The sales team is the engine of a business. It brings in revenue and is often the primary link between a company and its customers. It is also one of the main teams responsible for the growth of a company. That is why it is so critical that a sales team is setting great sales goals and measuring the right metrics.

The Objectives and Key Results (OKR) goal-setting system can take good sales teams and make them great. OKRs galvanize whole departments to work toward the same priorities, while still leaving room for individual creativity. A team collectively agrees on the 2-3 Objectives they want to achieve. And individual employees decide how they will work to achieve their goals by assigning each Objective a set of 3-5 Key Results. Strategically-crafted OKRs can establish a highly-productive and happy sales team.

An effective sales team assists new and existing customers to identify their needs and wants, making it as easy as possible for them to buy a product or service that fulfills those needs. This is accomplished through a tight sales pipeline and a strong and supportive sales culture.

According to a Harvard Business Review survey of over 700 sales managers and salespeople, 50 percent of high-performing sales organizations report having a closely monitored and enforced sales process. They are also not afraid to push themselves by aggressively raising their yearly sales targets. OKRs provide sales teams with structure and a way to stretch their goals at the same time.

When considering sales Objectives, there should be a good mix of both input and output goals. Input goals include tasks and activities that a sales department has control over — like the number of cold calls they make, documenting their sales process, or implementing a new customer relationship management system. Ultimately, input goals need to translate into output results — the actual number of sales closed and revenue generated.

Many sales teams drive the growth of output results through bonuses that are tied 100% to quotas. However, we advise against this. Tying sales targets directly to compensation can lead to goal sandbagging or, in some cases, employees feeling pressured to game the system. Salespeople should be intrinsically motivated by their work and not solely by monetary rewards. For sales teams, you want to craft OKRs that extend beyond quotas, so it is easier for employees to push themselves and set higher goals.

As the sales environment continues to change year after year, OKRs are a helpful instrument for trying out a hypothesis or tracking to see if new tools are truly useful. You can draft OKRs that help track a new strategy for targeting the growing number of Gen Z consumers. They can be used to build an omnichannel experience, where potential customers can easily make purchases on a variety of platforms, including social media. Or they can be used to measure whether a new AI-based CRM is helping your team close more sales. OKRs provide a simple framework that can be tailored to your sales department’s needs.

Sales OKRs examples

Here are some OKR examples that the sales department of an accounting software company may use:

Become the leading accounting software seller in the region.
Make up 55 percent of accounting software sales in the region. (Output)
Follow up with customers one month after closing the sale. (Input)
Increase customer retention by 40 percent over the last quarter. (Output)
Generate 200 leads a month. (Input)
Reach a 25 percent conversion rate on all leads. (Output)

Where can I get more information?

Sales is more than just a numbers game. It is also about building and maintaining relationships with your customers, even when their needs change. There are always steps you can take to improve your sales department to make them more productive, efficient, and adaptable to changes in any industry. The OKR system provides a framework to keep your sales team working at its best. Whether you use top-down OKRs to align your team or need to spark innovation with bottom-up OKRs, there is always a way to get more from your team with the right Objectives and Key Results.

Transform your good sales team into a truly great one with OKRs. Learn more about OKRs by checking out our FAQs, Stories, and Resources, or signing up for our Audacious newsletter.

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