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Sales Ops FAQs: How to Minimize Backlash When Communicating Higher Quotas

Telling your sales reps that you raised their quotas can be tricky but, done right, you can preserve their support and motivate them to meet their new goals. Two aspects are key: fair quotas and open communication. You can minimize backlash by helping your team understand the new targets and the reasons behind them. 

Did an unexpected market event trigger the rise? A territory reassessment? The first step in getting your reps involved is to keep them informed.

It there a right time to communicate higher quotas?

Yes – as early as possible. As expert Josh Horstmann from https://salesbenchmarkindex.com/ explains, as soon as the new quota is approved, it’s time to tell your reps.

The more time devoted to answering reps’ questions, the more likely they will understand what they have to do and why. This leaves them more likely to get in line with the goal and direction.

Despite this well-known reality, only 21% of companies manage to communicate quotas before the start of the fiscal year, while 46% do so in the first four weeks of the fiscal year, and 33% communicate after the first month, according to a WorldatWork study.

The same research says 81% of companies start the quota-setting process at least two months before the start of the fiscal year. So, even if most organizations start early, very few achieve a quick roll-out. Bureaucracy and internal process inefficiencies are the main causes, and sometimes they may seem tough to avoid. But the bigger the delay, the stronger the backlash.

What is the best way to communicate higher quotas?

A classic face-to-face chat is still the best. Allowing sales managers to take the time to announce quotas during one-on-one meetings with reps can often times prove beneficial. This lets them observe reactions, take notes, and address salespeople’s concerns.

Meeting in person also shows you are open and transparent. Mail, internal social networks, and other digital solutions can help you update your team and fill in communication gaps.

Gamification can also stimulate competition inside your team, as well as add an element of fun. Announcing a contest with your initial quota rollout, or even based upon first-quarter or first-month results, helps keep everyone driving towards the right goal. Offer an exciting prize then track progress with an updated, visually attractive leaderboard that everybody can see.

What if I need another review, well into the quarter or year?

If it is possible, avoid quota adjustments.

It can be extremely demotivating for your reps to receive higher quotas just weeks before the end of the quarter. It’s like changing the rules during the game, and it leaves them with very little chance to succeed. They will not appreciate it.

Over 80% of companies say they never or rarely adjust quotas. However, another review sometimes becomes unavoidable. Most companies blame disruptive changes in the market, coverage models, and errors in quota setting for unplanned quota increases.

So, timely and empathetic communication can help minimize backlash to higher quotas. But employee satisfaction is not all that is at stake over the long term. For example, if quotas are too ambitious, they can drive unwanted behaviors, like pushing the wrong product in the case of reps with multiple products in their portfolio.

And at the end of the day, don’t forget to keep a close eye on quota attainment. If most of your reps are missing targets, there is most likely a problem with the goal setting process, not the reps themselves.

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