How to Effectively Set Clear Sales Team Expectations

1 Apr 24

Learn how to effectively communicate clear sales team expectations to ensure that your team understands what you want them to do and achieve.

Establishing clear and consistent expectations is the bedrock of a successful sales team. They provide direction, foster accountability, and ultimately drive results. However, while setting expectations is widely recognized, many sales managers fall into the trap of hyper-focusing on outcomes without addressing the underlying behaviors that contribute to success. Let’s dive into the 4 steps that will equip sales managers with a framework to set clear team expectations.


1. Communicate Expectations

Sales managers often confuse what they think they have communicated with what their sales reps have taken away from their discussion. This is because managers often use vague language or poorly drafted e-mails that are not specific enough to be understood and internalized by the recipient.

For example, a manager may send an e-mail saying: "We are tracking behind this quarter and need to take our game to the next level.” Unfortunately, this statement is pretty close to meaningless. At most, a sales rep will understand that results are not as good as they need to be and need to work harder. While this may be true, it lacks clarity and purpose. Additionally, it doesn’t address the specific behaviors expected from each sales rep.

At the heart of setting expectations lies open, transparent communication. This involves clearly defining the desired outcomes, outlining the specific behaviors that will lead to those outcomes, and establishing measurable targets. Use the guidelines below to clearly communicate expectations with your sales team.

Communication Guidelines for Setting Clear Expectations

Managers should make sure that they set expectations by adhering to the following communication guidelines:

  • Tailor Expectations to Individuals: Personalize expectations to each salesperson's strengths, goals, and performance.
  • Define Clear and Measurable Outcomes: Articulate the specific results you expect from each salesperson. Ensure they understand the tangible objectives and how their performance will be measured.
  • Outline Key Success Behaviors: Define the actions and behaviors contributing to achieving the desired outcomes. These behaviors should be actionable and measurable.
  • Establish Consistent Assessment Metrics: Establish clear performance metrics and timeframes for evaluating progress. Ensure salespeople understand how their performance will be assessed over a defined period.
  • Enhance Understanding with Recaps and Dialogue: Have each salesperson summarize their understanding of the expectations. This reinforces comprehension and allows for clarification. Encourage open communication and feedback to refine expectations.
  • Document Expectations for Transparency and Accountability: Send each salesperson a written recap of the expectations and discussions. This provides a record of expectations and promotes accountability.

For example, a sales manager can help their reps achieve quota using the following type of personalized communication:

To achieve your quarterly sales goal of $500,000, you must close an additional $267,000 by the end of the quarter (December 31). To accomplish this goal, I would like you to conduct in-person meetings with at least five of the seven customers in your sales pipeline's “agreement” stage by next Friday (December 12).

Given your history of success with customers (70% close rate of opportunities in the agreement stage), this should allow you to exceed your goal if you can get these meetings set quickly. Please let me know if this makes sense and what steps you will take following this discussion.

[Pause, listen to the response, and check for understanding]

Great. Let’s plan on reconnecting the following Monday (December 8) to review where you stand on appointments, discuss the specific goals for each meeting, and how I can help.

The communication process should be ongoing, not a one-time event. Sales managers should regularly review expectations with their team members, ensuring everyone is aligned and understands their role in achieving the shared objectives.

2. Monitor and Manage Specific Behaviors

Beyond defining outcomes, managers must also focus on the specific behaviors that drive results. This involves identifying the key actions that contribute to successful sales, such as prospecting, qualifying leads, building relationships, and closing deals. By tracking and monitoring these behaviors, managers can identify areas for improvement and provide targeted coaching to their team members.

To monitor sales team behaviors, you can:

  • Track outbound prospecting activity (calls, email, social…) by each sales representative.
  • Monitor the time spent on lead qualification activities.
  • Analyze the frequency of customer follow-ups.

3. Track Results

While behaviors are the key drivers of success, results are the ultimate performance measure. To assess the team's effectiveness, sales managers should regularly track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales volume, revenue, and customer satisfaction. This data provides valuable insights into areas that need improvement and helps managers identify strategies for continued growth.

Consider the following strategies to track your sale steam’s results:

  • Track the number of new customers acquired and the total revenue generated.
  • Monitor the average deal size and customer lifetime value.
  • Analyze customer satisfaction ratings and repeat business rates.

4. Provide Regular Feedback

By providing regular feedback, sales managers can identify and address performance gaps, reinforce positive behaviors, and help team members reach their full potential. Feedback should be specific, actionable, and timely, focusing on results and behaviors.


Establishing clear and consistent expectations is crucial for driving sales team success. By following these four steps, sales managers can effectively communicate expectations, monitor behaviors, track results, and provide regular feedback – all of which contribute to achieving shared goals.

download sales coaching white paper


We are committed to helping more companies strive towards unforgettable growth by publishing insightful content regularly. Here are more blog posts we think you might be interested in.