In sales, you might be inclined to think quota is everything, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably the single most important factor of your job. But the number of salespeople who have never missed quota is very small. It comes with the territory. So what distinguishes the salespeople who miss quota once to the salespeople who miss it all the time? Their attitude.
Something you’ve probably heard of before is a growth mindset. This is an attitude which is defined by curiosity, learning from your mistakes, and looking forward rather than backwards.
When you miss quota, it’s crucial to approach it with a growth mindset. Don’t look backwards or wallow. Look ahead to the next quarter. Get curious. Take the loss like a person who’s not going to lose again.
If you find yourself feeling mostly self pity, anger, or despair, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. We’d recommend this adjustment before you meet with your boss to talk about next quarter.
And a constructive attitude isn’t just important for hitting quota itself.
It matters for your job security as well. A sales manager is exponentially more likely to keep a salesperson who missed quota on the team if they feel the salesperson is approaching the problem with a constructive attitude.
In the long term, your missing quota may be the moment in your career that defines how your manager views you. Did you change and crush your next quota? Then your manager is going to go to bat for you hard the next time you make a mistake.
If you miss quota and don’t seem interested in changing your approach? You might find yourself being shown the door surprisingly quickly.
When Fortune 500 companies miss revenue targets, they don’t shrug and move on. They pick apart their quarter and track down every single factor that led to the failure.
Take a cue from this. No salesperson ever failed for no reason. So meet with your manager and dissect every decision that got you to this place. Be harsh, but be fair.
What went wrong? What went right? What would you change if you could go back? Would it have been enough? What was your fault? What wasn’t?
These are the kinds of questions that will help you change your behavior next quarter and become a seller.
A successful person isn’t someone that doesn’t make mistakes. A successful person is someone that never makes the same mistake twice.
So you know what went wrong. Great. Now sit down with your boss and make a plan.
How many calls are you going to make each day? What changes will you make to your overall sales approach? Was your missing quota a failure of pipeline or failure of closing? What changes to your pitch skills will you practice?
You missed quota because you made mistakes, so how are you going to fix them? Don’t leave this up to just yourself. Work with your boss to answer this question and you’ll be ready to start improving fast.
When you’re making a big change in your sales approach, you’re going to want someone that’s invested in your success. Usually, this will be your sales manager, or if you’re an AE, your VP of sales. But sometimes it can be a high performing peer. No matter who it is, in order to hit quota, you’re going to want to have someone who can show you the ropes and help you change.
This can also help with feelings of discouragement and loneliness when you miss quota. Sales is a team sport, and it’s important to remember how much your success matters to other people. So work with someone, and if you aren’t offered a mentor, ask for one.
A sales team that punishes you for trying to grow isn’t a sales team you want to be involved with, so work with your boss to make a plan, and make sure you have a mentor along the way.
A mentor will also be there to help you when you fail to stick to your game plan. Nobody can hold you accountable like someone you look up to.
Odds are, only some of your team missed quota last quarter. If all of them did? Run for the exits.
But in the event you work on an average-to-good sales team, you’re going to have lots of successful peers who could help you. For all the hooplah about sales being a cutthroat industry, every rep has been there before, and countless peers are going to want to help you.
So ask for help. Ask for advice. Talk to everyone whose work you admire and see if they have any tidbits of wisdom to give you. Is your boss listening to your calls? If not, ask them to.
It can be easy to think of a sales job as sink or swim, but your company wants you to succeed. So use all the help available to you, learn from your peers, and sell some product.
When you take a big loss, one of the hardest parts of getting back up is trusting yourself to win. But once you’ve determined what went wrong, you’ve got to trust that a new approach is going to work.
Miss quota because your pipeline was too small? Don’t be shaky-handed about expanding it. Hustle for leads. Throw 100% of yourself into building out a healthy leads pipeline and trust that that will change things.
At this point, you should have already determined what went wrong in your previous quarter. So take action and do so confidently. Have you
found every single mistake you made? Then fix them, and trust that if you make no mistakes, you’ll hit or exceed quota.
This is an area where having your peers help you is crucial. Even if you stick to your plan, you’ll probably have feelings of self doubt. But with your peers behind you checking your work, you’ll be less likely to wonder if you’re screwing things up somehow. It takes a village to hit quota.
There’s a saying Ernest Hemingway coined when asked how he went bankrupt. “It happened gradually, then suddenly.” This can be applied to almost every salesperson that ever missed quota.
A command fallacy salespeople can fall into is the idea that they’re going to catch up on deals late in the quarter. This is a fantastic attitude to have if you are trying to find yourself days away from the end of the quarter scrambling for deals, only to miss quota anyway.
If you’re interested in hitting quota however, you’re going to want to go into the quarter hard and go out easy. Act like an A student. Do you want to finish the assignment at 3 am, or do you want to go to bed at 10 knowing you crushed it.
So work your hardest at the start of the quarter. Build a can’t-fail pipeline of promising prospects. Track down every lead. Don’t rest until you’ve got a feel for the quarter and are well ahead of schedule, and even then, it couldn’t hurt to keep going when you’re up.
This will also help with your mental health. Being behind quota is a stressful white noise machine in the back of your mind. You’ll sleep a lot better in the last month of each quarter if you know you’re going to make it.