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How to Boost Quota Performance by 11% (Hint: Stop Focusing on Quota Performance)

Posted in:  Highspot News, Sales and Marketing Management

The most important metric for sales, at the end of the day, is quota attainment. The calculation is straightforward: take the total sales that a rep, region, or team closes over a certain time period and divide it by the quota for that same period. As an example, if a sales team meets its quota target for a given period, it would achieve 100% sales quota attainment. If it closes only half of the quota target, it would achieve 50%.

But there’s a few problems with sales quota attainment:

  1. The quick fix for poor sales quota attainment is to get rid of lower-performing sales reps. According to CSO Insights, an average sales team’s annual turnover is around 25%. But, ironically, the quick-fix approach to improving attainment backfires. Sales teams soon find themselves having to hire, onboard, train, ramp, and transition pipeline to a large portion of their constantly churning sales organization. And quota attainment actually suffers as a result.
  2. Sales quota attainment is a lagging indicator. That means some really important things have to happen before a rep can successfully retire quota – like getting trained, delivering the pitch, and engaging with prospects. By over-focusing on quota attainment, these important activities are overlooked.

One reason so many businesses are investing in sales enablement is because they need to dig themselves out of the attrition “churn hole.” They need a more effective way to proactively identify and intervene early in order to accelerate time to seller productivity, improve seller retention, and avoid seller attrition.

But they are also investing in sales enablement because sales leaders intuitively recognize that good enablement is tied to higher sales achievement. In recent years, sales productivity has become the top challenge for B2B sales teams according to a study by The Bridge Group. The acknowledgement is that when sales professionals are efficiently on-boarded, trained, and consistently doing the right activities — such as following a sales playbook — they have a better chance of achieving their sales quota.

But while most sales executives recognize that activity is a leading indicator of sales success, most don’t know what activities to measure or how to measure them. They do know that figuring it out means unlocking big revenue gains for the business that today are trapped in what one Accenture and CSO Insights study refers to as the “frozen middle” — the large number of sales reps and managers (typically 65 to 70% of the sales force) who consistently exhibit average performance. By making even minor improvements in average-performing salespeople, sales teams can increase business revenue by as much as 3.2%.

Highspot customers often tell us that they see material impact in sales performance and productivity across the board — and not just for their top-tier sellers.

While we’d like to believe that’s exactly what our product allows them to do, at Highspot, we aren’t satisfied with qualitative feedback that sounds compelling. Because it’s our business to measure sales and marketing impact with metrics, we also felt it necessary to validate this with usage analytics from Highspot.

In order to determine which specific selling activities were tied to quota attainment and to what extent they impacted it, we worked with our customer base to analyze a cohort of sellers with similar attributes such as industry, sales role, and products sold. We then had to separate the sellers into two cohorts based on their Highspot usage level and activity, defined as follows:

  • Modern sellers: Sellers that consistently achieved high digital prospect engagement with Highspot.
  • Legacy sellers: Sellers with inconsistent or low levels of digital prospect engagement.

We then looked at the monthly sales quota attainment and distribution by each selling cohort. The results showed that approximately 66% of modern sellers perform better than the average seller, while only 55% of legacy sellers were above-average.

The results showed clear validation:

Sales reps that consistently use Highspot to find and pitch content were able to improve sales quota performance by 11% compared to less frequent and inconsistent users.

The big opportunity of course, is to move those legacy sellers that aren’t consistently using Highspot in order to achieve a broad 11% quota attainment improvement across the entire sales population.

Highspot gives sales leaders a resource they haven’t had in their arsenal: full visibility into which activities are tied to better sales performance so they can confidently enable legacy sellers to make the transition to modern sellers and improve sales performance across the entire sales organization.