CEO Joseph Flanagan talking to client

5 Smart Steps for Setting and Achieving Sales Goals

You need sales goals. Without them, you don’t have anything to shoot for.

Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, once said, “Any road will get you there, if you don’t know where you are going.” Said another less poetic way, you’ll get to where you want to go only if you plan ahead.

Essentially, goal setting is the process of establishing an outcome that you intend to reach in a specific amount of time. If it is a worthy goal, it will be difficult to reach. And that’s good because a Harvard University study found that setting specific goals increases motivation beyond simply telling yourself, “I’ll just do my best.”

Once you have a goal, in terms of a sales quota, you know where you need to go. But, how do you get from zero to accomplishing that goal? Here are 5 smart steps that will help.

1. Aim Higher Than Your Quota

You have been given a quota. But, that’s not good enough. To maximize your motivation, and your income, you need to aim higher than your quota. It’s called a stretch goal. Instead of preparing yourself to reach your sales quota, aim a bit higher. Quite a bit higher. This is the time to blow past your comfort level.

Let’s say that your official quota is $1,000,000 over 12 months. Consider setting your personal goal at 125 percent of your quota. That’s $1,250,000. This does two things for you. If you miss that goal, you will more than likely hit your quota. If you reach that goal, you’ll be a star within your organization.

2. Reverse Engineer Your Sales Goal

Now it’s time to reverse engineer your goal. This means starting with the end in mind and working your way backwards. The objective is to figure out what you need to accomplish to achieve your goal. Then you can build your plan.

If the stretch goal you have set for yourself is $1,250,000 for 12 months, then you have to break that goal down several ways. First, figure out how much your average sale is? If your average sale is $50,000, then you must make 25 sales during a 12-month period. Then break that down into roughly 2 sales per month. Depending on what you are selling, this could be a daunting task.

But you still aren’t done. You will likely not make 2 sales every month. Some months you may make no sales. Other months you might make 3 or more sales. Additionally, you must factor in variables such as the sales cycle for what you are selling, seasonality, and the time to close. These factors, and others, help determine what each of your monthly goals should actually be.

To take this even further, figure out what your weekly and daily activities need to be in order to reach your monthly goal. Now you have a solid plan.

3. Break Down Your Sales Goal into Bite-Sized Chunks

Sales goals can seem insurmountable if looked at as one huge chunk. It helps to break that chunk down into bite-sized pieces. Once the larger goal is broken down, perhaps into monthly chunks, you’ll have a series of smaller goals. What you’ll find is that smaller goals are easier to accomplish. And, small wins add up to big wins.

4. Write Down Your Sales Goals

You have set your sales goal for 12 months, broken that goal down into smaller goals, and figured out how to achieve them. Still, you aren’t finished with the complete process of achieving your goals. You need to make your goals as concrete and effective as they can be. This means writing down your goals.

Gail Matthews of Dominican University performed a study that showed that those who wrote down their goals, and shared their goals, accomplished significantly more than those who didn’t. The study ultimately found that participants who stuck to a goal-oriented, written plan performed 30 percent better than those who didn’t.

You’ve done a lot of planning to get to this point. Don’t throw all of that work away by ignoring it. Get a sheet of paper and write down all of the goals you have planned. Then use Post-It notes stuck to your computer to remind you of the smaller goals that you need to accomplish to get to your larger goal. Or, you could even stick those goals to your bathroom mirror so that you see them every morning. Use whatever method that works for you.

5. Review Your Activity

Planning for your goals is just the beginning. Once you start implementing your plan, it is crucial that you review and monitor the activity that contributes to the achievement of your goals. That’s because reviewing your activity will keep you on task. By regularly reviewing your activity, you’ll have a better idea of how close you are to achieving your sales goals.

Plan to Win

This is just a quick overview of a few best practices when it comes to setting and achieving your sales goals. To dive deeper into this topic, and become the best sales person you can be, visit

If you don’t plan to win, and follow that plan, you should expect to lose.