Find Out Which Sales Reps Will Blow Their Year-End Quota Now

Sales expert Jim Keenan explains why you don’t need a crystal ball to predict which sales reps are going to make their sales quota and which aren’t.

Predict which sales reps are going to make their sales quota and which aren't.
As VP of Sales or Head of Sales, making quota is your job. It’s the sole purpose of your existence. Therefore, knowing whether or not your team is going to make quota as early as possible is critical.
It being January, I’ve spent much of the month with my clients evaluating their sales plans. Much of this time is spent sitting for hours on end listening to sales rep after sales rep explain how they’re going to make their number for the year. The return on these hours? I know who is going to make their sales quota this year and who isn’t.
What I’ve learned after years of listening to reps share their sales plans is that there are three types of sales people:

  1. Those who know how they are going to make their number and can articulate it well
  2. Those with some loose idea
  3. Those who have no idea

1) Reps Who Know

Those who know are very clear what challenges lay in front of them and have devised a strategy and plan to execute. They know what needs to be done and why. They are clear at the beginning of the year what goals, strategies, and approaches they will use to get to their number, and their strategies and approaches are specific and measurable.
Those in the know spend their time executing to a specific strategy designed to increase the probability of making their number. They have a plan and execute to it.

2) Reps with a Rough Idea

Those who have a rough idea think about what they need to do, but don’t write it down and don’t spend adequate time evaluating why what they think they need to do is accurate.
They leverage past experience and success, operating from a, “It worked for me last year, it’ll work for me this year” mentality. They leverage what they know, put their head down, and do what they’ve always done.
The problem is, when things change or their approach no longer works they’re dead.

3) Reps Who Have No Idea

This group is bigger than you think. They have no idea how they are going to make quota. They just go. They put there head down and start doing shit. They make calls, they meet clients, they read, they do everything (and nothing). Essentially, this group throws a lot of stuff against the wall and hopes something sticks.
Quota can be made this way, but not because of the sale person. It’s because the environment allowed it to happen. The sales person got lucky.
Those who don’t have a clue tend to work harder than everybody else, because they have no plan, and everything is made up as they go. Quota is missed most often by this group.

The Majority of Salespeople Fall into the ‘Rough Idea’ and ‘No Idea’ Categories

They put their head down and go. They give little thought to approach or strategy. They don’t take into consideration the unique challenges they will face, mainly because they don’t see them ahead of time.
They don’t plan for the environment. They don’t create unique and effective strategies to address their unique selling challenges or opportunities. Most salespeople, even the most committed and willing, don’t know how they are going to make their number. They just start running in the direction of quota, reacting to anything and everything that gets in their way.
This is the way quota is often made, and for millions of sales reps and heads of sales it’s been this way for years.
The problem is too much is left to chance, and for you as a the sales leader that’s not okay. As a result, it’s almost impossible to see who is going to make quota and who isn’t and why. Therefore, quota attainment ends up being a surprise at the end of the year.

Don’t Wait to Find Out Who Is Going to Miss Quota

Today, more than ever, it’s not okay to not know who is going to make quota in January. Yes, I said in January. As Head of Sales it’s imperative you predict with a high degree of accuracy who is going to make their number and who is in jeopardy of missing their number at the beginning of the year, not at the end.
In order to know in January who is going to make quota requires everyone on the team to create a plan. You have to force the team to think about how they are gong to make their number. You have to require they share what strategies they are going to employ.
How are they going to prospect? How are they going to penetrate six new logos? How are they going to grow the account from 3 million to 4 million? How are they going to grow their territory? How are they going to increase margin? How are they going to increase average deal size? How, how, how?

Critique, Evaluate, and Assess

Once the team has built their plans, sit down and listen to everyone (for larger organizations this means direct reports and one layer down). Critique, evaluate, and assess each plan for probability of success. Assess the assumptions, evaluate the strategies, dig into their initiatives, and ask yourself these questions; “Will this plan, if executed, be successful? Does this sales rep have a clue how they are going to make quota?”
If yes, then you are headed in the right direction and you can start feeling comfortable today that quota is probable. If the answer is no, you’re in trouble. But then again, it’s only January and you can fix it. You have plenty of time to respond.
As the VP of Sales or head of sales it’s your job to make your salespeople think. It’s your job to challenge their plans. You have to be able to see the path to success in January, not December. Sales is a journey to quota, therefore you have to know how your people are going to make that journey. Otherwise, at the end of the year you’ll find only a handful of your team made it, and the rest are saying, “I knew I shoulda taken that left turn in Albuquerque.”
To make sure your team has a plan that’s going to work download our GSIT Template (Goals, Strategies, Initiatives and Tactics). There is no better tool to separate the wheat from the chafe when it comes to identifying who knows how they are going to make quota who doesn’t.
Editor’s note: This guest post from sales expert Jim Keenan originally appeared on his blog, A Sales Guy.

Do you know which of your reps are going to make their sales quota and which aren’t? What’s your secret to finding out?


Jim Keenan
Jim Keenan
CEO & President

Jim Keenan is founder and Senior Partner of A Sales Guy Consulting. He has over 15 years of sales and executive sales leadership with particular experience in sales process, and sales team development. Prior to that he was also founder and CEO of
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