Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why You Missed Quota

The sales quota is much-argued situation in most sales organization. How is it set? Do previous successful months offset less successful months? Is it a moving target, growing as you become more successful? Is management doing anything to support achieving quota? Sales pros love quota when they're ahead, and hate it when they're behind. Should a company even use quota anymore?

Sadly, quota isn't going anywhere. It's how most sales organizations predict the cash flow they will generate to support the rest of the company. These predictions need to be pretty accurate, or the dominoes fall fast and hard. So why are they so difficult to hit? It may be a combination of management's fault, and your problem.

Quota isn't always important. If meeting quota isn't a consistent qualification for keeping your job, it may be an excuse to fire reps who haven't fit into the corporate culture, or rubbed management the wrong way. Or it may only be important if cash flow is tight. Inconsistent attention to quota makes it hard to take seriously. If you miss quota occasionally, you're normal. But beware: if no one mentions it to you, and asks if your pipeline is recovering this month, and asks how they can help, management may be using missing your quota as a way to ease you out the door.

You aren't doing the right homework. Sales pros are prone to bouts of burnout - feeling like our work is under-appreciated, over-paper-worked, and too repetitive. It's work to keep it fresh and still be effective. Read at least part of some sales philosophy or sales system book or tweet or blog every day. Every time you tweak your perspective, you stave off burnout. Also, create a strong list of call objectives for each call. If you had one before, shake out the ineffective goals and replace them with new stuff. New conversations will yield new results.

Management doesn't support the team. Does your manager help? Or threaten? Does upper management bring in outside trainers to offer you a fresh perspective? Are you discouraged from taking time off? Is the organization aligned with keeping customers, and serving them well? Some managers are just as burned out as their team, making them ineffective at providing the support, sounding board, and education the team needs. Some customer service staff look at every customer as a list of problems. It's very hard to be a successful solo act if your management has a negative attitude.

You flip out when you have a slump. In simple terms, you're superstitious. You think a bad week means you've "lost your touch." If you could make sales two weeks ago, you can still do it. (It's not a magic trick, it's a skill set!) Do an objective check of whether you've let your side of the equation slide. If you're still doing a thorough and professional job, shake it off. No coin comes up heads every time. Statistics insist that everyone have a slow patch sometimes.

Quota is an unreachable number. If your quota keeps changing, it usually is growing. There is a market potential beyond which higher numbers are impossible. There aren't enough hours in the day, or customers in the market to make the numbers required sometimes. This is a very bad sign. It means management hasn't aligned their outlook with current market conditions. It tends to make the relationship between sales and management adversarial. Particularly in organizations where sales pros are also the primary account managers, the more clients you have, the less likely it is you can keep hitting big numbers based on the sheer volume of time it takes to keep your accounts happy.

Your reputation is, well, tarnished. Remember that in sales, it's all about trust. If the prospect doesn't trust you, they won't trust what you tell them. Have you been professional, thorough, and honest in every interaction? The grapevine will bite you in the end. At one happy hour, one of my managers became very drunk, and very belligerent. (Yes, he was old enough to know much better.) Within two months, the company transferred him out of the area with a stern warning: you've made yourself poisonous to the restaurant community once. Any further trouble, and you're fired.He was lucky. Bad behavior has a way of living on forever. You never know who knows each other, or how long your outburst will live in social media. Clean up your act. You have a very public job. It will make a difference!

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