How to Write OKRs to Align Revenue Teams

How to Write OKRs to Align Revenue Teams

Maybe you’ve heard of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), but perhaps you have no idea how to write OKRs in a manner that creates alignment, increases effectiveness, and helps businesses achieve their revenue goals.

However, a fantastic strategy and tight alignment are not enough; you have to execute as one team against a standard set of business goals.

Why are OKRs so important for go-to-market teams?

OKRs will help you build this alignment, as we’ll explore throughout the rest of this article.  

Let’s start first by answering a fundamental question.

 

What Are Objectives and Key Results?

Objectives and key results are any quantifiable goals that support your company’s mission or strategic vision. Each objective should align with the company’s key performance indicators (KPIs), and specific key results should help define how to make measurable progress toward achieving each goal.

SMART is one way to structure your OKR methodology. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound and provides the goal-setting structure that works.

In fact, OKR best practices suggest using the SMART goal-setting approach.

Let’s dig deeper into SMART, using a common Sales Enablement challenge,  sales onboarding, as an example.

Before we dive in…

Listen to John Doerr discuss OKRs (Video)

How to write OKRS using SMART

S (Specific Objectives)

As clearly and accurately as possible, describe what you want to achieve. The simpler your objective, the easier it will be to break down the steps and achieve them.

For example:

I will create an onboarding program that enables new sales hires to achieve their monthly quota. 

M (Measurable Goals)

How will you know if you are on the right path to achieving your key results?

Set milestones from start to end, and keep track of your achievements to measure progress and adjust.

Remember that measurable goals are critical.

For example:

I will create an onboarding program that enables new sales hires to achieve their monthly quota within four months. 

A (Achievable Challenges)

Have you set stretch goals or a goal that you genuinely believe you can achieve?

Remember, setting individual or team objectives that you feel are achievable will keep you motivated; those that feel impossible will not.

In addition, precisely what work do you need to do to make this objective more likely to be reached?

For example:

I will create a survey of questions to understand the requirements for a seller to achieve quota and discuss it with all stakeholders. This survey will allow me to create an onboarding program that enables new sales hires to hit their monthly quota within four months. 

R (Relevant Priorities)

As you document your objectives, ask yourself, “Are these relevant to me now, and are they the most important areas for me right now?” and, “Do these goals align with the stated company objectives?”

For example:

For the sales organization to achieve its 10% target growth rate, they plan to hire five more sellers next quarter. It is necessary to revamp our existing onboarding program to support this effort.

I will create a survey of questions to understand the requirements for a seller to achieve quota and discuss it with all stakeholders. This survey will allow me to create an onboarding program that enables new sales hires to hit their monthly quota within four months. 

T (Time-Bound)

What is your realistic timeframe for delivering on a goal’s key result?

For example:

For the sales organization to achieve its 10% target growth rate, they plan to hire five more sellers next quarter. It is necessary to revamp our existing onboarding program to support this effort.

I will create a survey of questions to understand the requirements for a seller to achieve quota and discuss it with all stakeholders. This survey will allow me to create an onboarding program over the next three months that enables new sales hires to hit their monthly quota within four months. 

As you look at this example, you should see how this goal-setting process has the potential to make you more successful with individual and team objectives.

How to write OKRs that generate results

Your company objectives should have clear, measurable outcomes. Your board, shareholders, and anyone else with a vested interest in the success of your business demand it.

Let’s look at an example where a company has stated company objectives of a 5% increase in profit and a 10% increase in revenue.

The company strategy is in place, annual goals, quarterly objectives, and key results have been stated. These pieces are then handed down as team objectives to each executive leader to create OKRs to support goal achievement.

Cascading Goals

As each level of the organization creates its OKRs to achieve the company’s top-level objective (s), the objectives and key results cascade down to the following organizational level, acting as inputs for the next level down.

And the OKRs process flows down the organization in that manner.

How does the OKR methodology validate, align, and drive progress towards the team, individual, and corporate goals?

How do these cascading goals help Enablement drive successful outcomes?

Create Alignment (between Marketing and Sales and all other teams)

At the team level, managers are responsible for ensuring their teams take an outcome-based approach — key results remain front and center.

In other words, if the effort across an individual team will not support achieving the cascaded goals, leaders need to bring their teams together.

This aligning and realigning process allows leaders, and Sales Enablement professionals, to partner with all customer-facing teams to ensure they remain aligned on business objectives, strategies, and tactics required to achieve the business goals.

This alignment process is part of the OKR workflow. And as the statistics at the beginning of this article point out, it is critical for success.

Better Employee Engagement

Each individual is ultimately responsible for defining how they will achieve their goals and key results.

The entire organization must be engaged in the process and setting OKRs; if not, the projects being defined and worked on due to the OKR process will fail, organizations will not achieve objectives, and the entire thing will fall apart.

How does this help the Enablement team?

The Sales Enablement team is a part of the entire process, and the whole team buys into the tactics used as a critical component to business success.

Adopting programs is far less challenging as everyone is aligned and fully understands why the Enablement team’s efforts matter.

Go-to-Market OKR Examples

Now that we understand how the OKR methodology works, let’s look at a few examples.

Objective: Increase Sales by 10%

Key Results:

  • Sell to 10 new customers
  • Increase deal value by 20%
  • Shorten the sales cycle by 10%
Objective: Decrease customer churn by 2%

Key Results:

  • Improve customer satisfaction scores by 5%
  • Retain 92% of current customers
  • Reduce customer support requests by 8%

Final Thoughts on how to write OKRs

OKRs make a lot of sense for organizations of all sizes. The benefits for enablement are tremendous, keeping them aligned vertically and horizontally in the business in terms of goals and communication.

Sales enablement managers often struggle to build the alignment that is a natural outcome of OKRs, making this goal-setting methodology a natural fit for businesses seeking to maximize the value of their investment in enablement.

Our OKR best practice is the following: if you are not yet using OKRs, consider adding them — you will reap positive, measurable outcomes.

 

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