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Get SMART: How and why to set sales goals for your business

March 8, 2024 | Published by Faire

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A shopkeeper straightens items on a display table inside a cute independent store
A shopkeeper straightens items on a display table inside a cute independent store

Whether you’re a wholesale brand, retail business or both—new or seasoned—it’s essential to set sales goals. Sure, that might not feel like your first priority when you have so much going on, like hiring, training, merchandising, and, well, the myriad other to-dos you have from running your own business. But having sales goals can actually help alleviate the chaos, aligning you and your team on what to prioritize and how to set yourselves up for success both in the short and long term.  

You can think of the process of setting sales goals as a step toward celebrating small wins. Especially for online sales goals, it’s helpful to know your benchmarks and work on specific metrics. Below we’ll give you a full rundown of the different types of sales goals you can create for your business, what to keep in mind as you go about implementing them, and how to get ahead of any roadblocks that might arise. 

What are sales goals? 

Every business’s goals are different because they depend heavily on your niche, your target audience, and even your own expectations. They also depend on whether you’re strictly e-commerce or a brick-and-mortar store: For example, if you have a physical space, you can set goals around multisensory experiences to get shoppers engaged, whereas that’s not a concern for online businesses. Online, you can rely on different metrics, like cart conversion, the success of loyalty programs and email campaigns, and other digital strategies.

Here are just a few examples of goals you might want to use for your business: 

  • Time-based revenue goals (daily, weekly, monthly, annual, or year-over-year)
  • Customer-based goals, like increasing repeat customers or lifetime value or decreasing customer churn or acquisition cost
  • Event-based goals, like sales from Black Friday or a specific promotion
  • Order-based goals, like average order value
  • Channel-based goals, like generated leads
  • Partnership-based goals, like revenue from co-marketing campaigns

Why sales goals are important

You may be wondering why setting specific sales goals is important. If you know what you want to accomplish, why does it matter? Well, if you don’t have a clear set of goals and an action plan to get there, you and your employees won’t know what you’re working toward. This makes it hard to stay motivated and know how to prioritize all those tasks you have on your list. Plus, it’s a way to hold your team (and yourself!) accountable. 

Setting goals also allows you to recognize and celebrate wins—which is important!—and reevaluate your strategies if you fall short. 

KPIs and OKRs: Two tried-and-true methods for framing your goals 

Here are two acronyms you’ll see often when learning about goal-setting: KPIs and OKRs. You’ll find that both are useful tools while planning your sales goals. 

KPIs are key performance indicators—they’re just the cold hard facts, the data that helps you track your progress. An example of a KPI might be: acquire 150 new customers in Q4. 

OKR stands for objectives and key results. While KPIs are attainable, quantitative goals that focus on output, OKRs are more qualitative, ambitious, and oriented around growth. That means that OKRs have more context and can focus more on the direction you’re trying to steer your business on the whole. An OKR might be something like: increase our brand’s presence in independent retail stores by setting up a wholesale account on Faire. 

How do you set reasonable, achievable goals?

Here’s an acronym to help you set the right goals for your business: get SMART. 

Specific: Be specific when you’re setting goals. Instead of just setting a revenue goal, be clear about who is responsible for achieving the goal and what steps need to be taken to get there. This will help you manage expectations and keep your teams aligned. 

Measurable: A goal like “do better next year” is probably something we all say to ourselves. But a better goal is one that can be measured accurately—that way, you know for sure when you’re moving in the right direction. So pick a metric and state how much you want it to grow or decrease. 

Achievable: If it’s your first year in business or you’re fighting against a tricky economy, trying to hit a huge number isn’t going to make things any easier for your team. Make sure your goals are achievable so you don’t end up disappointed at the end of the term. (You can always set stretch goals if you want to dream big.) 

Relevant: You and your team should be clear about why you’re setting these specific goals. And be sure that these goals will actually contribute to the success of your particular business, niche, and audience. 

Time-Bound: You’ll want to know when you’re starting and when you’re finishing the goals. Just like how the goal needs to be achievable, make sure the time frame to get there is reasonable too. 

How to set sales goals for your business

There’s a lot to consider as you set your SMART goals, so here are a few best practices for when you sit down and plan. 

  1. Data! Even if you’ve been in business for only a few weeks, you have data. Use this historical sales data to create projections for the future. You can also refer to marketplace reports and see how competitors are performing in your field. 
  2. Look at consumer and marketing trends that may influence sales, like Black Friday, Prime Day, and the holiday season. These peaks and valleys should be accounted for in your timely projections. 
  3. Write everything down. Make sure all your goals are clearly documented so that every employee is on the same page. Speaking of employees: Solicit their feedback and get their expertise as you put together your goals. For example, it might be useful to chat with your engineers if you’re expecting more site traffic during a big promotion. The more your team is aligned on the goals (and aware of them!), the more they’ll feel like they can contribute to the success of the business.

How Faire brands are getting SMART and achieving their goals 

If you’re curious about the types of goals other Faire brands are setting, here are a few! Let’s start with UK stationery brand The Completist. The owners’ goal was to accelerate growth and expand their national audience. To make sure this goal was Realistic, they moved into a larger studio space. That means they had more room for inventory and could hire more staff, broadening their reach and their potential to scale. 

The owners of paper-goods maker LSW London also moved their business into a larger office space to help accommodate their sales goals. They used historical data to make sure their goal of expanding stockists was Achievable. In 2021, they went from having 30 stockists in the UK to 500 stockists around the world. The following year, their goal was to grow their network to 1,000. 

Accessories brand Royce New York’s owners noticed that their customer service team couldn’t keep up with the scale of their new business. So their Measurable goal for the following year was to hire more staff so they could give clients the detail-oriented service they deserve. 

Take some inspiration from these independent brands and imagine what you might want to accomplish yourself. No matter what you want to achieve with your business, setting clear goals is the right first step.   

New to Faire? Sign up to shop, or apply to sell.

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