A sales quota definition can look different for various members of an organization. Account executives (AE), sales development representatives (SDR), and sales leaders may have different sales quotas and complete role-specific activities in order to achieve them, but they all share the same basic sales quota definition. So, what is a quota in sales? In this post, we’ll talk about sales quotas for different roles within the sales org and 4 ways you can strategically coach your people to help them hit their goals.
What is a sales quota?
A quota in sales is a goal, target, and performance expectation set for an individual seller or department during a given time. It can be a measurement of sales opportunities and revenue for an SDR, AE, or sales department as a whole.
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How to Achieve Sales Quota
Now that you know what it is, let’s talk about how to achieve sales quota. It’s a numbers game about hitting metrics and reaching a specific goal, but without proper planning, it may not be that easy. Sales quota planning is about creating a roadmap filled with daily or weekly activities that’ll eventually help you achieve your monthly, quarterly, or yearly goal.
For SDRs, AEs, and sales leaders, part of achieving sales quota is tracking where an account stands in a sales pipeline with key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are a display of metrics to help salespeople see where they stand during their quota period. Some common KPIs to track are email and phone response rates, the number of sales accepted leads (SAL) and sales qualified leads (SQL), and sales pipeline conversion rates. A sales pipeline is made up of the different stages an account goes through before it becomes an official customer, so keeping track of your KPIs can indicate the status of your accounts and where they stand.
Sales Quota Examples
SDRs may have the goal of reaching a certain number of meetings booked with potential customers each month, SALs, or surpassing a specific dollar value of SQLs. Sales quotas look a little different for AEs since their main goal is to close deals with customers. Their sales quota is more focused on reaching a specific annual contract value (ACV) monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Sales directors and frontline managers can set sales quotas at a higher metric, combining their goal for an entire team of sales reps or account executives. A big part of a sales leader’s job is to make sure each participant on their team reaches their quota to positively impact the department’s overall goal.
An SDR’s job is focused on finding potential customers, also known as prospects. Once they have a list of prospects, they call, email, or send a LinkedIn message in hopes of setting up a day and time to meet. Their roadmap may include scheduling as many meetings with prospects as possible and making sure they attend. Sales reps have to be on top of sales quota planning to achieve this goal. A prospect may say “Yes” to a meeting, but that response may be a tactic to get the SDR to stop reaching out. Sales reps must be prepared to provide the value of what they are offering by personalizing their outreach. When they first receive a list of potential accounts, a few of those accounts may not be a perfect fit. Asking discovery questions to determine if the account is a good match is important. The rep’s sales quota isn’t solely focused on booking meetings but is more about ensuring the customer attends so they can move the account to the demo stage and into the hands of an AE.
SDR Sales Quota Examples:
- SALs booked/held
AE Sales Quota Examples:
- Number of accounts in pipeline
Examples of Revenue in Various Pipeline Stages
Sales pipeline stages in order from left to right:
SAL to SQL
$ Demo Stage
30 Days Max
SQL to Close
Last 90 Days
Once a SAL has been completed, the account is put into the demo stage and is marked as an SQL. This solidifies its place in the sales pipeline. A sales pipeline is a snapshot of active accounts, forecasted revenue, and pipeline performance. This is a great way for AEs and their sales leaders to track KPIs. The AE must nurture their pipeline accounts as soon as they receive them since the account can pull out at any stage. When it comes to pipeline stages, moving an account from the demo stage to the proposal/negotiation stage in 30 days or less is important. Ambition’s Vice President of Commercial Sales and Operations, Erin Tomlinson, always tells her team, “Time kills all deals.” Maintaining communication with multiple people from an account to keep it moving through the pipeline will better position you to close the deal with a win.
Most AEs have a quarterly sales quota. A large part of their sales quota planning is creating a forecast of all of their deals, making sure to set up a large sum of them to close early in the quarter. AEs have deals in different market segments, such as velocity, commercial, and enterprise. The different market segments are determined by the size of the accounts they work with, meaning some of their deals will be at a higher dollar amount than others. Using a sales quota calculator is a great way to figure out how much of a cushion a rep should give themselves when attaining sales quotas. One Ambition AE likes to multiply their sales quota pipeline by five, giving them a larger goal to reach. This way, they have a cushion to help them reach quota, even if an account backs out.
Visualizing progress and calculating the right benchmarks are essential to achieving quota. Download this free sales scorecard template to help your team move more pipeline and stay on track to smash their goals.
4 Coaching Programs to Help You Hit Quota
Coaching plays a huge role in sales quota attainment. There are several different ways to coach for improvement, but within the sales world there are four main methods I like to focus on: call coaching, peer coaching, developmental coaching, and pipeline coaching.
1. Call Coaching
Call coaching sessions are one of the most effective methods to help SDRs and AEs hone their skills on the phone or during a video call. SDRs are taught to call several prospects throughout the day and can be hit with different objections. They need to be prepared to handle those conversations, and what better way to do this than by reviewing old calls they’ve made in the past? AEs conduct video calls demonstrating a product, negotiating, and closing deals. Call coaching is a way for them to review the good and bad pieces of each call and can be done individually or in a group coaching session.
2. Peer Coaching
Peer coaching can bring different perspectives to the table when reviewing cold calls. Ambition sales leaders conduct weekly group call coaching sessions for SDRs and AEs so peers can share ideas and learn from each other. Group coaching conversations led by a peer can be even more helpful with sales quota attainment since they face similar challenges in their role. Ambition SDR, Kaitlin Leng, has proven a high sales quota success rate through LinkedIn messaging. She shared her LinkedIn experience and process with her team in a peer coaching session and it has helped her peers achieve the same success. Learning through osmosis is a helpful tool for teams in any industry. This style of coaching provides new perspectives and promotes a healthy work culture where sharing ideas is welcomed.
3. Developmental Coaching
Another type of coaching that can help SDRs and AEs reach their sales quota is developmental coaching. Developmental coaching doesn’t focus exclusively on one specific skill but instead helps individuals grow professionally. One-on-one conversations with a leader are where most developmental coaching happens and is a great way for them to build trust and accountability. In these conversations, leaders get to know who they’re coaching and can personalize that time based on individual needs. Both SDRs and AEs can benefit from this type of coaching, whether done weekly or as a quarterly performance review. The main goal isn’t to get reps to reach a quota by the end of the month, but to help them reach their sales quotas every month.
4. Pipeline Coaching
Pipeline coaching focuses on specific skills that will help drive sales quota attainment. You might work on specific KPIs that are negatively affecting your pipeline or rethink how you are connecting with an account. The sales team here at Ambition likes to use an “emotional bank account” analogy when building a relationship with accounts in any pipeline stage. They compare relationships with accounts to a bank account where you make deposits and withdrawals. Each deposit is a piece of valuable information to help solve problems, and each withdrawal is where reps could be pushing for a decision from an account. Like a bank account, making too many withdrawals can hurt you in the long run! Maintaining a healthy relationship with your prospects and accounts is crucial to keeping your sales pipeline alive.
Sales quota attainment can look different for everyone. Aside from having a standard list of tasks to complete, personal planning is important. Time management is crucial when setting yourself up for success, but making sure you take breaks is just as important. Finding your pace and the proper coaching plan to succeed can help lead to better results.