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, media, etc.
4) Take a step back and reconfigure
This is the best time to take a step back and analyze your sales process. We all have quirks in our sales process, be it not enough prospecting or not using the right tool to do so, lack of timely follow-ups, or even trying to upsell unqualified customers. But the point is you have to stop, identify the areas that need work and look for ways to solve them. None of us is perfect but we have to strive to deliver perfection. Look for courses online to upskill yourself and your team and become mighty strong as you face the new world.
5 Steps to Pick Right Tool for Tracking Sales Targets
Having the right technology stacks for your sales team is crucial if you are aiming for rapid growth and an efficient sales process.
The 5 step approach:
1) Build the skeleton:
Identify the complete structure of your sales and marketing teams and start aligning the integral points across that structure. This would essentially be the backbone of your customer engagement engine.
2) Diagnose the skeleton
Connect with the people working across that engine and understand the problems, where they think they can do better, and what they would need to get there. This will help you understand the ground reality and be as granular as possible. Sort of like a complete health check-up.
3) Internal analysis
This is the stage where you collate the data and map it out across the business. This step is crucial as this will give you visibility into what is needed to solve the pain points. Anything close to the integral points identified earlier must be dealt with immediately. This approach will help you prioritize the problems.
4) Visit the doctor
Reach out to solution experts who can help you in fixing your pain points. Do your due diligence and reach out to multiple experts. This will help you to get better perspectives on what you need. More information results in a better decision-making process.
Choose the right tool for the right job. Never rush into it unless you are absolutely sure. Look for a solution that can grow with you. Look for tools that will work with less maintenance while also having external support always available. The “Support” factor must be given as much importance as the “Cost” factor in your decision making process.
These five steps sure do sound easy and simple but based on my experience I have come across many companies that have not really pieced their sales and marketing process to work together.
Often we look at one problem and try to find a solution for that specific problem and then look at another problem and look for another solution. But at this point you have conditions that the new solution must integrate with the other solution. Marketing, Sales, Customer Support, and Customer Success must all work together.
CRM and sales targets
At the core you will always have the Customer Relationship Management tool. The CRM tool is the backbone of the customer engagement suite of solutions as it:
1) gives you visibility into your leads, existing customers, orders and deals
2) helps you forecast sales through pipelines
3) gives insights on how your business is doing so you can make the right decisions
Set targets for your sales teams based on the reports generated right within the CRM. Having a visual capability of tracking targets right on the CRM is a great way for the sales teams to know how close they are to meeting their sales targets for the month.
Sales targets could vary by type and can certainly be tracked in the CRM.
I have seen companies gamifying sales targets, which is a great way to bring out that competitive spirit. Choosing a CRM that works natively with a marketing solution for your outbound and marketing activities is key to an effective strategy.
Similarly, if you are in the business of providing support to your customers, look for a tool that connects natively to the CRM. The insights derived from all of this working together is immense and can prove extremely valuable. If you would like to explore a world like this, reach out to us and we would be excited to show it to you.
After all, Freshworks is dubbed as the “Visionary” in the customer engagement space by Gartner. So it’s safe to say it’s in our blood.
Sales being a high-pressure and result-driven role can put a lot of stress on your teams and take a toll on their mental health as well as yours. If you missed your quota last quarter or if you feel you are not up to the mark, take a breather. Failure happens to the best of us.
What is important is how we come out of it by learning from our failures. Identify the problems and work toward fixing it. Making small changes to your approach, understanding of sales targets and tracking it regularly can make a huge difference in the outcome.
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