The Scientific Approach To Setting Sales Goals For Your SDR Team {Template Included}

Sales Goals for Sales Development

In this tactical breakdown, you’ll learn how to understand SaaS costs basics, and how to accurately set sales goals and metrics that drive success for your sales team.

We’ll also review how to determine if your team structure is working or not, as this is a crucial factor that impacts revenue goals.

8 Step Checklist For Setting Sales Goals:

  1. Understand how CAC works.
  2. Compare Marketing and Sales costs.
  3. Stop chasing marketing attribution.
  4. Combine Sales and Marketing goals with Sales Development.
  5. Set revenue goals for your SDR team.
  6. Work out your new CAC with this revenue goal.
  7. Break down revenue goals into Sales Development goals.
  8. Calculate the number of opportunities per SDR per month.

As a VP of Sales, Here’s Why You Should Care

So you’re a VP of Sales, but you’re probably not too familiar with SaaS metrics or costs — that’s the CFO’s job, right? Not quite.

This exercise is important because Sales Development is not seen as a direct revenue-machine but a cost center, and therefore you’re probably trying to minimize your Sales Development costs.

1) Understand How CAC Works

Imagine I give you this deal. If you give me $15,000 today, I’ll pay you back $1,000 every month for the next 36 months. Would you take it? I’ve asked that question to many people and the overwhelming majority says, “Of course!”

That’s how SaaS works. Imagine you sell a $12,000 ACV product. Most clients stay with you for three years, so about $1,000 per month for 36 months. So, how much would you be willing to pay to get that client?

If you actually look at SaaS metrics, the cost of acquiring $1 of ARR is $1.15 in 2017.

That’s about $13,800 to get the above client to pay $1,000 every month for as long as the client stays with you.

This is an average that includes HubSpot, Salesforce, and all those awesome companies, so stick with me for the $15,000 for now. It’s a good deal!

2) Compare Marketing & Sales Costs

Back to your company.

VPs of Sales know that their AEs’ quota should be 3-5x their OTE, so let’s take 4x as an average, that’s $0.25 for every $1 in ARR.

Then we can add tools, data, benefits, insurance, office space, and the very important cost of management! We might end up at $0.40 per $1 of ARR.

So, if we get to $0.40 with the sales team, but the true cost is $1.15, where are the other $0.75 coming from!? Marketing (mostly).

As a seller, you probably know that Marketing has huge budgets. From online ads to trade shows, sponsorships, events.

Literally, for every $1 ARR you acquire, the cost of sponsoring those shows including plane tickets, hotel rooms, people’s time and all the rest, it’s $0.75.

Even worse, their solutions are not scalable! 2 booths at Dreamforce don’t get you twice as many deals closed as one booth. Marketing is clearly not concerned about costs.

So far it looks something like this:

Set sales goals from marketing costs

3) Stop Chasing Marketing Attribution

Great CMOs, CROs, and CFOs are now looking at the actual customer funnel top to bottom, from trade show scan to closed-won Opportunity, and trying to figure out what lead source investment is best.

This is incredibly complicated as many leads have been touched by multiple marketing campaigns, from a newsletter to a white paper to a trade show and an inbound SDR before they become an Opportunity, so assigning a percent of influence to all these is a math nightmare. However, if you can get even close to it, it’s super helpful.

In the world of marketing 1+1+1+1+1 could be equal to anywhere between 3 and 20, and it’s hard to know.

4) Combine Sales & Marketing Goals with Sales Development

“The most valuable activity in the sales process is a set appointment.” – Jeb Blount

Imagine you’re at a company that needs to accelerate growth through outbound.

You’ll reach out to 100% cold Target Accounts.

You have no help from Marketing on these leads.

How do you set goals?


How to set sales goals for Sales Development

Your Sales Development organization costs should account for your old costs of marketing and lead qualification. Your SDRs will be copywriting, sourcing Account and Contact data, getting on the phone and evangelizing your message to get you meetings.

If the graph shows $0.75 for SDRs and $0.40 on AEs, am I saying that you should spend twice as much on SDRs as you do on your AEs? Not exactly.

But if you have no marketing whatsoever, and your AEs do not want to do any cold calling or source deals themselves, you will need to have 2 SDRs for every AE.

If your AEs are willing to spend half their time sourcing deals and can self-source 40% of their pipeline, maybe a 1:1 SDR to AE ratio is fine, but then remember that when you consider the salary of that AE, you should assign a significant portion to Sales Development costs and not sales costs.

5) Set Revenue Goals for Your SDR Team

Again for simplicity purposes, let’s assume that your AEs are 100% dedicated to closing deals and don’t source any deals.

Your SDRs are 100% outbound and have no help from marketing.

How do you set goals?

Easy. Here’s the formula to solve for:

{{Benchmarked Cost of Outbound Sales Dev}} = {{ARR Generated}}

0.75 X = Y

X = 1.33 Y

Hopefully, you got the basic algebra there and now you understand that the revenue contribution of your Sales Development is equal to 1.33 x your total spend on Sales Development, which includes, salaries, commission, benefits, insurance, office space, tools, data, management, etc.

Here’s an example.

If you have 2 SDRs at $80K OTE, an SDR Manager/Sales Ops person at $130K OTE in San Francisco, and you spend $50K in tools, data, and office space.

The calculations are as follows:

Salaries = ($80,000 * 2 + $130K) = $290K

Benefits and others = 0.3 * Salaries = $87K

Tools and data = $50K

Total cost = $427K

Required revenue = 1.33 * cost

Required revenue = 1.33 * $427K = $570K.

6) Work Out Your New CAC with This Revenue Goal

Assume now, that your Cost of Sales, as explained above is $0.40 per $1 of ARR. That would mean that that from that $570K in revenue you got, the cost is as follows:

Cost of sales = $570K * 0.4 = $228K

Cost of Sales Dev = $427K (from above)

Total CAC = $228K + $427K = $655K

Total Revenue = $570K (from above)

CAC Payback = Cost/Revenue = $655K / $570K = $1.15

At $1.15 CAC payback period you are running your sales organization more efficiently than HubSpot and Salesforce!, So to go back to the beginning, the math behind it says that if your Sales Development organization can source 1.33x it’s cost (or more!), you’re golden.

**Note that this was an Outbound only team! If you have any sort of marketing and inbound leads, your goals will be much higher. Contact me if you need help figuring those out.

7) Break Down Revenue Goals into Sales Development Goals

Continuing with the example above, you have SDRs and they need to source $570K in Revenue, therefore their quotas should be $285K each. At an $80K OTE, their quota looks, in this case, to be 3.5x their OTE.

In the majority of cases, I have found this to be true when you build an in-house team. Your outbound SDRs will need to contribute 3-5x their OTE, as closed-won revenue in order to be sustainable. Your inbound SDRs might need to be at 6x – 10x their quota in order to be sustainable due to the added marketing costs.

Remember that you’ll need to give your SDRs time to ramp. Specifically outbound SDRs, who will require 1.2-1.5x sales cycles before any revenue comes in and you can start doing these calculations.

8) Finally, Calculate Opportunities/SDR/Month

Assuming that you have already created an SLA and that you have a good SDR to AE handoff, we can estimate you’ll close 7-15% of deals. Let’s pick 10% for easy calculations.

If your close rate is much lower than this for outbound, you either don’t have a good SLA, or your AEs do not know how to perform outbound demos, which are different from inbound.

Now we need to get your ACV and start reverse engineering how many Opportunities each SDR needs to create per month for this model to be sustainable. Let’s assume you have a $30K ACV.

With a $30K ACV, your SDRs need 10 demos closed per year to hit their $185k goals be sustainable, or about 0.8 per month. Since you only win 10% of Opportunities, your SDRs then need to get 8 demos performed to pass the SLA criteria per month, which is a good indicator you can use after your SDRs have ramped up.

Usually about 20% of demos no-show, and therefore your SDRs need to get 10 meetings scheduled, which is about one meeting every 2 days.

Conclusion: It’s All About Tying Sales Goals Back To Revenue

The math will, of course, vary according to ACV and close rate, but you can go ahead and do your own calculations. In the long term, we recommend measuring the effectiveness of Sales Development by tying it to revenue.

However in the early days, to get some hints about whether things are working out, you can run the reverse math as I just did and determine if your SDRs are building 10x the pipeline that they need to close. If they can do that, at least you know you have a chance at building a powerful outbound engine.

I know that not everyone is a math geek like I am, so feel free to contact me on LinkedIn, and follow my content there as well. I’m always happy to provide further insights or help you run the numbers for your company.

Also published on Medium.

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    • 0
      Profile picture of Bogdan Sporea
      ( 420 POINTS )
      2 years, 11 months ago


      Thank you for this article, but still not 100% clear to me. Let me put it in my baby language 🙂

      I was always curious about how a sales target is calculated, how the increase in the target is set.

      Let me explain. Let’s say we have 3 scenarios:

      Target is to close 1M in 2020

      #1 You underachieve for XYZ reason and finish the year at 900k

      #2 Bingo, you finish the year at 1M = 100% of your target

      #3 Champion, you deliver 1.5M = 150% of your target.

      The company you work for has a 20% growth in 2021.

      My question to you Executives Sales 🙂

      Are you going to apply the 20% :

      Scenario #1 – on my 900k since I underperformed, which will give me a 2021 target 1,080,000?

      Scenario #2 – on my 1M (which was my 2020 target), so my 2021 target would be 1.2M?

      Scenario #3 – On my super achievement 1.5M, so my next target would be 1.8M?

      Do you also calculate target based on region/countries?

      If the company has a 20% growth target in 2021, do you simply apply the 20% growth to your region/salespeople or EMEA could get a 30% increase because xy reason and APAC could get a 10% only?

      Thank you for your help and for making sure I understand how that works 🙂

      enjoy your day

    • 0
      Profile picture of Mark McInnes
      ( 1.2k POINTS )
      1 year, 8 months ago

      Golden share 💥

    • 0
      Profile picture of Tech2Sales
      ( 170 POINTS )
      1 year, 4 months ago

      I like your post, many (sales) people underestimate ist the ability of companies to financial engineer there COGS sold, e.g.

      A company does have a high leverage plan OTE 55% fixed 45% commission
      They knew from the past years how many people will over-perform 3% (get an accelerator lets just say 2x), how many just reach their target 37% and how many will not meet the goal 60%.

      So you set the Sales Goals in a way that you do have in the end
      3% * 2 + 37% * 1 and + 60% * 0.55 = 0.76
      Which means that if everybody would reach their target you would have to pay lets say 500k salary to your salesforce – but see above actually you just pay 380k and do have the advantage that you can put pressure on 60% of you Salesforce.

      So in the end you relate the overall Payment plans of your sales to the companies goals and tweak the goal setting it in a way that you can “drive your people” with carrot and the stick.

    • 0
      Profile picture of salesan
      ( 240 POINTS )
      3 months, 3 weeks ago

      It’s not 100% clear but a great attempt to explain the connection between finance and sales. I agree with the methodologies that you use but the explanation for this concept could have been more straightforward and simple.

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