OKRs: How the right objectives and key results process can help sales teams soar in 2018

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At one point or another, you may have heard the saying, “Routine sets you free.” That principle holds true in the business world and can be applied to corporate goal setting, too. With a powerful, routine-oriented goal setting framework like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), your organization can fall into a pattern of setting, tracking, and achieving both operational and ambitious goals.

This pattern is especially important for sales teams to master. With an ongoing need to help their teams meet quotas and develop a stronger pipeline, it’s essential for sales managers to give their reps the tools they need to consistently achieve their goals. It’s why, at Atiim, we created decided to offer those kinds of tools, by creating our OKR goal setting software.   Let’s take a look at how to make the best use of those tools with the right process and approach:

Plan Just 1x Per Quarter

OKRs let you set a routine and then orient your sales team around your priorities. Many managers choose to set quarterly OKRs, because it allows them to check in on progress weekly and make sure 10% of each Objective is being completed (with an additional 2-3 week buffer period). Since everyone knows from the beginning of the quarter what their goals are (and how they connect to both departmental and company priorities), there’s no subsequent time spent discussing which quotas or similar outcomes teams should be focusing on. When your sales reps know precisely where their priorities lie, there’s no time wasted wondering where they should direct their efforts. 

Additionally, OKRs don’t just identify the goals themselves, they also require a plan for how the goals will be completed (the Key Results). A goal without a plan is just a wish, and trying to achieve it will simply cause your team to lose valuable time. A goal accompanied by a plan, however, can drive clarity, performance, and ultimately, results.

Check In Just Once A Week

Without a plan, you lose a lot of time answering questions, reminding employees what to focus on, and overseeing progress. Since everything is already planned out with OKRs, all you have to do is just have a brief one-on-one meeting with each of your sales reps weekly. It might sound counterintuitive to save time by meeting with each employee individually, but it works.

Here’s why: When you take the time to proactively discuss progress, give actionable feedback, and provide any course-correction as needed, you’ll be able to cut out a tremendous amount of communication throughout the rest of the week. Since everything is made clear as a result of your weekly check-in, you won’t have to hold lengthy meetings, put out fires, or chase down of your reps for updates on how they’re progressing towards their goals.

Course Correct Proactively

OKRs give you the power to step in and take action when you see progress falling behind on a specific quota or other goal, or spot an impending obstacle. This saves you time and hassle you’d otherwise spend resolving problems down the road. Fixing mistakes is always more time-consuming than avoiding them in the first place, which OKRs help you do. With OKR software, you can even set alerts to be notified when a certain objective is at risk. Instead of having to go looking for red flags among your sales reps, they’ll be delivered directly to your inbox. 

OKRs are also agile enough to allow for changes as your needs evolve. Sometimes, the priorities you had at the beginning of the quarter may shift as time goes on. Due to market concerns, shifts in resources, or the development of new sales opportunities, your sales goals may need to be updated throughout the quarter. Since OKRs are inherently cascaded downwards, aligned up, and connected across the entire organization, you can change goals to reflect your shifting priorities with ease. 

Keep Everyone Consistently Informed

From meetings to emails, the amount of time spent trying to successfully execute your sales strategy can be tremendous. Because your team and individual OKRs are linked to your overall sales priorities and everyone can see how their work supports and connects to those priorities, you don’t need to constantly reiterate your strategy. It’s organically intertwined in the work your team is doing, so you can save a vast amount of time you’d otherwise spend communicating your needs, vision, and so forth.

OKR software also lets you access, track, and measure your own individual progress, as well as that of other employees. So, instead of having to ask someone in another department about the status of a particular deliverable, your reps can simply go in and locate that individual’s OKRs to see how far along they are. This, too, results in substantial time savings.

Use OKR Data to Plan for the Future

How much time is spent planning sales goals? It can become a lengthy process if you don’t have the right information. Aside from identifying your current needs and opportunities, you can also rely on additional sources like OKR data to help frame your future goals. For instance, if one of your reps fell short trying to achieve an ambitious quota or similar objective during the previous quarter, they might collaborate with you to reframe the goal for next time.

OKR data can also be instrumental in tracking the performance of individual sales reps. While it shouldn’t be the only factor upon which performance evaluations are based, it can factor into future decisions for succession planning, developmental opportunities, rewards, and pay increases. Because OKR data is right at managers’ fingertips, they can access an aggregated overview of employee performance at a moment’s notice, making it easier for them to manage their teams effectively. 

Skip Cumbersome Spreadsheets

The OKR process in general saves you time in the ways listed above and more, but you can further enhance your time savings by utilizing OKR software. Instead of using complex and cumbersome spreadsheets to keep track of sales goals, OKR software naturally aligns everyone’s goals to keep your team working in sync. As a result, you’ll minimize redundant efforts and misdirection, as well as wasted time from lack of focus and lengthy, inconvenient processes.

Shared spreadsheets are intricate, are too easy to make errors in, and don’t give you the ability to access the information you need quickly. Software designed specifically for OKR goals will save you the greatest amount of time with user-friendly features like smart goals dashboards and sure insights to keep everyone on the same page at all times.

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Zorian Rotenberg

Zorian Rotenberg

Zorian Rotenberg is the co-founder and CEO of Atiim. He was previously the vice-president of sales and marketing at InsightSquared and AppAssure Software.