SalesDetermining Targets for Your Inside Sales Team & How to Track Them

January 14, 2022by Stephen Howell
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Hitting targets. It’s the one element that matters to everyone in the sales funnel – from top to bottom.

But, determining these targets isn’t a straightforward process, and businesses often pay the price of being overly optimistic. Every inside sales leader will want to drive more revenue and see that bottom line constantly rolling, but without a data-backed plan-of-action there’s no way your team will hit that all-important number.

And then, we see the red flag rise. The dangerous combination of over-ambitious targets and over-promising reps is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. One that harms your revenue, the service/product you represent, and, of course, the reputation of your team.

If you’re a sales leader, you need to find the perfect balance between achievable goal setting and ambitious targets that motivate your team.

In today's blog

I'll take a look at determining targets and outline the best approaches to setting achievable goals.

1. Separating Your Targets

When we talk about sales targets generally, we often refer to the lower sales funnel. This is the instance of ‘You’re a salesperson, I’m going to give you a quota of $2 million for this year in closed-won sales’. That’s not necessarily the right starting line.

As an initial starting point, any sales leader worth their salt will want to recognize that there are separate targets in the two parts of the sales funnel: the lead generation pipeline and the sales pipeline.

While they’re closely linked, the targets at the top of the funnel may not be the same targets that are at the bottom, so as a sales leader it’s essential that you consider conversion rates across the board – from qualified lead conversion to closed deal rates.

Sales Pipeline Targets

We usually associate bottom-line sales targets with monetary goals and set specific targets for revenue, income and net profit.

Lead Generation Targets

Lead generation targets should come down to the appointments and activity needed to qualify leads into genuine sales opportunities

Sales Pipeline Targets

We usually associate bottom-line sales targets with monetary goals and set specific targets for revenue, income and net profit.

Lead Generation Targets

Lead generation targets should come down to the appointments and activity needed to qualify leads into genuine sales opportunities.

By considering both, you’ll be able to reverse engineer a target revenue number to discover how many leads need to be put in at the top end. You’ll build a model that’s wholly driven by the known historical conversion rates at each one of the key stages in the pipeline. This makes it far easier to understand the level of activity and leads required to see a return on investment and effort.

2. Determine the Difficulty

The next aspect worth considering is the difficulty of the program, which will help determine a suitable appointment set and held (turn-up rate) for your reps. There’s a range of different factors that go into this but a key one is the source; inbound, outbound or blended.

Inbound

Outbound

Blended

Setting benchmarks is only one side of the coin. Let’s say you’re aiming for a call-to-connect rate of 12%. What are you basing that number on? It’s never worth rooting your targeting in guesswork. If you want to boost retention rates and stop your sales reps from walking out the door, you’ll need to think about the achievability of the task at hand.

Cold Outbound – For cold outbound leads that have never engaged with your business before, the outreach process is going to be a sizable task. A rep will have to connect with the right decision maker, begin to network, build name recognition, and beat varying levels of competition.

Warm InboundInbound should have a very different target to cold, hard outbound. Inbound leads are warm by nature and are often served on a plate for an SDR to convert as an MQL or SQL. On the other hand, if your reps are doing hard, cold calling outreach, well, we all know the nature of the beast. It’s a continual process of research, outreach, introductions, demos, and a great effort chasing up before a lead is even remotely qualified.

3. Factor in Headcount

It’s just not reasonable or sustainable for a single rep to have the whole target for each month riding on their back. When setting targets, you’ll need to factor in headcount and the amount of reps needed to facilitate a target increase.

Sales leaders should delve into their historical data to uncover the sustainable activity level a single SDR can conduct on a reasonable day. Whatever the cadence is, you need to factor in the level of activity needed to meet your existing appointment target before ramping up. In doing so you’ll get a clearer visual on the manpower needed to service that higher target, based entirely on the capacity and performance of your existing sales operation.

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4. Consider the Sales Tools

You’ll also want to factor in the sales tools at the rep’s fingertips. Forty years ago, reps would take the phonebook and work their way from A through to Z – that just isn’t the case anymore.

If you’re powering your sales team with CRMs, sales enablement packages and sales automation tools, it’ll be far more efficient for the rep to do their work, potentially simplifying the task of hitting that target. Not to mention, your CRM will also feed you analytical insights into key performance indicators, meaning you’ll be able to root new targets on the actionable, historical data of your team’s recent, past and current performance.

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5. Monitoring Sales Performance

Monitoring sales targets isn’t all about playing a ‘Big Brother’ role over your team. It enables you to quantify your success and keep your eye on the ball, to see where things are excelling and where you may be slipping.

If you want to consistently win, you need to sit above your SDRs with a bird’s-eye view of their operation, from KPI data to performance metrics that help you forecast and assess the success of your current strategy.

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Identifying Rep Failure: An SDR not hitting a target isn’t necessarily a sign of failure. Sure, if every other rep in the team is meeting quota and that one rep is straggling behind, it’s a good sign that they’re in need of a coaching session.

Identifying Team Failure: If the team as a whole is falling beneath your benchmark, that’s an obvious sign that there’s some disconnect between your target setting and historical data, suggesting that the target needs to be adjusted, or at the very least suggests that you need to explore why.

5. Incentivize Overachieving

Here’s a poignant point: your target is there to set a benchmark, not a limit. By nature, sales teams will often work to the target and think of it as a cap on activity level. Twelve appointments isn’t necessarily the finite number they have to reach each month. If a greater number above the target can be achieved, this should be incentivized.

Without any clearly defined incentive, your team will be inclined to sandbag appointments. This is a common behavior tied to commission-based sales work whereby sales reps meet their target and push any remaining appointments into the next month to get a jumpstart – rather than working above and beyond.

The only way to avoid this is to monitor your targets on both a team-wide and an individual basis. By continually tracking your actuals in real-time, you’ll be able to achieve a more visualized outlook of your team’s entire performance, understanding where that conversion rate sits and how you can be flexible with your set goals. But, of course, it’s always a lot easier to lower the target than it is to raise the target for a rep, so you’ll need the numbers to back this decision and to also show the team what has been achieved previously.

6. Setting Ramp Targets

Any sales leader will understand the ramping hurdles that come with scaling a team and setting targets for new SDRs. Often, the main challenge is understanding how to find a balance between ambition and optimism. You may have all the data to suggest 15 appointments a month is achievable, but how can you be sure that your new SDR will comfortably meet this benchmark?

Set SDRs a lower ramp target – A fresh-faced SDR (especially if you have hired well) will be eager to perform and want to impress. Set their targets too low, and below that of the rest of the team, and watch them massively overachieve. Suddenly their compensation is higher than anticipated despite the fact they may be hitting the same levels as everyone else. Not to mention this is a tough psychological process. As when you set their targets at 10, 12, and eventually 15 appointments they will always be chasing their tail.

Be Understanding & Flexible – The InsideOut theory is simple. Be human and be understanding. If the team target is 15, a new rep starts with the target of 15. Then, you’ll have the freedom to make a concession on their compensation to offset the fact that they’re ramping. It’s a far more evergreen and sustainable model. One that rewards new SDRs for overachieving and maintains business sustainability at the same time.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re dedicated to long-term sales success, you need to be ambitious with your targets. By attaining your historical data, you can form achievable goals that are rooted in actionable metrics and KPIs – rather than just blind guesswork.

Targets shouldn’t alienate, they should inspire. Failing to hit unachievable targets fosters team fear, saps motivation, and weakens team performance.

The bottom line is: what is measured improves. If you want something to improve, go measure that. If you’re looking to improve conversion, measure conversion. If you’re looking to increase the number of activities, make sure you’re measuring activities.

Ready to improve your targets? At InsideOut, we combine our experience with rich, actionable data to help our clients continually hit higher targets and increase conversion rates.

Our teams can provide you with highly succinct benchmarking data so that you can hold your internal teams to account at the same levels which the InsideOut team perform.

We test theories, certify they work, and then deliver cadences authored to resonate strongly with your prospects, increasing conversions and top-line targets from the get-go.

Stephen is InsideOut’s Director of Business Intelligence, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to our inside sales lab. It’s Stephen’s role to deliver smart, more impactful insights and performance metrics to our clients and management, driven by a belief that ideas + work = insights.

Stephen Howell

Stephen is InsideOut’s Director of Business Intelligence, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to our inside sales lab. It’s Stephen’s role to deliver smart, more impactful insights and performance metrics to our clients and management, driven by a belief that ideas + work = insights.

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Stephen is InsideOut’s Director of Business Intelligence, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to our inside sales lab. It’s Stephen’s role to deliver smart, more impactful insights and performance metrics to our clients and management, driven by a belief that ideas + work = insights.