Useful Tips from 20 Sales Pros to Help You Set Winning Sales Goals Using OKRs

Author's avatar Sales Nov 27, 2020 12 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    Is your sales team setting the right goals and tracking them? 

    For an organization to grow efficiently and successfully, it needs to set great goals and continuously measure them. 

    However, goal setting is a lot easier said than done. It needs a proper strategy and a solid process in place to yield successful results. 

    And that’s where OKRs come in.

    In this article, we’re going to discuss: 

    What is an OKR?

    OKR stands for ‘Objectives’ and ‘Key Results’. OKR is a goal-setting method used by big companies like Google and other organizations to help sales teams streamline their processes and deliver outcome-based success. 

    When OKRs are implemented, sales teams need to answer two questions:

    • Objective: Where do I want to go? 
    • Key Result: How will I know if I’m getting there?

    So while your objectives need to be time-bound (so you can track their progress) and actionable, your key results need to be measurable and quantifiable.

    Here are some great OKRs examples by Weekdone.

    examples of OKRs

    Now, you may be wondering who should use OKRs? Managers and directors? Or executive leadership? Well, the answer is, to our surprise, everyone. This response definitely emphasizes the importance of setting OKRs for your company to hit your business (and sales) goals.

    who uses OKRs at their company?

    So if you still haven’t set OKRs, it’s time to do so now.

    Related: KPIs & OKRs: How to Leverage Both to Improve Your Performance

    How Do You Set OKRs?

    Goal-setting can help improve employee engagement in a way that elevates performance and benefits organizations overall, according to McKinsey. We saw similar results in our recent survey, too. 

    When we asked professionals if setting OKRs correlate with their teams hitting sales goals, 91.3% of respondents said yes!

    does setting OKRs correlate with your team hitting its sales goals?

    So how do you set OKRs?

    By following these 4 basic steps. You can add more steps as you go along. 

    Step 1 – Define your objectives. 

    What time-bound and actionable goals are you looking to achieve? 

    Do you want to $100k in Monthly Recurring Revenue? Reduce churn rate by 25%? Get 1000 new subscribers in June? Increase lead conversion rate from 10% to 20%?

    Step 2 – Choose key results for each objective.

    How will you fulfill those goals\objectives? What actions will you take to reach those objectives?

    Choose 3 to 5 measurable key results for each of your objectives. 

    Objects and Key Results

    Step 3 – Communicate the objectives to your sales team.

    Next, keep your team in the loop and discuss the objectives and key results with them. Encourage team members to take ownership of these goals for better success. 

    Step 4 – Track your progress.

    This is why goals should be time-bound  – so you can easily track their progress and determine whether you’re meeting your OKRs or not. 

    So constantly monitor your progress using a sales dashboard.

    Related: How to Use OKRs to Set, Track, and Hit Your Quarterly Goals

    11 Tips for Setting Winning Sales Goals Using OKRs

    Setting OKRs can seem like a complex process when you’re just starting out. We asked 20 sales pros their best tips for setting great sales goals using OKRs, and here’s what they said.

    1. Keep it simple
    2. But, also specific and measurable
    3. Focus on the target, not the tactic
    4. Don’t rush
    5. Cascade goals
    6. Go for difficult goals
    7. Create small targets
    8. Keep it systemized
    9. Give yourself time to meet goals
    10. Look at the bigger picture
    11. Involve all team members

    Editor’s Note: Use HubSpot Sales Rep Performance Dashboard Template to track your Sales Reps’ actual performance against their personalized goals. Get a holistic view of all activities and tasks carried out by each sales representative to ensure your team members are hitting their goals.

    HubSpot sales rep performance dashboard template

    1. Keep it simple

    “My best tip for setting sales goals using OKRs is to keep it as simple and straightforward as you can.” Advises Ravi Parikh of RoverPass. “Focus on one objective, one measurable metric, and a timeframe in which you know you can accomplish it.”

    Arnold Chapman of ELD Focus agrees and adds, “Focus on your objectives that are achievable and only according to what your company needs the most. Make sure to set goals that you have the time and resources for.”

    Catriona Jasica of Top Vouchers Code explains, “Complex goals can sometimes confuse your team members who will ultimately result in poor sales. The goals should be made measurable by setting up a factor that assesses whether the goal has been achieved or not, e.g., a specific percentage or number of followers.

    ‘What’s your best-performing blog CTA? Please share one example of a high-performing blog post CTA and why you think it works so well.’

    Before I hit “Publish” on my blogs, I make sure that my readers can take the next step to learn more about your company. Although there are many CTAs that help my blogs perform exceptionally well. However, there’s one CTA that I stick by, and it works for me, that is, Connect on Social CTAs. This call-to-action provides links to connect with your company on social media. So, there’s a higher chance that your readers will be interested in future content that you post.”

    Alejandro Rioja of So Influential believes that while OKRs should always be simple, they should also be realistic. “For instance, think about what your business needs on priority; it can be higher CTR, more social media engagements, or conversions. This helps you to set a realistic number that you can achieve at a specified time.” Explains Rioja.

    Related: 23 Foolproof Sales Presentation Tips to Help You Close More Deals

    2. But, also specific and measurable

    While goals should be simple, they should also be specific and measurable. 

    Dan Bailey of WikiLawn aptly says, “Vague goals aren’t going to cut it. Your objectives should be specific, focused, and detailed in the overall plan as well as how you intend to execute it.”

    Jonathan Newar of Captain Experiences shares, “Something I have learned about setting sales goals with OKSs is that they should be simple, measurable, and specific. Without these guidelines, it is easy to create goals that have numerous objectives, and at the end of the day, you can’t measure your success.”

    “My tip is to carefully think about the key results and make sure those are within your control.” Says Bruce Harpham of SaaS Marketing Services. “For sales, I would think carefully about setting a sales goal like ‘hold 10 sales meetings per month’ because that is not something you can control. Instead, consider focusing on a key result fully within your control, such as prospecting.”

    And when setting sales goals with OKRs, “you don’t just want to set up a number to reach. What you want is to explain clearly the steps, processes, experiments, and tools you’re going to test and apply so you can see what helps you reach those goals.” Explains Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Services

    3. Focus on the target, not the tactic

    “When focusing on tactics, if anything changes (people, budgets, timelines), you’re stuck without a plan halfway through the quarter.” Explains Dani Peterman of Lusha. “Focusing on the target gives stakeholders the flexibility to change strategies and tactics without forgetting the purpose.”

    And how do you set your target exactly? One way to do it is through a sales forecast. Try to predict how much revenue will be in your pipeline this month, and what amount of revenue will your team close this month, and set those as goals. Here’s how you can visualize your sales forecast data from HubSpot CRM with Databox.

    Related: 9 Tried and Tested Ways a Sales Analysis Can Help You Generate More Revenue

    4. Don’t rush

    FishingBooker’s Joris Zantvoort believes the most important thing is to take your time setting OKRs. 

    “Be patient and precise because it will help you set awesome goals that will keep you focused and create real value for the company. In September, the last time my team set OKRs, we needed two 4-hour meetings in two days to set good goals, not including preparation.

    That may seem like a lot of time, but it’s worthwhile because the whole team will be aligned behind meaningful goals that bring value to the company’s bottom line.” Shares Zantvoort.

    And the best way to do that is by starting with the basics. 

    As Melanie Musson of TeenagerCarInsurance rightly says, “Focus just as much on process objectives as final objectives. The final sales goals will be hard to reach if you’re not focusing on the grunt work of the sales process.”

    5. Cascade goals

    Code Galaxy’s James Boatwright says his best tip for setting sales goals with OKRs is to cascade your objectives.

    “For some employees, how they play a part in the overall goal of the company can seem obscure. When you outline the goals from the top of the company to the bottom, they are able to see how what they do plays into the overall function of the company.”

    6. Go for difficult goals

    While the key is to go for simple goals, it doesn’t mean you go for easy goals. Set up difficult targets that you’d have to stretch yourself, and your team will have to give their 100% effort to achieve. 

    Success and growth don’t come with easy goals. 

    BizcaBOOM’s Michael Monyak believes that marketers should never make the goals too easy. 

    “It is said within many companies who use this technique like Google or LinkedIn that your goals shouldn’t be too easy or too hard. I completely disagree with this.

    Try to pick an objective or a goal that seems almost impossible to achieve, not impossible, but a goal that is very hard to achieve. I believe that companies grow exponentially when the objective is almost impossible.

    Our company, BizcaBOOM, has doubled our sales in the past year by simply making our objectives almost impossible.” Explains Monyak.

    7. Create small targets

    “Create small targets from your main goals.” Recommends Robert Applebaum of Applebaum Beverly Hills.

    “Knowing what you have to do to meet your main outcomes makes your goals more precise and easy to achieve. They help you concentrate on aligning the action plan with the main outcomes for the targets.

    Small targets also assist you in setting goals in your development. To achieve the main outcomes, they keep you right on track in terms of understanding what you have to do. Those small targets that you do may be the objects of action that are the most important for your OKRs. 

    For instance, for this quarter, your target is to increase your sales revenues by 5 percent, and one of your main goals is to get 5 new customers. Think about how you’re going to attract new customers. Inbound marketing can be one of your mini-goals like writing a blog post a week.”

    8. Keep it systemized

    LinkBuilder’s Stewart Dunlop’s number one tip is to keep everything systematized. 

    “You and your team can keep track of your OKRs by creating step-by-step guides which include metrics and milestone indicators once a goal is met.” Explains Dunlop. Additionally, this can be done using a sales dashboard software.

    9. Give yourself time to meet goals

    Luke Fitzgerald of RightFitz Consulting says his tried and tested tip to set goals using OKRs is, “Give yourself enough time for the executing team(s) to deliver each of the objectives and supporting milestones in a way that doesn’t detract from their ability to do their ‘regular’ or billed work.”

    Fitzgerald further explains, “To ensure sales goals within the OKR framework are SMART, looking at the ‘T’ (timely) element specifically, I’d suggest a using a form of time tracking software or a project management suite to allocate dedicated ‘non-billable’ blocks to the relevant OKR tasks and add them to your team’s workload like you would with any regular ‘billable’ work items.

    Maintaining a line of sight on the effort going into OKR work is recommended as it makes sense to keep tabs on the business cost associated with OKR-related time/money.

    The biggest cost is likely human capital (time), so that should be tracked and accounted for as part of OKR planning just like any other valuable resource.”

    10. Look at the bigger picture

    Alicia Hunt of Koan believes that while revenue targets will always be the primary OKR for sales teams, typically an annual target split up by quarter in a KR format, “It’s important to look at the bigger picture. Identify other KRs that can support sales, like training, sales enablement materials, and cross-team KRs. This will help sales teams achieve greater success by expanding focus and making time for additional goals and KPIs to support the higher-level objectives.”

    11. Involve all team members

    Stephie Althouse of Top-Notch CEO recommends involving your whole team in setting the OKRs, “so that each team member has ownership and hence buys into achieving the desired results.”

    Soapbox’s Brennan McEachran agrees and adds, “Involving your reps, team leads, and managers in the goal-setting process will open up the floor to new insights, ideas, and opinions. It also encourages your team to take ownership of sales goals. When they’re able to contribute to the goals they’re aiming for, they’ll feel more personally invested in the success of the team.”

    HubSpot CRM – Sales Analytics Overview Template

    Final Thoughts

    As Matt Tucker of Koan aptly concludes, “Take the time to really think through and write a set of goals that manifest your strategy. Are you trying to break into new geographic territories? Win over a new vertical? Your sales goals should make it clear to the whole team how you want to transform the business you have today into the business that keeps you winning in the future.” 

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    Article by
    Maham S. Chappal

    Maham S. Chappal is a content writer for SaaS and marketing brands in B2B. She’s been published in several leading publications including Social Media Examiner. She loves writing in-depth, research-backed content that drives traffic, increases brand awareness, and boosts ROI. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her engrossed in the latest John Grisham novel. You can find her on LinkedIn or on

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