Execution Quotes: Quota and Goals (A Sales Guy Book Club)

The biggest gap in sales is quota and quota assignment. Quota is almost  always dolled out willy nilly, with little understanding of the market or what the executionorganization is capable of doing. Usually, the organization has picked some arbitrary revenue number and pushes it down to the sales team with an edict that it must be made. We’ve all seen how this works out and what it does for moral.

I love how Larry and Ram address this in the book.

The gap between promises and results is widespread and clear. The gap nobody knows is the gap between what a company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability of their organization to achieve it.

It’s critical organizations create goals that are achievable and that everyone knows what it’s going to take to accomplish. When this doesn’t happen, goals are missed and working/selling harder doesn’t solve the problem.

In an execution company’s operating review, the leader will want to know if the goal is realistic. “Fine,” she’ll ask the manager, “but where will the increase come from? What products will generate the growth? Who will buy them, and what pitch are we going to develop for those customers? What will our competitors reaction be? What will our milestones be?” If a milestone hasn’t been reached at the end of the first quarter, it’s a yellow light: something’s not going as planned and something will need to be changed.

Imagine how much more accurate quota setting would be if leadership up and down challenged numbers in this fashion every year?

I recall one year, while sitting at the sales-kickoff, the CEO and CSO stood in front of 5 thousand sales people and told them that we were going to grow 20% this year and that it was going to be a big year. I remember being shocked and looking over at my boss and saying are they high? The economy was in the tank, it was October of 2007. We hadn’t launched a new product. We weren’t penetrating any new markets. We hadn’t had that kind of growth in more than a decade. There was no evidence at all, internal or external that suggested we’d be able to generate that kind of growth. Yet, that’s what they put on the sales team. As you can imagine, not only did we not hit the numbers. They were so drastically off in 2008, the had to cut everyones quota by as much as 50% halfway through the year in order  to give people a fighting chance. It was a catastrophe. It didn’t need to be. The writing was on the wall, if they knew how to execute.

Being realistic about your goals and how you get to them is key being able to execute and get stuff done.

Conceiving a grand idea or broad picture is usually intuitive. Shaping the broad picture into a set of executable actions is analytical, and it’s a huge intellectual, emotional and creative challenge.

Everyone can come with an idea or a goal. Know how to achieve it, now that’s impressive.