• Tom Stearns

How to Motivate Your Sales Reps Through Clear Targets and Good Reporting

image: Clear Targets

This article provides more detail to my article on How to Create a Winning Sales Culture. This is number 5 of the 17 ideas. I’ve also recorded a video on this topic.

Sales is hard. It can be a real grind. A question I often get is, “how do I continually motivate my team?” It’s a great question. Good sales managers care about their team and do their best to keep them upbeat emotionally.

Motivating reps day in and day out can be pretty draining on managers. Many opt for cheerleading, contests, and free pizza.

These are all good — keep the pizza coming, but there’s also a hands-off way to motivate the team; something that doesn’t require a lot of energy once some fundamental work is done. That is giving your reps clear targets and good reporting.

Clear targets

Don’t over complicate targets. When reps understand targets they'll pursue them with more diligence. Confuse them and they’ll lose focus.

So what is a clear target? Here's an example:

A typical SDR target is to get 20 meetings booked or completed a month. Perhaps a percentage of the meetings should be strong enough to qualify to become opportunities. Say 20%. That’d be four qualified opportunities resulting from meetings set. That’s also a clear target. We’re off to a good start.

Once we have a clear target, we can leave reps on their own to get there, or we can help ensure success by also making it clear what needs to happen to get there — in an equally clear and measurable way.

How does a rep understand how to get there? If you show them it’s more than just trying hard, it’ll be much more motivating.

Trying in sales should be two things: activity and craft.

  • Activities are things like researching, calling, emailing, and social engagement.

  • Craft is the ability to turn those activities into a result. For example,

  • do my skills on the phone turn a conversation into a meeting?

  • do my skills writing emails result in responses?

Now show them mathematically that activity coupled with craft leads to the outcome — and they want to focus on being good at both.

For example, a rep that is very active (say 100 activities a day) but doesn’t convert many to an outcome (reply, call-back, conversation, meeting) isn’t going to succeed. Conversely, a rep that converts activities to outcomes, but does so few activities that statistically the outcome is too small to make the target, isn’t succeeding either.

The marriage of a reasonable amount of activities and the craft to convert them is where success happens.

But reps need to see this data — including the conversion ratios — so they can calculate how they’ll hit their target. And that is motivating!

Here’s where the good reporting comes in.

To give your reps the best chances to succeed, you need to show them the activity data, the conversion ratios, and how that directly relates to the desired outcome.

If you have an established team and you’ve used Salesforce with some level of discipline, you should have these numbers already (most of my clients do).

Model this out and show them:

  • How many activities does it take the average rep to get to a conversation?

  • A call-to-conversation ratio is clear but with email a little more difficult (a conversation in email is typically considered two round trips: customer replied; rep replied; customer replied again).

  • How many conversations does it take to get a meeting?

  • What percentage of meetings become opportunities?

Again, this data should be in Salesforce. Salesforce reports, however, don’t show these relationships or conversion ratios easily. You’ll need to work with your operations team to build these reports. 3rd party software can report on this, too.

If you don’t have either of those, you can export the data and calculate yourself. (If you’re not sure how, call me and I’ll show you.) You can also pull industry data to see how your team ranks against the others.

(This same concept goes for closers, too. Sure revenue may be the clear target but revenue is an outcome. The activities, progression through opportunity stages, and conversion ratios are where the knowledge is. Show them. This is more complex than with an SDR team but not that much and there are great tools like TopOPPS that make this easier.)

Now walk your reps through the data so they understand it.

Most companies typically set activity goals along with outcome goals but don’t show the direct relationship between the two. Understanding this data themselves will motivate reps so you don’t have to (as much). And the smart reps will be hungry to see it.

Share it with them so they can study it, monitor it, and improve. Don’t hide your numbers. Easy access to data helps reps learn about themselves and where they need to improve.

Not all companies like to publish numbers openly and it’s not always appropriate to do so but an additional level of motivation occurs when you do.

Reports shared with the team and — even better — shared on screens posted around the office creates transparency and competition. And makes reps accountable to each other.

Hide those numbers and the reps assume that Bill is just a great sales guy. Publish his activities and conversion ratios and the other reps will see what it takes to be Bill. If Bill’s conversion ratios are higher than everyone else and they’re broadcast for others to see, the others will ask Bill what he’s doing so they can do it, too. All waters rise.


Motivating a team every day is tough for any organization. Let meaningful numbers do some of the heavy lifting for you.

Don’t tell your reps to be active, show them the value of being active and that their craft matters just as much. But one without the other won’t get them to their goals. And if the goals are easy to grasp you’ll have a team focused and motivated.

Oh, and keep the contests and free pizza coming, too. They never hurt the cause.


If you liked this article, you may like How to Create a Winning Sales Culture. This is number 5 of the 17 ideas. I’ve also recorded a video on this topic.

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