A Sales Coach’s Tactical Guide on Setting the Right Goals for Sales Reps

Part 4 of this sales coaching series focuses on the right coaching goals for sales reps.

Article overview:

1) Sales coaching is not a beat-down.

2) What are sales goals?

3) How to set goals for sales reps.

4) Sales goals for sales reps.

5) Sales Coaching: What salespeople say versus managers/leaders.

6) Don’t mistake a conversation for sales coaching commitment.

7) How to make your 1:1s count.

8) Stay in the inspiration business: Read the full coaching series.

Most Managers Believe Sales Coaching is a Beat-Down

Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend who has had a great sales career. We hadn’t spoken for a couple of years and he was sharing his latest sales gig with me.

I shared how Xvoyant has helped thousands of reps transform and that we did it without ever talking to a salesperson. We provide technology that helps a leader create 1:1s that count.

His response to me was really surprising. He said: “That sounds like exactly the kind of thing I hope my company never buys.”

When I asked him why he told me “Our 1:1s are about getting beaten up with data. When I find a sales position a key consideration for me is how much will they let me do my thing. I don’t want any micromanagement.”

As we discussed the 1:1 impact he found that 1:1s had zero impact. He didn’t find that his leaders helped him improve or discuss things that he might do differently. The conversations were around stack rankings and gaps and not sales performance coaching.

 Read: Coach Your Way to Sales Leadership Success: Best Practices from the Field

What Are Sales Goals?

The sales objectives you have for each sales team in an organization or sales company are sales goals. When setting sales goals, you must focus on a particular key performance indicator (KPI). A good sales goal example is increasing your organization’s customer retention rate by a given percentage, say 13% in the next business year.

To set beneficial sales goals, you need to consider each sales member’s skills and individual salesman objectives. When you give attention to the following key areas, you are in a better position to set goals for sales reps:

  • How to increase sales which bring you more profits
  • Salesman objectives that increase their productivity
  • How to increase cross-sells and upsells
  • Retaining existing clients and sourcing for new ones
  • Time management to increase sales

The advantage of having set sales objectives for sales teams is that you have a road map to achieve your sales goals. Make sure you set the sales objectives with a particular focus in mind to develop actions whose outcomes you can measure. These objectives ensure individual salesman objectives are geared towards realizing overall sales goals.

You have to take short-term steps which are your sales activities to get long-term results which are now your sales goals.

For sales reps’ goals to relate with overall sales goals, you need the right  CRM. From there, assign each sales rep in the sales team activities based on your sales objectives.

Make sure you visualize the goals that salespeople will be targeting. With visualized goals, you have a 20% chance to increase your sales.

The relationship between sales rep goals and overall sales also relates to sales reps assigning themselves sales duties. The duties have smaller goals that they can manage with ease according to the sales activity they are engaged in.

Related: How to Use AI for Sales Coaching: A Sales Manager’s Guide

How To Set Goals For Sales Reps

Setting goals for sales reps require you to use a straightforward principle. Here, you set goals that are specific and can be attained in a given time frame. You should also ensure that the goals are realistic and measurable. Let us look at this principle in an in-depth manner.

When you talk about specific sales goals, you need to have your sales team’s size in mind.

Be clear on what each sales rep will be doing to achieve this specific goal.

For instance, if your sales goal is to bring in 200 new clients in the quarter of a year, have smaller roles for each member.

Goals for sales reps here will be engaging in activities such as prospecting to hook new clients. Be specific on how many new clients each sales rep is required to bring.

For measurable goals, you must develop a method of measuring your sales team’s progress in achieving the set goals. Ask yourself how each sales rep is bringing many new clients. The number of new clients, in this case, is the measurable goal.

A challenging sales goal is more beneficial to a sales company.

If you want better results, you need to go beyond what other people in the market are doing. Easy goals have lower profit margins. Even as you set these challenging goals, make sure that they are attainable depending on your sales reps’ competence.

For example:

If you want to get 200 new clients, do you have enough sales reps to meet this goal within the target time frame?

However, goals for sales reps must be realistic. The sales objectives to help achieve your sales goals must align with your sales team’s skills and size. Do not set sales objectives that your sales team can not achieve. Consider each member’s salesman objectives and direct them in a manner that helps achieve the overall sales goals.

Sales goals examples that are realistic include targeting an achievable number rather than a number that you don’t have enough resources to achieve.

Timely sales goals push sales representatives to work smarter. Set deadlines for when you want the set sales objectives to be complete in anticipation of achieving your sales team’s set goals.

Sales Goals For Sales Reps (With Examples)

Increase your sales revenue

When you set this sales goal, you aim to increase the revenue you get in your current business year over the previous year. It, therefore, becomes an annual sales team goal.

This nature’s sales goals include having a specific revenue percentage increase, such as a 17% increase.

Some sales goals demand careful selection of team members. As you set up a sales team to help achieve this goal, your team must include members of different departments.


For your sales revenue to increase by 17%, pick a member from the sales department, sales development, and marketing departments. You can also consider other departments that are crucial in increasing revenue margins.

Combine the efforts of each team member to improve your lead generation strategies. You can be part of the 88% of salespeople who use content marketing as a lead generation tactic. Make more calls each day and make more improvements in your sales process.

Improve customer lifetime value

When you have a longer customer lifetime value, you will get more revenue from that customer for a longer duration than having a short lifetime value. Sales managers often set goals for sales reps to boost customers’ subscription period.


Set a sales goal to increase customer lifetime value by 13% to 18% year over year. To achieve these set sales goals for sales reps, set sales objectives to up-sell and cross-sell. In up-selling, your sales reps will be encouraging the existing clients to upgrade the deal they are currently getting. As a result, their customer lifetime value will increase.

On the other hand, the cross-selling approach of increasing customer lifetime value involves convincing clients to buy an adjacent product.

Increase win rates

The overall average win rate for sales in all industries is 47%. If you want to increase this win rate for your organization, you have to focus on a sales representative’s success contributors. Utilize their strengths in your organization’s sales process.


You are increasing your organization’s win rate by 26% in one year. To achieve this goal:

  1. Focus on what each sales representative is best at.
  2. Set sales objectives that utilize the individual strengths of each member.
  3. Train them using the tactics in this article to improve their success.

Beating set goals to increase profit margins

When you use the above-discussed principle of setting goals for sales reps, you will achieve them quickly. Your next step will be boasting profits by beating the goals you had set for that month.


Suppose you had set a goal to increase the number of clients, target surpassing that target by 17%. You will need to have extra rewards that you will be giving sales reps who beat their targets.

Boost lead generation

This is a sales goal that is achieved by improving your lead generation tactics. Come up with a sales team with members who have excellent skills in lead generation.


You want to increase the number of lead generating emails sent by 50%. Here, you will need to use artificial intelligence in automatic sales. You can also use other tactics such as offloading non-sale tasks to other salespeople in your company.

Sales Coaching: What Salespeople Say Versus Managers/Leaders

Recent research shows:

74% of salespeople say they receive no coaching at all and only 8% say that the coaching they receive is awesome.

78% of the leaders of these same salespeople claim they are “high-performing” coaches.

Talk about a misunderstanding!

Here’s why the perspective matters. When salespeople say they are receiving great coaching, 86% of the time they hit sales goals.


How do you move past a perspective of being micromanaged and into a place where the 1:1 conversation creates inspiration?

Don’t Mistake A Conversation For Sales Coaching Commitment

A common sales coaching mistake is to confuse conversations for coaching. This is best understood when considering a common mistake many salespeople make.

You’ve met the salesperson that’s great at creating conversations with prospects. Their prospects will take a call, go to an event, schedule a meeting, and say all kinds of positive things about the rep and their offering. They do just about everything except buying from the rep.

All the conversations have led to great internal relationships but have never translated to a profitable professional relationship. They don’t create customers, they create what I call “professional friends.”

This comes when salespeople don’t help their prospects make and keep commitments.

Coaching is very similar.

Too many leaders confuse conversations with coaching. However, if a 1:1 conversation doesn’t include a commitment, the leader isn’t helping the rep intentionally improve.

How to Make Your 1:1s Count

As the emphasis on sales coaching continues to grow, there are many different definitions of what coaching really is. Tools designed to record calls, provide video practice, or manage activities all provide value in different ways.

Most “coaching” tools help prioritize areas to improve or help practice a specific skill, and they do a great job of this.

What these tools don’t do is create and manage commitments to intentionally change.

The 1:1 meeting between the leader and sales rep is something most sales organizations try to do.  Unfortunately, most of the time these meetings fail to drive intentional improvement and more often are simple “check-ins.”

Great reps have learned to stop counting sales calls and start making phone sales calls count.

Great leaders have moved past counting their 1:1s and have learned to make the 1:1 count.

1) Be consistent with your 1:1 schedule

The first reason 1:1s fail is because leaders fail to hold them. If you’re not consistent in holding 1:1s a message of their importance is sent to the team that screams louder than anything else you might say.

The frequency of your 1:1s is dependent on things like:

The frequency of sales activities

In a transactional, high-velocity business, you may find that the reps do so many of the sales activities every day that, weekly 1:1s are valuable. In an enterprise, complex sales environment, those activities may happen less frequently and as a result, you may have 1:1s every 2 weeks or even monthly.

Coaching is about activities. As a result, the more often a rep does key activities, the more often you should be sure to have meaningful coaching 1:1s.

Length of the sales cycle

A key reason to have 1:1s is to ensure short and long-term sales in predictable ways. The shorter the sales cycle, the more frequent your 1:1 cadence needs to be. Longer sales cycles can have more time in between 1:1s.

General sales momentum and trends

There will be times when the trend is not your friend. Positive trends should not result in less frequent 1:1s. However, negative trends can create a need for more frequent 1:1s.

A good rule of thumb is to not have 1:1s more frequently than weekly and no less than monthly.

Consistency is more than just the frequency. Consistency also includes the consistency of agenda.  Salespeople should never be taken by surprise in a 1:1.

Related: Weekly Sales Meetings Suck. Here Are 5 Ways to Improve Them

The agenda, data points, and accountability elements should be well-known. This allows a rep to self-assess and be prepared to have a forward-looking strategic planning session rather than a rear-looking play-by-play of the last couple of weeks.

2) Make your 1:1s about “what’s next?”

At least 90% of a 1:1 should be about the future. At most only 10% of the session should be about the past. Coaching is about commitment to change. If the conversation isn’t about the future, change is unlikely to happen.

There are three forward-looking topics that should be part of each 1:1:

How to win deals in the existing pipeline

sales goals examples

The first item on the “What’s next” part of the 1:1 agenda is to help win deals in the existing sales pipeline.

The first way you can make your 1:1s meaningful to your reps is helping them win more business.  Opportunity-coaching is a fast way to increase win rates and improve sales cycle time.

To do this effectively, your sales process should include more than just sales stages and key sales activities.

You can measure the success of a sales activity if it created a well-defined customer verified outcome.  For example, a prospecting call or email is designed to create a meeting. A demo is designed to lead to a defined next step.

sales goals

Most sales organizations would benefit from adding clarity to the customer verifiers at each stage. The easiest way to help win what’s winnable is to evaluate the evidence (or lack of) specific customer verifiers.

In a recent webinar with Jim Dickie, Jim described the verifier concept as a toll required to move through a toll booth. As you come to a sales stage, the customer pays the toll with their verifier.

Verifiers are physical evidence that the customer has engaged in the sales process in a measurable way.  Understanding these makes it very easy for your 1:1s to have powerful deal reviews.

Achieving pipeline balance

sales objectives

After a review of key deals in the short-term pipeline, smart leaders work to achieve balance in the middle and longer-term pipelines.

As I speak with sales leaders about their pipeline coverage requirements, it isn’t unusual for them to have a spreadsheet showing a required coverage of something like a 3-4x quota to pipeline.

The challenge with this is it’s based on averages rather than being tailored for the rep.

It means it’s right for 1/3 of the reps, too much for 1/3 of the reps, and not enough for a final 1/3 of the reps.

To be valuable in the 1:1, calculate what the individual coverage requirement is. Help them see into the future to see where their pipeline gaps exist.

Understanding performance aspirations

The final piece of the forward-looking conversation is a review of the reps definition of what “winning” is.  In part 3 of this series, we shared a blueprint on how to connect with the rep’s definition of what winning looks like. Use this time to use the approach described to dollarize what the aspirational performance is worth to them.

This creates a powerful opportunity to set goals around increasing opportunities, growing revenue per customer, improving win rate, and driving cycle time.

3) Build your Skill-to-Success Model

In your 1:1s, you’ll come to a point where the rep decides if he or she will change:

  • Will you commit to the activity that creates the verifier?
  • Do you commit to the activity that fills a specific pipeline gap?
  • Are you focused on aspirational performance or developing a skill that allows you to achieve this level?

This is where you set coaching goals.

A coaching goal is a goal where a rep commits to change an activity level or develop a new skill.

Coaching goals are not dependent on a customer saying “yes.” Those are sales goals. The only person that needs to say “yes” to a coaching goal is the rep.

RELATED: Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: 3 Times To Step In (& How)

In order for this to work at scale, an organization must have a clearly defined “Skill-to-Success” model.

Components of the Skill-to-Success Model

Every sales organization must define the skills and activities required to achieve success as a member of the sales team.

The Skill-to-Success model is based on this framework:

  • Outcomes (sales) are driven by sales stages.
  • Sales stages are a unique set of experiences each sales rep needs to engineer.
  • Activities are high-value actions a salesperson conducts in order to help a customer engage at each stage. The success of an activity is determined by the sales skills of the salesperson.
  • Sales skills are required for activities to create predictable success. Skills are developed with each rep through resources a company provides.
  • Resources are what sales enablement teams provide to help reps create the skills and experiences that are required to be successful in the organization they represent.

The better you understand the activities, skills, and resources to move from stage to stage, the more predictable your outcomes become.

This provides a simple way to ensure 100% of coaching goals are relevant for each rep:

  • To move a “must-win” deal to the next stage, set a goal to conduct a specific activity tied to a verifier.
  • When you need to build more pipelines in the quarterly pipe, set a goal around increasing the activities that lead to new opportunities.
  • For better conversion rates to reach an aspirational goal, set a goal around developing the skill tied to the activity.

This format ensures you will never have “rogue goals” where leaders ask reps to do something that doesn’t fuel the skill-to-success model.

Stay in the Inspiration Business: Read the Full Coaching Series

Customers don’t buy from your reps unless there is a clear reason for them to change. The better you dollarize the reason to change the more likely the change happens.

Your reps don’t buy your coaching unless there is a clear reason for them to change. Dollarizing the value of even the smallest change is the easiest way to engineer moments of commitment.

As a leader, you’re selling change.  Intentional improvement requires intentional change.

Don’t beat people up with data and leave them to figure out what they need to do differently in order to win.

Remember: Transformational results require transformational activities. Great leaders inspire transformational activities and their reps willingly give them.

Providing insight and creating moments where they commit to doing something they want will keep you a strategic part of how they do what they joined your team for in the first place: win.

Other Guides in the “How To Approach Sales Coaching Like a Pro” Series

This is part 4 of a 5-part series on sales coaching models. Don’t miss the other guides in the series:

Rob helps develop world-class sales leaders so they can develop world-class sales teams. He loves moving the Sales Needle & is a high-energy dealmaker with an emphasis in technology & financial services sectors. He has worked for & consulted with many organizations & has expertise in sales, sales process, leadership development & the commercialization of new products and services.

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