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7 Ways to Make Your SMART Goals Smarter (and More Effective) Than Ever

Few sales principles have reached the near-universal adoption of SMART goals. Almost everyone understands the wisdom of establishing and pursuing goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. But do these performance-driven characteristics go far enough? If your goals are merely SMART, it’s possible you are leaving competitive advantages on the table. Let’s take things up a notch. Here are seven ways to make your SMART goals even SMARTER.

Specific and Simple

SMART goals are specific, and that’s important. There must be absolute clarity when asking a sales rep to meet quotas and objectives. SMARTER goals go a step beyond to also keep things Simple. While specific goals can be measured, simple goals can be fully understood and bought into. When setting sales goals and sales performance criteria, take extra time to simplify how the goals are stated. Any confusion will inevitably lead to poor performance and sluggish sales, so aim for unmistakable clarity. In other words, keep it simple, smarty!

Measurable and Motivating

Sales goals should be measurable. After all, if you can’t measure results, you can’t really know when you’ve hit your targets. But goals that are specific and measurable can sometimes also seem daunting and not worth the effort. That is, unless you take extra care to also craft them to be Motivating. How? Well, you’ll first want to understand what energizes and encourages your sales team. That will take some engagement, insight, and communication. Once you know what motivates your sales reps (money, perks, trips, incentives, recognition, etc.) you can craft your goals to reference these elements. This might require going beyond simply stated goals to also including tangible sales rep benefits.

Attainable and Affordable

Nearly all goals can be reached. With concentrated effort, the right team, and the right supporting resources, even the loftiest sales goals are within reach. But at what cost? If attaining goals – through exorbitant spending on talent and resources – blows the budget, where is the real bottom-line benefit? So, when setting SMARTER sales goals, make sure you consider the cost/benefit ratio and make them Affordable. If the cost of achieving certain sales goals is too high, rethink those goals.

Realistic and Rewarding

Realistic goals are related to specific and attainable goal setting. Likewise, Rewarding goals are related to motivational goals. To make your goals rewarding, go beyond motivation to consider the element of the reward. Answer this: What’s in it for the sales rep to achieve each sales goal? While each objective doesn’t necessarily need to have a specific line-item reward, it can be worthwhile to at least let sales reps know how much each goal factors into bigger-picture personal benefits. For example, perhaps growing the pipeline a defined amount is worth 20% of meeting performance objectives. Perhaps advancing a certain number of mid-pipeline prospects to bottom-of-the-funnel status is worth another 15%, and so on. By associating goal attainment with the reward, you draw a clearer line between performance and outcome.

Timely and Targetable

SMART goals are timely or time bound. In other words, they associate expectations with specific timelines and deadlines. But SMARTER goals also apply this specificity to Targetable action – to where sales effort can be directed to achieve desired results. While aligning expectations with targets may be more focused and specific within sales strategies and sales processes, you can also make note of targets in your stated goals. Targeted prospect or customer segments can be noted by territory, market, or by product or service line (or as a combination of these elements). Regardless of the segment specifics, by referencing targets in your goal setting, you can enhance clarity and reduce the likelihood of misdirected effort.

And Now for that Extra E and R…

To go beyond SMART Goals, you still need just a little something more, right? You need that extra E and that extra R…

SMARTER goals should also be Empowering. This goes beyond motivating, to encouraging sales reps to take measured risks. This can be tricky, because sales reps must understand that with the empowerment of risk-taking authority comes additional accountability and scrutiny regarding ethical standards. In other words, you can – by how you strategically set and state your goals – give sales reps the authority and freedom to attain those goals as long as they act responsibly.

And finally, SMARTER goals should be Responsive. This simply means that your goals should be adaptable to factors beyond the sales rep’s control. While this could be as simple as having the flexibility to eliminate certain goals if warranted, it can and should also mean that contingencies are built in when goals are set. SMARTER goals can pivot in response to market conditions. For instance, setting better sales goals that are responsive might have made sales rep objectives easier to modify during the economic crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. While not every market complication can be foreseen, sales goal responsiveness to those complications can be built in.

The Bottom Line:

SMART goals provide an excellent foundation for achieving sales success. But SMARTER goals will take sales performance up a notch. To learn more about how to build SMARTER goals that can optimize sales performance in your organization, click here to schedule a free consultation with one of our Sales Leadership Consultants.

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