Regardless of how they performed last year, sellers are now thinking about the 2016 “number.” Sales leaders should quickly build confidence in sellers that the formulation of the 2016 quotas is done, done fairly, and sellers are set up to win in 2016. Sellers should trust that the process was fair and balanced, and is based on a sound, quantitative input. Good preparation moves the sales organization away from the emotional saga of quotas and shifts focus to the sober one-on-one conversations about individual goals. How can sales leaders best communicate 2016 quotas? Here are 5 messages:

Assure sellers the quota-setting process is sound:  Let sellers know what goes in to the quota-setting and allocation process – share some of the analytical rigor. Communicate how both historical and potential data modeling, with manager input in some cases, supports the 2016 numbers. Message to sellers:  Organized.

Communicate improvements to quota setting: Explain the formal process and how that process has improved from last year. Articulate these changes and any other changes, such as a new comp measure, that might require a new quota method. Sellers like to know that it’s not the same old process from last year. Let them know that leadership is striving to do better… something like, “We’re not perfect, but we’ve adjusted our methods for better seller results.”  Message to sellers:  Continuous Improvement.

“Pre-communicate” quota expectations:  Communicate general expectations right away to sellers for the coming year. Given a typical span of control, first-line managers should be able to invest in a short conversation to give their direct reports a general sense of 2016’s expectations. Messages about new account targets, introduction of any new measures, or phrases such as, “about a 5-7 percent overall increase,” or “$1.3-1.5M,” are all easy and serve as considerate precursors to the upcoming quota “sit-down.” This alleviates stress and keeps sellers focused on getting off to a fast start.  Message to sellers:  No surprises.

Schedule the one-on-one meetings:  Easy. Ensure that all managers have a date and time with their subordinates. Also, this should occur before the annual sales kick-off meeting. Sellers ought not to be distracted by thinking about their quotas during the sales kick-off meeting. Sellers should focus on strategy and enablement of selling at the larger sales meeting. Message to sellers: Planned

Have a plan for HOW to communicate quotas:  The one-on-one conversation about the “number” is serious. Ensure managers prepare thoroughly and communicate in a consistent manner. New accounts, new measures, transparency of process around the number, and other supporting elements should be included. The ultimate objective here is to promote confidence and a pathway to success. Yes, the hill can be climbed. Message to sellers:  Achievable.

During the beginning of a new fiscal period, many dynamics are taking place that will impact quota communication, such as changing last minute shareholder expectations, territory and account assignment adjustments, final EOY sales and financial results, to name a few. Communicating quotas can get rushed amidst the shuffle. It is essential to have an anchored and simple preparation for communicating quotas and to stick to it. Sellers are thinking about the 2016 number. Sales leaders need to give sellers the confidence that they are too.

Learn more about building effective quotas and our Sales Quotas practice.


Insight type: Article

Industry: Cross-Industry

Role: C-Suite, Sales and Marketing Leadership

Topic: Sales Quotas

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