10 Reasons Why You May Not Hit Your Sales Quota In 2018

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Last updated April 9, 2018

We have compiled a list of 10 most probable reasons why you may fail to hit your sales quota in 2018. We are releasing this in Q1, so you still have enough time for course correction and do not have to scratch your heads in Q4 when your prospects are beginning to plan their vacation!


  1. Targets are not realistic - You’ve agreed to the targets your boss has given you w/o your own analysis of market demand for your product/ service 


    How often do you you into a manager who gets his sales targets from his manager and then bumps up the quota to include his safety cushion, before passing it down your throat?Unrealistic sales goals do not just affect the sales rep. They’ve a bigger impact on the overall sales numbers of the company. Here is a HBR article of how higher sales goals lead to lower sales.

  2. You are prospecting and selling at the same time leading to one of two issues : 
    a. You are a good closer but terrible at prospecting 


    Prospecting is a as much an art as closing. The challenge is it entails a different skill set.Many good closers are terrible at prospecting, and there are enough books written on why closers shouldn’t prospect. Leave prospecting to the experts and focus on what you are good at. 

    b. You are a good prospector but terrible at closing 


    Scoring in soccer is no different from closing in sales. If you are not able to convert 1 in 3 opportunities handed over to you, you are probably better off playing defence or midfield and create opportunities for the forwards to close. Choose sales development, demand generation or other opportunities and let the frontline account executives do their magic.

  3. You are focusing on the wrong prospects and your 80-20 stat is looking more like a 90-10 at this point. (i.e) you spend less than 10% of your time with > 90% of prospects that matter 


    You’ve stretched the pareto principle beyond its limit and are spending most of your time hunting unqualified prospects (vegetables !) . As a result, you’ve made hundreds of connections and many think you have a good product but none of them can lead you to your target.

  4. You’ve done way too many mail merges w/o focusing on optimizing your conversion rate.
    In the early stages on the company, everyone is in a rush to capture as much market share as possible. Sales reps need to justify their roles to their founders, founders need to show strong growth to investors, and investors need to justify the investments to their limited partners. Everyone is gunning for strong growth and in an effort to achieve this, reach out to the entire target market in a short span of time.The problem starts after you’ve exhausted reaching out to everyone on your list. Focusing on conversion rate in subsequent reach outs may be too late, as half of your target audience may already have grown immune to your mails.

  5. You have had 3 touch points with everyone on your list and are now either blacklisted by them or end up in their spam folders. 


    On an average, you have three touch points before you can really turn someone off. So make sure you have a different and better value proposition every time you go back to someone that said no the first time.

  6. You are trying to force sell a product/ service that the market doesn’t need 


    It is important to understand if there is a need for your product in the market, and if people are willing to pay the price you quote. While the latter can be handled by tweaking the price and business model, the former may require an overhaul of your product and value proposition to the buyer.

  7. You are competing with an elephant in the room w/o offering a 10x better solution 


    There is no way you’ll be able to do this. If you’ve joined a company that attempts to do so, we recommend you take some time off and rather spend that time with family.

  8. You are a late entrant to a competitive space and are only incrementally better 


    Too many players spoil the broth. Especially if you offer nothing special, it will be very difficult to capture substantial market share.

  9. You are an early entrant and the market is not ready yet 


    The challenge here is that you need to first create awareness, then create demand, and then lobby to fight regulation before you can finally launch your product.If you are able to do all of this, you’ll build a huge moat. To accept any targets before doing so would be akin to attempting to get to Mars without a spaceship.

  10. You are purely focusing on transactional outbound w/o much thought on overall sales and marketing strategy of the company. 


    In order to be successful in the battlefield, you need to have an army backing you. You cannot wage a lone war with the enemy. Similarly, you need to have multiple channels supporting your sales strategy. Marketing needs to create awareness, sale dev needs to create opportunities and, more importantly, the product team needs to create a solid product for which there is a demand in the market. 

    Some of the above pointers have nothing to do with your individual performance or your sales skills, and they are guided by the market demand for what your company has built. As a sales rep, it is important to wield enough influence on your team, so you are able to make changes to the product/ value prop to fit in with customer demand, and to the overall sales and marketing strategy so you are not fighting a losing battle.