How do I know if my sales goals are realistic?

How do I know if my sales goals are realistic?
We all know that setting goals is one of the most important aspects of any plan. After all, if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, how can you plan a strategic route to get yourself there?

Creating a plan without clear goals is like setting sail without a destination. You can keep moving in a general direction, but without a clear destination in mind, it's unlikely you’re going to end up where you were hoping. 

Goals are important because they give you a point to aim for. They mean that you can…
  • See when things aren't going to plan so you can course correct.
  • Adequately prepare for the trip (make sure you’ve got enough food, supplies, etc. in the case of a sailing voyage). 
  • And most importantly, it means that you can spot issues earlier, saving you time and money in the long run.
But, the trouble with setting goals is that, when there’s a huge expanse of water between you and your destination, it can be difficult to tell whether your goal is achievable with the current resources and skills you have. And it’s especially difficult if you don’t have much experience to draw on.

So, once you’ve set your sales goals for this quarter (or however long you're planning for), is there a way you can test how realistic and achievable they are? 

Here are a few useful indicators… 

Market potential 

When assessing your goals, the first thing you want to do is to make sure they are realistic within your existing market. For example, if you need to sell 10,000 products or services this quarter in order to break even, but you're working in a very small market, it may be unlikely you’ll hit those goals. 

So, what is your market potential? And, with this in mind, is your goal achievable?

Your buyer journey

How do your customers go from never having heard of you before to being loyal raving fans of what you do?  

When you’re setting goals it's good to have your buyer journey mapped out in front of you. This will mean that you can see how many different stages your customers have to pass through on their path to purchase. The more steps there are, the longer your customers are likely to take before they buy from you, and the more marketing they will need to support them in their decision making process. 

When assessing how realistic your goals are, you need to ask yourself 3 questions… 
  • How long is my buyer journey? 
  • Is my product or service a considered purchase or more of an impulse buy? 
  • Taking this into account, are my goals time based and realistic?

Buyer journey timespan

Once you’ve mapped out your buyer journey, you should then have more of an idea about your buyer journey timespan. This is the timeline from when someone first comes across your business to when they buy from you for the first time.

For my business (and a lot of the businesses I work with) it can sometimes take customers a year or more before the time is right and they’re ready to get started. There will always be those people who skip stages or who are ready to buy into you after their first conversation - but this isn't guaranteed. By understanding how long, on average, existing and previous customers have taken to buy in, you’ll be able to take a more educated guess about how long any future customers will take. 

This is particularly important when assessing how realistic your goals are. Let's say you want to generate 10 new customers in the next 3 months. If your customers take on average 6 months to buy from you, it's unlikely you’ll be able to generate 10 new customers in this timeframe that aren’t referrals - especially if you’ve not been doing any marketing recently.

Conversion rates 

Knowing your conversion rates is one of the most useful metrics you can measure in your marketing. It’s the percentage of people who move from one stage of your buyer journey to the next. For example, the number of people clicked on a button divided by the number of people who saw the button multiplied by 100 will give you your conversion rate as a percentage.

This is really useful to understand because if your goal is to make 10 sales per month and you have a 50% conversion rate from enquiries to sale, you can set a goal of 20 enquiries. If you also have a conversion rate of 20% from website hits to enquiries, you can set a goal of 100 website hits.

Map your conversion rates backwards through your buyer journey to check if your goals are achievable. From this, you can better assess whether your goals are realistic given your current resources and availability.

What we've learned...

When you’re setting yourself sales goals within your business, it can be easy to get tunnel vision. All of these indicators should help you to step out of your business for a moment to assess how realistic and achievable your goals are to avoid that feeling that your progress is slowing down. Sometimes this can be difficult to do yourself though, so, if you'd like any help with this, get in touch.

Ros Conkie


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