February 14

Who Do You Want Me to Assign Your Sales Quota To?


Years ago, I was conducting a sales management workshop in which a sales manager shared her frustration with a salesperson that was running behind plan. They had developed and agreed on a sales goal. The sales manager was prebriefing and debriefing sales calls, but none of her good advice seemed to sink in or get applied. 

I gave the sales manager a different coaching question to ask the salesperson: Which salesperson on the team do you want me to assign your missed quota to? 

This coaching question sends a clear message: The sales quota must be hit.

The sales manager was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the salesperson changed his selling behaviors. He wasn’t about to have a teammate carry the burden of his missed goal!

This question creates thoughtful conversations with your sales team, centered on thinking like a CEO. When a sales manager and salesperson agree to a sales goal, they deliver the promise of achieving the goal to the CEO, who in turn starts making decisions around the overall company budget. Decisions such as purchasing new equipment based on revenue projections for the year. Upgrading technology or hiring more people to support increased sales.

When salespeople don’t achieve their goals, more money is simply not printed to pay for expenses incurred. (Sorry, but your company is not the government.) The CEO or CFO has to find the money. 

Teach your sales team to think like a CEO. Where is the money going to come from to pay for expenses that were planned to be covered by achieving your sales goal?

Teach your sales team no-option thinking. The goal must be achieved. Period. 

This type of thinking probably evolved from my growing up on an Iowa farm. You have two seasons in the agriculture business to make your “sales goal,” which are spring and fall. Spring is when you plant the crops, kind of like prospecting, and fall is when you harvest them, similar to closing the deal. 

Mother Nature is usually uncooperative in both seasons, bringing rain or snow that impedes the progress of planting and harvesting. But here’s where it gets interesting. Growing up, I never heard anyone say, “It’s raining too much; we can’t get the crops in.” “There is too much snow; we can’t get the crops out.”

Farmers just seem to have no-option thinking instilled in them. The crops will get in and out. They may have to work 18 to 20 hours a day once the weather clears up to achieve the goal, and that’s what they do. They don’t have an option. The goal must be hit. Period. 

Sales managers: Teach your salespeople to think like CEOs and embrace no-option selling behaviors when it comes to achieving the goal.

Good Selling!


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