What To Do When Quota Attainment Falls Across A Growing Sales Team

What if quota attainment is falling across your entire sales team? It’s not just one or two poor performers; almost everybody on the sales team is struggling to hit their numbers. When multiple sales team members miss their numbers, it is time for the sales leader to dig in.

Restoring Sales Productivity Step By Step

A rapidly growing sales team may miss its sales targets. To ensure you pursue the right solution, accurately diagnosing the problem is vital. Without this skip, you risk focusing on symptoms and surface-level solutions. To ensure your improvements will last, you must treat the root causes of sales team underperformance.

Step 1: Diagnose The Problem

You can use a few techniques to diagnose why multiple salespeople are falling short of their quota goals. Start by gathering information from your customer relationship management (CRM) and related systems.

  • What is the historical trend of quota performance?

Some organizations tend to see fewer sales in the summer and then ramp up performance in the fall and winter months. Check how the last two quarters compared to the company’s historical sales patterns (including 2019, the pre-COVID year).

  • What is the level of sales activity? 

Sales activities like prospecting, running meetings, and following up are critical predictors of success. Your CRM may have information on these figures. If sales deals take six months to close, look at prospecting levels from six months ago.

  • What are the patterns for wins and loses?

With this question, you’re aiming to determine what is working so you can build on those wins. For example, you might find that your salespeople have the highest win rates in the small business category while institutional and government sales wins are lower. 

  • What broader changes in the environment are impacting customers?

Look to identify factors that are making life difficult for customers. In mid to late 2022, many technology companies have come under increasing pressure to cut costs. As a result, selling to the tech segment is getting significantly more difficult in the short term. In addition, review feedback from prospective customers for patterns. For instance, if one-quarter of lost deals care caused by objections to your standard contract or payment terms, then it may be time to offer more flexibility.

Step 2: Analyze The Causes of Performance Problems

The next step is to analyze the contributors to reduced performance. Generally, it is best to start with factors your sales team can control or influence. While it is helpful to understand broader economic trends like interest rates, inflation, and GDP growth, focusing too much on these factors may discourage proactive responses.

Factors your sales team can control include the level of sales activity, sales skill, and use of company resources. With a sales team growing rapidly, the organization’s onboarding and training programs may have fallen short. Failing to provide adequate support and training to a growing team often leads to underperformance.

In addition, the sales leader may be able to influence other company factors like pricing, payment terms, financing, and product features. Delaying price increases, offering greater flexibility on payment, and other changes can go a long way toward lifting sales win rates.

Keep working on this step until you have at least three to five root causes of sales underperformance and emphasize causes your sales force can influence.

Step 3: Validate Your Understanding With Conversations

A sales leader who has overseen a rapidly growing sales team is at risk of losing touch with each individual. You might have had individual one-on-one meetings with your sales reps when you had five people. When your sales force doubles or triples in size, staying connected gets more difficult.

It’s time to go beyond the data and reports. In this step, your focus is to ask your sales reps about the decline in quota attainment. As you go into these meetings, aim to keep an open mind on what your sales team tells you. In particular, look for systematic issues that may be holding your sales team performance.

If your sales reps are reluctant to speak about performance difficulties, the following prompts may help to open up the conversation.

  • Which part of the sales process is working best for you right now? (This question helps your sales reps to identify what’s working well)
  • If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about how the company operates so that you could sell more, what would it be? (This question is designed to encourage new ideas, so don’t be surprised if you hear some unusual responses).
  • What is one change you could make next week or next month to improve your sales results?


As a leader, your responsibility is to equip the sales team to succeed. For example, the sales team may need more insight into new products and capabilities your company is releasing. That lack of knowledge may hold the team back from winning. Solving that knowledge gap between sales and the product department could be as simple as offering a monthly update session between sales and the product department.

Step 4: Spark New Excitement For The Next Quarter

With your knowledge of the root causes of low performance, you’re ready to chart a path forward. There are two aspects to consider: a new team-wide goal and targeted performance plans.

Failing to meet a sales quota in sales can be highly demotivating. To counter this disappointment, consider setting a new, smaller sales goal for the next quarter. Alternatively, if the problem lies in inconsistent sales activity, you might establish a sales contest focused on outbound sales activity for the next 90 days.

It’s also important to have performance conversations with the underperforming members of your sales team. In these conversations, bring data to make your case. Explain your concern about the failure to meet quota and any related information (e.g., CRM reports suggest that you’ve made 5 sales calls per day on average for the past 60 days while the team-wide average is 20 calls per day). Allow the underperforming sales rep the opportunity to reflect on the situation and present a plan to you to increase their performance. After you receive their plan, set up a schedule to meet with the sales rep weekly or biweekly to monitor their progress.

Step 5: Reassess The Year’s Sales Plan & Engage With Your Peers

In some situations, you may need to reassess the reasonability of the overall sales team’s quota and revenue goals. If economic conditions are causing sales cycles to increase significantly, the sales target you set 6-12 months ago may not make sense anymore. 

Meet with your leadership team, including the CFO, to review revenue expectations. Your recommendation to reduce the sales goal will be more credible because you can also point to your coaching work. 

Leverage Outside Support To Reinforce The Sales Team

Even with the best coaching, systems and encouragement, some people need to be more suited for the sales profession. To rapidly grow your sales team with proven sales professionals, contact Peak Sales Team RPO Search. We can help you rapidly grow your sales team!