4 Steps to Achieving Sales Goals by Setting Subgoals

22 Nov 23

Learn the distinction between results and behaviors for achieving sales goals and use our proven 4-step framework to manage performance.

Success in sales demands more than a distant target. It requires a clear roadmap and smaller victories along the way, or, in other words, subgoals. Let’s explore what subgoals are, their role in achieving your sales targets more effectively, and how a 4-step framework can help you manage your team’s performance.

What Are Subgoals in Sales?

Subgoals are the building blocks of your larger sales objectives. They are the manageable, measurable milestones that help you track your progress, stay motivated, and make necessary adjustments as you work toward your goals.

However, subgoals aren't just about breaking things down into smaller steps. They are about taking a proactive approach to your sales targets that helps you plan effectively, execute your strategies, and adapt to the ever-changing sales landscape.

How Subgoals Help Achieve Sales Targets

Reaching your sales targets can often feel like aiming at a moving target. However, it all changes when subgoals are implemented. Here are 4 reasons subgoals play a pivotal role in helping sales teams effectively achieve their targets.

  1. Providing Direction and Focus: Setting subgoals allows your sales team to gain clarity and focus on what needs to be achieved in the short term, reducing overwhelm and increasing productivity.
  2. Tracking Progress and Celebrating Wins: Subgoals offer a straightforward way to measure how far you have come and how much closer you are to your goal, keeping your team motivated and providing opportunities to celebrate along the way.
  3. Adaptation to Changing Circumstances: Subgoals allow your team to pivot and adjust strategies. If market conditions change or new opportunities arise, you can modify your subgoals without losing sight of the larger objective.
  4. Enhancing Accountability and Ownership: Assigning specific subgoals to individual team members fosters a sense of ownership and accountability. Each team member knows their role in achieving the broader sales target, which leads to increased commitment and a shared sense of responsibility.

What Should Be Your Subgoals for Achieving Sales Goals?

When achieving sales goals through subgoals, the devil is in the details. Let's explore what your subgoals should look like and how they can be tailored to ensure your sales team's success.

1. Prospecting and Lead Generation

Sales success starts with prospecting and lead generation. Develop strategies for building a robust pipeline through a multi-prong outreach strategy (e.g., calls, email, LinkedIn, networking events…).

Your subgoal here could be to reach a specific number of qualified leads within a defined timeframe.

2. Sales Qualification

Once leads are in the pipeline, you need to qualify them effectively. Ensure that your sales team can identify prospects who are genuinely interested and have the potential to convert into customers.

Subgoals might include setting up a system for lead scoring or conducting successful qualification calls to move leads closer to the sale.

3. Sales Presentations and Proposals

The next step is delivering compelling sales presentations and proposals. This might entail enhancing your team's ability to showcase your product's value, tailor solutions to specific client needs, and create persuasive proposals.

Subgoals could include developing higher-value messaging and better aligning proposals to customer business needs.

4. Closing and Post-Sale Support

While there is great satisfaction in closing a sale, this is just a starting point for a new customer relationship. Consider setting subgoals related to post-sale support and customer satisfaction. Aim to create loyal customers who not only make repeat purchases but also become great references and referral sources.

Subgoals may involve streamlining the closing process, optimizing customer onboarding, and measuring customer success.

5. Continuous Learning and Improvement

Lastly, don't forget to include subgoals related to continuous learning and improvement. Sales is an ever-evolving field, and ongoing training and development are essential.

Subgoals could involve attending regular training sessions, staying updated on industry trends, or honing specific skills such as negotiation or objection handling.

4 Steps to Achieve Sales Goals with Subgoals

We outline a 4-step framework in The High-Impact Sales Manager where managers begin by communicating expectations. The steps outlined include:

  1. Communicate Your Expectations: Start by clearly stating your desired outcomes and the expected activity levels that support those outcomes.
  2. Monitor Results: Keep a close eye on your results (trailing indicators) because they provide valuable insights on what went well and where there is room for improvement.
  3. Monitor and Improve Behaviors: Observe and assess specific behaviors (leading indicators) that align with your goals.
  4. Provide Regular Feedback: Don't wait until the end of the quarter. Engage in weekly one-on-ones to review results and behaviors, offering timely positive feedback and course correction as needed.


The journey to success in sales is not just about aiming at a distant target. It is about having a well-defined roadmap and celebrating minor victories.

Subgoals are the manageable, measurable milestones that keep your sales organization on track, motivated, and adaptable in changing circumstances. They provide direction, helping you break down large sales targets into achievable milestones that are easier to communicate, track, and celebrate in the near term.

From prospecting and lead generation to post-sale support and continuous learning, each subgoal is a crucial piece of the puzzle, contributing to your sales team's overall success. Remember, it is not just about results but reinforcing the behaviors that lead to those results.

Incorporating a 4-step framework, which involves communicating expectations, monitoring results, assessing behaviors, and providing regular feedback, will provide increased focus on the subgoals needed to achieve your longer term and annual sales goals.


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