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Attaining Sales Quotas
Blog / Sales Management / Oct 2, 2018 / Posted by John Golden / 3179

Attaining Sales Quotas


Quota attainment is often at the forefront of the minds of all sales organization employees. This article gives information and actionable advice to ensure that sales managers help motivate and coach their salespeople efficiently and that salespeople utilize the tools and have the best mindset to ultimately hit or exceed their quota.

The Science Behind Quotas:

Many corporate environments feel as if they’re putting science behind their plans to achieve and attain quotas. But in reality, many companies are actually using semi-educated guesswork to formulate their processes. Research, data, and conversations are utilized to put quota plans together, but leadership more often than not goes with their gut to put things together. There are other factors, like the size of the company and history of the company that require more science and educated planning to achieve their quota. Seasonal activities and growth history can also influence how quotas are set and developed.

  • Create quotas on a collaborative basis so that you don’t end up with a residual gap between what the sales people say they can create, and what leaders say they expect.
  • A good sales manager has to look at size, access to data, what the business conditions, and growth potential to create a reasonable quota.

Quota Attainment as a Collaborative Process:

Salespeople and sales managers have to collaborate to attain sales quotas. Sales leaders get a target number from upper management, and then have to find ways to train and coach their sales team to help them achieve this number. The salesperson will always come up with a number that is different, and it’s usually on the conservative side. The real issue is that it’s not strong enough to get the productivity out of the sales force that you need. If there isn’t collaboration, there is a gap in expectations, and you won’t end up with the result that you want. To have your sales team excel, listen to them. The result will be better in the end because they have a personal, vested interest in achieving the thing that they helped create.

  • Ensure that salespeople own their sales quotas.
  • The sales manager has to come up with a game plan to sell the idea of this quota to each person.
  • The manager has to verify that the salespeople have a strategy for reaching their quotas. This is where close collaboration comes into play so that they understand how to achieve their goals and there isn’t a gap in expectations.
  • Allow them to be heard and feel as if they have sin in the game.

Common Mistakes:

There are many mistakes in how quotas are set that ultimately lead to salespeople missing their target and not achieving their revenue goals. These mistakes should be avoided at all costs. Not including the people who have to carry out and actually accomplish the quota is one of the biggest mistakes leaders can make. Salespeople should be integrated and involved in the decision making so that all parties can come up with a reasonable and attainable goal. Other mistakes include when sales managers don’t put together numbers that make sense year after year. There has to be an alignment from one year to the next. But, at the same time, adding 15% or X% to last years quota is not a smart way to create a quota. There are many different factors like marketplace changes and economic shifts that need to be considered to develop a strategic, realistic, and attainable quota. Furthermore, it’s a mistake to include anything other than organic volume in your total quota. Some quotas get weighed down with market expansion, product increase, and other fluff, which masks the productivity of salespeople.

  • Ensure the salespeople are involved
  • Shifts in the business environment need to be considered to ensure that the quota is set intelligently
  • Use a detailed template to test reasonableness and ensure realistic quota attainment
  • Only include organic volume growth in quotas.

Salespeople’s Success:

While sales managers can be very helpful in helping salespeople achieve quotas, there are also things that salespeople can do at an individual level to set themselves up for success. Sales is a lifestyle, not just a task. Just because you hit your individual goal doesn’t mean that you stop working or stop selling. Understanding how to create this lifestyle for yourself will help you achieve the number that you’re looking for. Sometimes, individual success comes from putting the number in the back of your mind and thinking of the quota in terms of a plan, or small steps to getting to your ultimate goal. Know how much networking to do, be clear on prospects, know how many sales calls and follow up calls you need to make a week, and know that these behaviors will help push you towards getting to your number. But, at the same time, no quota plan ever works the way that the sales rep thinks it’s going to work. The best plans know how to recover from unforeseen events that will inevitably come. Salespeople must create a balance where they hold the quota and their quota achievement plan together with the realities of sales and selling.

  • Know the behaviors that you’re going to utilize
  • As a salesperson, hold yourself accountable. Look at your actions and explore what is working and what isn’t. Track the behaviors that you do, learn which practices are working, and which things need to change. Be continually adjusting your sales process.
  • Try to achieve 125% of your quota. Then, if you fall short, you’ve still hit the 100% mark.
  • Create a six-month business plan that utilizes a collaborative approach between salesperson and sales managers. The salesperson discusses their training needs and personal goals with their manager and then forecasts the highest amount they think they could sell, as well as a more predictable quota. Together, they create a proactive plan to achieve their quota that divides into monthly tasks that work in combination to achieve the six-month goal.

Mistakes to Avoid:

Avoiding errors is one of the best ways to ensure that you achieve your quota. One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is that they will start and stop selling. Once they meet their monthly quota, they take their foot off the gas and think they don’t have to worry about next month until the time comes. But, sales is a lifestyle and something that needs to be done continuously. Tactics also need to be updated on a regular basis. Salespeople are still using sales strategies that are designed for a different marketplace, different customer, and different sales cycle. This creates a disconnect between how they are selling and the environment they are selling in, and yet it’s still a common mistake that salespeople fall into. Finally, be sure to avoid a negative mindset. Mindset can also set the tone for success, or failure. If you think that you are going to fail, it’s likely that you will. But on the contrary, if you think positively and utilize emotional fortitude, it can help salespeople push through when things are tough.

  • Have a mindset that fosters believe in achievement abilities.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Be continually evolving and learning from your results.
  • Don’t start and stop selling. Continuously work to reach or excel past the quota, even if you’ve attained your monthly goals.
  • Abandon the tactics that don’t work.
  • Put effort into the deals that will give you a return on investment. Don’t waste time on deals that aren’t worth your time and energy.

Last Minute Life Savers:

Maybe you’re at the end of your year, and your quota is seeming less attainable and more out of reach. More often than not, salespeople find themselves in this position. There are some things that you can do to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

  • Avoid coming off as desperate.
  • Sell inside out. Create a proactive plan to up-sell current clients that already like you, trust you, and are willing to buy from you. It will boost your confidence and get you some instant wins.
  • Have a group of five peers that sell non-competing products. Meet with them on a regular basis to help understand the industry, and get referrals from them.
  • Find a coworker and have weekly sales strategy conversations. Create your own peer group to discuss each other’s opportunities, and identify what strategies are working, and what could be improved on.

Information for this article was sourced from this sales professional panel discussion, hosted by John Golden, featuring the expert opinions of Meridith Elliot Powell, Ken Thoreson, and Roy Osing.

About Author

John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist, he has conducted over 1500 video interviews of thought leaders for Sales POP! online sales magazine & YouTube Channel and for audio podcast channels where Sales POP! is rated in the top 2% of most popular shows out of 3,320,580 podcasts globally, ranked by Listen Score. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.

Author's Publications on Amazon

John Golden, best selling author of "Winning the Battle for Sales" presents "Social Upheaval: How to Win At Social Selling" to explain how every B2B salesperson can add social selling methods to their toolkits, and why it is so important that they do so without…
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FROM THE CREATORS OF SPIN SELLING―TRIED-AND-TRUE STRATEGIES TO ARM YOU IN THE WAR FOR SALES SUPREMACY "I distinctly remember my first VP talking about 'campaigns' and 'targets.' Indeed, successful salespeople have made learning from military tactics an important aspect of their careers. In this engaging…
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