Unachievable Quotas

goals quota revenue strategy Dec 12, 2023

Let's talk about unachievable quotas. 

Is there anything better than either having a quota that you can't achieve OR having a team that no one hits their number? Of course not but it's way too common. 

Well, a lot of companies are in the middle of their 2024 planning... what numbers will they hit and how many hires will they make to get there? 

Story time... Years ago I was talking with a founder and he was telling me about the quota for his new SDR team… 40 set meetings per SDR per month.

Me: How’s the team doing?

Founder: Julie is killing it. She set 4 meetings last week.

Me: Staring and with confused with what I just heard… she’s killing it at 4 meetings in a week?

Some rough math but if quota is 40 then each SDR needs to be doing around 10 per week.

4 is at 40% of that and should be a disappointment.

Here’s the problem… there is the math of what you need to hit your numbers AND then there is the math of reality. 

What does a quota that is unattainable do to a sales rep… they achieve even less. They start excited, work their tail off, and when it hits them that they will never get there… they lose motivation. They give up and stop pushing so hard. 

When it's a quota that is hard but attainable, they push harder. They can see it and find ways to get there.

Example... let’s say the quota is 24 for Julie and she got 4 in a week. So rough math is 6 per week for quota.

Julie is pumped at 4 and starts thinking about ways she can get 2 more. Even though she has worked hard for the 4, 2 more isn’t out of reach where 6 more (with 10 needed per week) is.

This founder isn’t alone. I’ve worked for series C companies that had their board numbers and assigned quotas based on what number they had to hit. SDR quota is set to some ridiculous number and talk about who is “killing” it and they are at 60% of their number in their best quarter. Not to mention that the average SDR is at 25%.

And this isn’t just on the SDR side… AEs get assigned the same BS quotas. High unachievable numbers would take a Christmas miracle to hit.

The problem I often times see for AEs is that it could be achievable IF they had a smaller team. The reason for this is the available leads and pipeline supports a team of 5 but not nearly enough for a team of 15.

Why were so many hired… well their combined quota is the number that needs to be hit for the goal.

In the end… no one hits their numbers or goals and you have a revolving door of SDRs and AEs and what is blamed… “they just weren’t a fit… we need better SDRS or AEs”

It’s possible they weren’t the right fit but finding the “right” one or 15 of those that can hit unattainable numbers… don’t hold your breath.

What to do about this…

BEFORE hiring… strategy and proven process that is repeatable.

I’ve seen companies double or triple SDR teams and literally spend millions on marketing as their strategy to increase pipeline.

True story results… flat-lined pipeline from before they doubled and tripled their spend.

Why… doing more of the same thing that wasn’t working, didn’t multiply. Their systems and processes in place didn’t support the increased team and volume. Worse… it had the reverse effect ob the market. (hitting up the same leads every other minute doesn't go over well)

Instead, take the approach of nailing it, and then scale it.

For SDRs… do you have a strategy and process that is repeatable? Messaging and methods that work? Knowing the outputs that give the results you want and need. What type of person do you need to make this happen? And the kicker… how big is the market and how many people can this market support?

For AEs… where are leads coming from and how big is the pipeline? I want 3x pipeline… do you currently have that for current team? What’s the current close rate… opportunity to increase this? How are you going to increase?

BEFORE you start hiring, what’s not working and what do you need to fix to have a repeatable process that works? If not, you will see the same problems with the new hires and morale goes down to the dump. 

Bottomline there needs to be a strategy and plan to get to your number and the main focus needs to be on driving more pipeline. Not with adding more bodies, but with real strategies that work and can scale. 



PS... if you are a sales rep or SDR/BDR in one of these situations, don't just run. Find ways to get there. The strategy may not be built for you, but it doesn't mean you can't figure it out. Easy to complain and spend more time bonding over how much it "sucks". Don't do it... find a way to grow and build yourself. You'll thank yourself for the growth instead of all the time you spent telling the "stories" of how horrible it was. 


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