Blog Article

What can sales teams do if they’re behind on their 2014 sales quota?

Posted by Michael Vaccaro

Michael Vaccaro

Second half plans for your sales team

So, how are sales so far this year at your organization?

As I write this, we’re waiting to hear how the initial Q2 GDP numbers look.  After frequently hearing about how optimistic companies were at the end of 2013, the poor economic figures in Q1 were disappointing, even if they were largely explainable.

Most clients still seem optimistic about the second half of the year.  But many are also behind their YTD sales targets, and will need to do some catching up.

If you’re in the same boat, you may be involved in a debate that usually breaks out in the sales organization at this point: should we provide quota forgiveness or stick to our original targets?

Both sides of this debate have valid points.  On one hand, the company is going to bear the consequences of missed sales targets no matter what, so why shouldn’t the sales team feel the pain as well?  On the other hand, should the sales team bear the consequences for market-wide fluctuations that are out of their control within their paycheck? Is it better to show empathy, provide a break and “go get ‘em“ during the rest of the year?

While it’s easy to get bogged down in a philosophical debate, there are some ways to take action that might be attractive to both sides:

  • Adjust the weight of various performance metrics in the incentive plan that determine final incentive payouts.
  • Redefine performance against sales targets to be relative rather than absolute. For example, if the company was supposed to grow by 5 percent, but only grows by 3 percent — how did different sales team members do as compared to the 3 percent?
  • Determine the critical team members that need to be retained and set aside funds for bonus awards to this group.

Alternately, you could take actions that aim to make up the lost ground during the second half of 2014,  for example:

  • Create a short-term incentive that focuses on boosting specific sales objectives.
  • Ask your top sales team members to generate ideas for raising overall sales; or, ask them to form a SWAT team to go after a specific market opportunity.
  • Direct the sales team to emphasize efforts in customer segments you know are lucrative, and give less priority to smaller or longer-term opportunities.
  • Plan a communications campaign – sustained, and through different media to explain why the business is performing poorly, what this could mean in terms of bonus awards (set expectations), what management is doing to address the poor performance and what the sales team should do.

And even though it’s vacation season, you might also start very informal conversations about sales priorities or initiatives for 2015.  That way, you’ll be ahead of the game when the annual target-setting and incentive design cycle starts in earnest, and maybe have some ideas at hand for how to be ahead of the plan halfway through next year!

Informal poll:  Are you ahead of plan, at plan, or behind plan so far this year?

 

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