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How to Set Sales and Marketing Targets: A Step-by-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs

business growth marketing strategy Oct 10, 2023
How to Set Sales and Marketing Targets: A Step-by-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs

In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, setting clear and achievable sales and marketing targets is crucial for the success and growth of your business. Whether you're running a startup or a well-established SaaS (Software as a Service) company or an e-commerce business, having a systematic approach to defining your revenue goals and breaking them down into actionable steps can be the difference between flourishing and faltering. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore how to set sales and marketing targets using a waterfall system, a proven strategy that can help entrepreneurs reach their business objectives.

Understanding the Waterfall System

The waterfall system is a methodical approach to target setting that involves working backward from your revenue goal. By dissecting your overarching goal into smaller, more manageable components, you gain clarity on the specific actions and metrics needed to achieve your objectives. Let's walk through the process step by step, using both a hypothetical SaaS business and an e-commerce business as examples.

Step 1: Define Your Revenue Goal

Your journey begins with a clear revenue target. For instance:

  • SaaS Business Goal: You aim to generate $2 million in annual revenue.

  • E-commerce Business Goal: Your e-commerce store strives for $1.5 million in annual sales.

These are your ultimate destinations.

Step 2: Determine Your Average Deal Size (SaaS) or Average Order Value (E-commerce)

Next, calculate the average revenue generated from a single customer or deal.

  • SaaS Business: If your SaaS product is priced at $500 per month, your annual average deal size would be $6,000 ($500 x 12 months).

  • E-commerce Business: If the average order value in your store is $100, that's your average order value.

These metrics are essential for understanding how many deals or orders you need to meet your revenue goal.

Step 3: Calculate the Number of Deals (SaaS) or Orders (E-commerce) Needed

To reach your revenue goal:

  • SaaS Business: You'd need to close approximately 333 deals ($2,000,000 / $6,000 per deal).

  • E-commerce Business: You'd need to secure 15,000 orders ($1,500,000 / $100 per order).

These figures provide tangible targets for your sales or e-commerce team.

Step 4: Determine Your Conversion Rates

Now, let's dive into your sales funnel and establish conversion rates at different stages. For this example, let's assume:

  • SaaS Business:

    • Lead to Opportunity Conversion Rate: 10%

    • Opportunity to Close-Won Conversion Rate: 30%

  • E-commerce Business:

    • Visitor to Add-to-Cart Conversion Rate: 5%

    • Add-to-Cart to Checkout Conversion Rate: 50%

Step 5: Calculate the Number of Opportunities (SaaS) or Visitors (E-commerce) Needed

To secure the required deals or orders:

  • SaaS Business: You'd need 1,110 opportunities (333 deals / 0.30 close-won conversion rate).

  • E-commerce Business: You'd need 300,000 visitors (15,000 orders / 0.05 visitor to add-to-cart conversion rate).

These metrics help you understand how many prospects or visitors need to progress through your sales or e-commerce funnel.

Step 6: Calculate the Number of Leads (SaaS) or Add-to-Cart Actions (E-commerce) Needed

To generate the necessary opportunities or visitors:

  • SaaS Business: You'd need to attract 11,100 leads (1,110 opportunities / 0.10 lead to opportunity conversion rate).

  • E-commerce Business: You'd need 150,000 add-to-cart actions (300,000 visitors / 0.50 add-to-cart to checkout conversion rate).

This is where your marketing efforts come into play.

Step 7: Determine Sales Conversations (SaaS) or Checkout Actions (E-commerce)

Not every lead will convert into an opportunity, and not every visitor will complete a purchase. Assume:

  • SaaS Business: Your sales team can convert 20% of leads into actual sales conversations.

  • E-commerce Business: 20% of visitors proceed to the checkout page and complete the purchase.

To calculate the number of sales conversations or checkout actions required:

  • SaaS Business: 11,100 leads / 0.20 (20% conversion rate) = 55,500 sales conversations.

  • E-commerce Business: 150,000 add-to-cart actions / 0.20 (20% conversion rate) = 30,000 checkout actions.

Step 8: Distribute Targets Among Your Team

Now, it's time to allocate these targets among your sales and marketing teams (SaaS) or e-commerce teams (E-commerce). For instance:

  • SaaS Business: If you have a team of 5 sales representatives, each representative would need to aim for:

    • 67 deals per year

    • 222 opportunities per year

    • 2,220 leads per year

    • 11,100 sales conversations per year

  • E-commerce Business: You can distribute targets among your marketing and e-commerce teams based on your team's capacity and capabilities.

These targets can be further broken down into monthly or quarterly goals to maintain focus and track progress effectively.

The Benefits of the Waterfall System

The waterfall system offers several advantages for entrepreneurs, regardless of whether you're in the SaaS or e-commerce industry:

Clarity and Focus

By breaking down your revenue goal into specific metrics, you provide your team with a clear roadmap. Everyone understands their role in achieving the company's objectives.

Data-Driven Decision Making

This approach relies on data and conversion rates, allowing you to make informed decisions about your sales and marketing strategies. If one stage of the funnel isn't performing as expected, you can adjust your efforts accordingly.


Sales, marketing, and e-commerce teams often work in silos. The waterfall system aligns these teams, fostering collaboration and ensuring that all departments are working toward the same end goal.


If market conditions change or unexpected challenges arise, you can adapt your targets and strategies accordingly, ensuring your business remains agile.


Each team member knows their individual targets and can be held accountable for their contribution to the company's success.


In the world of entrepreneurship, setting and achieving sales and marketing targets is essential for growth and success. The waterfall system provides a structured approach to target setting that can guide your SaaS business or e-commerce store toward your revenue goals. By breaking down your objectives into measurable metrics and aligning your teams, you'll be better equipped to navigate the competitive landscape and achieve the success you envision for your business. So, start today, and watch your entrepreneurial dreams turn into reality, one step at a time. Whether you're selling software or products, this systematic approach can pave the way for your business's growth and prosperity.

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