For sales quotas, always get the salespeople’s buy-in

Even if I’m not managing people nowadays (but I have been in the past), this is not the first time I write about how  to interact with the sales team and what actions can be helpful.

Last time I focused on why sometimes a team doesn’t do what the manager says, suggesting some effective questions to ask before you take any action.


Today I’d like to focus on a more challenging topic we often don’t want to talk about (except to complain about it): I’m talking about sales quotas.

Sales quotas are the main elements we are measured and evaluated against, and that is precisely why they are crucial for the company.

From our point of view, sales goals are the certainty we have to build by adding up many small uncertainties, which in our case is the reality we deal with every day.


Over the last years I have noticed that several times both me, my colleagues, and my students were not really committed against our goals-with a clear consequence on performance.

In other words, I noticed that although we were aware of the numbers, we were not emotionally involved in them: it was as if our rational and emotional plans were totally disconnected, or rather, that the latter did not exist at all.


This is why I began to wonder what could improve my commitment and after some researches, I suggested this to the manager I had at the time.

Let’s start as always with a foreward: the process of creating quotas is and should be an educational process, because quotas are critical for us.

Quotas define performance and determine incentives, and incentives are a way to satisfy our needs and the needs of those we care about.


According to this, it’s crucial for a salesperson to know that quotas are not arbitrary and she cannot choose them for herself based on her needs.

To reinforce this belief it’s necessary to take a few extra steps: first and foremost, to communicate exactly and punctually how the calculation was done.


In other words, the presentation of quotas (which should be preferred to simply ‘dropping a goal on the head’ of the salesperson) should then be reinforced with follow-up resources, such as PDFs or documents that contain the most important details of the calculation.

In addition and if the calculation is simple enough, the exact formula should then be communicated to the salesperson so that she can verify that the quota calculation is correct.

In my experience, this has improved the level of motivation and commitment to goal achievement.


As you see, it’s fundamental to educate the salespeople about the logic behind the calculation so as to increase their confidence and gain their acceptance.

But at this point you may be asking yourself, “This is a strategic and corporate communication issue, so what does the manager have to do with it?”.

You may be surprised, but in this case the front-line manager is crucial to get this commitment.


While corporate communication can help on a rational level (so salespeople understand what is behind the calculation of quotas and the rationality of them) it’s management communication which determines the emotional attachment to sales quotas.

In other words, it’s the manager who will be responsible for subsequent reinforcements by getting the right resources from the company to ensure that emotional involvement comes across the rational one.

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