Most sales professionals are measured by established sales quotas and targets. Marketing, operations, engineering, and general/ administrative overhead usually are tied to corporate revenue forecasts. When sales quotas are missed, the entire company must realign budgets to manage the loss of revenue captured.
The general model for evaluating salespeople in terms of quota success is:
• If a rep hits 100% or more quota –management doesn’t care how difficult they are, they will learn to deal with it.
• If a rep hits 90% of quota – management still thinks the rep is a good person and they want them on the team
• If a rep hits 70% of quota – management talks about taking the rep to the back room and often put them on a 30 or 60 day workout program.
• If a rep hits 60% or less of quota – managers may say it’s time to say goodbye.
Here are the top 23 excuses I have heard directly or indirectly from my clients when I consult with them about why they cannot or will not achieve their sales quotas. And yes, these are real – and some of them are even legitimate.
1. My sales quota is made up in some dark room somewhere – it’s a joke.
2. I get paid enough in base salary, so I don’t need to hit my sales quota.
3. Don’t tell my boss, but I hate sales. I’m just hanging out earning my salary and benefits until the right thing comes along.
4. No matter how hard I work I’ll never hit quota – no one ever has, so really it’s just a number that we all know is not real.
5. No one asked me about my quota – management doesn’t have a clue what happens out in the real world. I can’t ask for help either as my manager just messes up my calls and makes promises that I am stuck with.
6. It’s hard to work to something that makes no sense. And whenever I ask about my quota they tell me to “go get ‘em” or “you can do it” and walk away. Oh yeah, and then they say “let me know if you need any help”.
7. In our company when we get close to quota they change the number. I don’t think they really want to write any bonus cheques.
8. The guy in the next office hit his sales quota by holding on to one gravy account. Why should I work any harder than I do?
9. I made a lot of money in real estate so I’m really just trying to keep busy.
10. I’m dating the president’s daughter so I don’t have to sell. (True story)
11. My hands are tied – I can’t sell what we can’t deliver so I just don’t understand the pressure to hit numbers that simply aren’t going to happen. They tell me to sell more, but then refuse orders.
12. I have worked 30 years in sales and this is my last job. I’m tired and frankly comfortable coasting.
13. My boss told me to do “what ever it takes” to get the business – I got the business, hit my sales quota but got punished because the margins weren’t high enough.
14. I am planning to get a new job in a year or two, so I’m just waiting to get two years of work on my resume to make it look good.
15. Our product/service doesn’t work – it’s not my fault no one wants to buy it.
16. I’d like to see my boss make these numbers. Maybe if our management team were out in the field more they’d understand how ridiculous these numbers are.
17. My boss is a jerk. He gave the best accounts/territories to his buddy.
18. I would have hit my sales target but my boss messed up my biggest deal by interfering.
19. I’m the only salesperson in my company and my boss does not want to sell, so I don’t have to hit my assigned sales quota.
20. Even though I have a quota, I am not really in sales. I’m more of a customer service person.
21. Our competition will always outsell us – their prices are lower and the sales reps get a budget for things like hockey games, fishing trips, dinners…
22. My spouse makes more money that me, so I don’t really need to hit any particular number and the base pay here is pretty good.
23. I have a great management team. They don’t measure performance so I don’t have a sales quota.
Yikes! Is there a better way to motivate your sales staff to new heights? Absolutely! But only for those willing and able to consider an alternative approach that is not for the faint of heart.

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