5 Mistakes Sales Teams Make With OKRs


The need for OKR management is on an ever-increasing rise since the global pandemic surfaced.  The framework serves every department in an organization and pushes them for effective goal-setting, especially your sales team. Companies can witness a rapid surge in the productivity of the sales team by providing them an ideal combination of stretch plus structure and making them more focused than ever. 


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Although, you may find getting started with OKRs to be a tricky business, specifically for the sales teams that have been working without any goal and performance management methodologies. Hence, it is crucial to avoid the mistakes that can hamper the successful implementation of OKRs.  

OKR management is not limited to any department and is known to be beneficial for all the departments of the organization.OKRs serve as a superpower for the sales teams by helping them track their progress, establish alignment and promote engagement around measurable objectives. 

For several decades now, OKRs are known to have helped the sales department to a great extent. When implemented correctly, it yields high output management, alignment of teams and enhances the communication to achieve all the organizational goals.

Implementing OKRs for the sales team 

The first and the most important step towards effective implementation of the OKR framework is that the objectives need to be explicit, actionable, and motivating. It is the key results that determine if the objectives have succeeded or failed. The key results should also be quantifiable and time-bound, as this makes it easy3 for the teams to gauge their progress. Contributors for the KRs should measure the progress on a regular basis, ideally once each week. At the end of the OKR period, there should be a standard grading of the OKR retrospectively. 

When it comes to setting OKRs for your sales team, we and all the other experts recommend making it as collaborative as possible. Conducting a brainstorming session will increase the engagement of your sales team, give them a sense of ownership and drive accountability to achieve the goals. 

Ultimately, you should be forming a process in which the sales team will feel empowered to set their OKRs and focus on the right priorities at the right time. This will also encourage creative thinking and informed risk-taking – both of which are extremely important to increase the potential of your sales team. 

In addition to this, it is also important to make your sales team aware of the mistakes to avoid. To ensure successful OKR management for your sales team, continue reading further to know about the common mistakes the sales team makes when it comes to OKRs. 

5 mistakes sales teams make with OKRs

#1 Looking at just the numbers 

While setting the OKRs, it is quite necessary for your sales team to think further than the sales quota. Increasing the ‘count’ of your sales calls and meetings might not be enough to move the business forward effectively. Rather consider setting objectives revolving around the improvement of the process, making the team spirit better, and improving the cross-functional collaboration. To sum it up, the process of setting OKR should aim for behavioral changes that should lead to sustained impact in the business. 

#2 Expecting rapid buy-in  

The common factor behind all the successful OKR management and programs is that goals are established from the top-down and the buy-in is established from the bottom-up. Managers and leaders such as you should responsibly collect feedback from individual members of the teams. You have to make sure to gather this feedback before setting the OKRs of the sales team at the start of every planning cycle. This way the OKRs are set from top to bottom and everyone works to keep everyone on track to achieving the same organizational goals. 

#3 Using KRs to track tasks rather than outcomes

The temptation to use the OKRs as a task list will not be limited to just the sales team. This is why it is important to get a clear understanding of how OKRs are different from that list of tasks the team has to perform. In simple words – a task is something that your team will do while an OKR is something that they aim at achieving. OKRs are never meant to serve as a checklist or a to-do list. Tasks, despite being encompassed by OKRs, are completely different from the OKR management and process. Instead of tracking your own input (eg. the number of calls you make), use KRs to track goal achievement (eg. number of sales closures). This shift in focus can be monumental in how you measure success!

#4 Being afraid of change 

To function at their best, your sales team should always be able to adapt to changes in the industry. One of the primary benefits of OKRs is that they are never rigid. Rather they enable teams and organizations to be agile and provide regular room for refinement. The faster you are able to identify and accept the requirement for change, the faster you will be able to make the required adjustments that will help your team to progress towards the organizational goals. 

#5 Keeping it safe always 

Now, we are not advising you to back your sales team to take risks every day of every week. However, you should understand that, unlike the sales quota, the progress of OKRs should not be tied to compensation. Your sales team may need time to adjust to working with an OKR management system. Start by challenging your sales team to have one ambitious OKR for each planning cycle. Make sure that you clearly inform them that the OKR implementation is being done to enable positive business outcomes and not to set a new way to measure compensation. 

Final Take          

Just like all the good things, OKRs take time as it yields long-term success for the organization. Getting used to the OKRs requires time and patience, so do not expect overnight improvements from your sales department. If you avoid the above-listed mistakes and take these points into consideration to work as a team, you will notice a considerable improvement in the functioning of your organization. The final outcome will depend on the alignment between the sales team and the goals of the business. It will also depend upon the cross-functionality between the other organizational teams.

Just like the sales team, the other teams of your organization will benefit a lot from OKR management, resulting in achieving the organizational goals effectively. This is the reason that the organizational leaders have made it a priority to use OKRs for the teams of their organization. Why are you still keeping your organization away from the massive benefits of OKRs? Talk to the leading experts today before your competitors leave you behind.

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