Doing Away With Quotas

Ah, quotas. Can’t make people like them, can’t achieve goals without them. Or can you?

We recently spoke to a sales executive who told this story:

“Several years ago our sales force for one of our business lines was cut from 25 reps to 15, but the quota went up. The sales leader was bold, and he had some bold leadership traits. He walked in to the meeting and said, ‘I’m doing away with quotas. I don’t know what the right number is. I know you guys are the best of the best and it’s a big market. Now, my number, is $100 million, and there are 15 of you. So you can all go figure it out if you want. But there are no quotas and I’m not measuring to a quota. I want to see what we’re capable of as a team.’

‘And then he said, ‘Give me a list of what’s getting in the way of your success.’ The reps came back and said, ‘Titles,’ so he changed all their titles. And guess what happened that year?  They sold about $127 million, best number ever, highest per person, and we never set a quota for anybody. The organization had a target and there were a certain number of people, but there were no incentives at the target. It was paid off of what you drove home for the business. To some extent he set the people free. It was a powerful enablement, to say to your people, ‘You’re the best of the best, and I just don’t know how good you can be.’ He’s a motivator and a very good team builder, and kind of an impassioned leader. I don’t think everybody can get away with that.”

Could your sales organization get away with it?


To learn more, visit SalesGlobe.

Leave a comment


  1. Notwithstanding the tremendous results as portrayed above, I can’t get behind this approach for the vast majority of businesses. I think that a quota (which has to be reasonable and achievable) is important to provide a framework for compensation that addresses two key thresholds: Firstly, provides good incentive for a rep to achieve their quota. Secondly, provides REALLY good incentive for a rep to strive to over achieve their quota. All of this is balanced with a good return to the company re: cost of sales.

  2. I love the story, but there was one thing that the sales leader might have thought about…. accelerators for over achievement, ie paid a much higher commission rate for any sales over $100M… I bet the results would have been even better than the $127M !!!


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