Operating as a Post-Quota Salesperson

Quotas are created to give sellers something to strive for. However, sometimes they serve as stopping points. After a while, bonuses and incentive commissions lose their effectiveness, and hitting quota (or even coming close) is recognized as "doing enough." 

When you feel like you've done enough, you stop. Some even sandbag. (You wouldn't want expectations to be too high next year, would you?) Gaming the system in this manner does a disservice to everybody involved and prevents the exponential growth that only the best sales organizations ever see.

Sure, there are times in sales when budgets are met, quotas are fulfilled, and goals are exceeded. We’ve all had our moments where we took a deep breath and felt accomplished (at least I hope you have), but the best salespeople are never “done.” 

A few years ago, I actually noticed I become a different salesperson after I hit my number every month. I lightened up. I took more risks. I had more fun, and I made more sales. Yep, not only was I a different salesman after I covered my goal, but I was a better one. Counterintuitive? Only if you're thinking about quota the wrong way, and most of you are.

Sales goals are created for lots of reasons. Primarily because organizations need to set targets and expectations for their reps, and accountability is most easily driven by a clear number. Somewhere along the way, that number was construed as a motivator. Incentives were placed on achieving it as if it was more than an educated guess still practically pulled out of thin air.

Salespeople are encouraged to hit that number not because it represents the lifeblood of the company, but because they’re told they’ll make a few extra bucks when they hit it. This only furthers the belief that salespeople are mercenaries and belies almost any opportunity for a company to build loyalty in their team. As targets are inevitably ratcheted higher over time, the team starts to wonder if there isn't a better way (or a better place) to do things.

I think the way quotas are perceived in many organizations is dystopic. The average salesperson sees 10% growth baked into their number for the year and grumbles about it. Sure, your target may differ, but if you build loyal customers in a healthy pipeline (read as: do your job), and your company is doing their part by expanding the product portfolio, then why should that number even matter?

The delta between where you are now and where you need to be is often just a couple of good customers. You were going to bring on a few of those this year anyway, right?

I'm not here to beat the drum of "it's never enough" or "the counter gets reset on the first of the month," but I am here to say that momentum is precious, too precious to give away. The flywheel takes a lot to get moving, then once it is actually working for you, it's ridiculous to voluntarily abdicate that inertia.

So, when you hit your quota, don't hang 'em up. Keep going. Not because there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but because it provides for the sustainability of your success.

I had a conversation recently with a top performing inside sales rep who has a personal quarterly goal of bringing on 10 new customers. In a good quarter, she'll bring on 12 or 13, but that doesn't reduce her expectations of the next one. Instead of lowering the bar to eight new clients and slowing not only her momentum but also her pace, she keeps that target at 10.

Four good quarters in a row and she's essentially created a fifth quarter's worth of new customers (50 vs 40). Not because she hustles harder, but because she refuses to give up the momentum that she worked so hard to create. A funny thing happens when you stop focusing on the end of the month. It's almost as if you're given more months.

So no, I'm not going anywhere, and neither should you. There's never been a better time than right now to create a Q5.