Why Sales Teams Miss Quota | Top Sales Leader’s Insights



Many companies experienced quota attainment drops in the last decade.

  • In 2011, it was about 64%.
  • In 2016 it was about 50%.
  • In 2020, it dipped below 30%.

That means more than half of sales reps miss their quotes.

For 2020 and 2021, everyone wants to blame the economic downturn that is COVID.

However, the reality is COVID is an excuse. You can always find a way to make something work.

I learned this when I built my first sales team from scratch. I managed a team of 50 sales reps for four years.

In those four years, that’s 48 months; we missed our monthly targets only three times. We missed three monthly goals out of 48 months.

Don’t be naive and think we never faced challenges. Every organization will face sales challenges – start-ups, medium-sized businesses, large corporations – all types.

Remember: you must always find a way to meet the quota. It’s a non-negotiable for me, and it should be for you too.

So, why do many sales teams miss quota?

There are many reasons why sales teams will miss quotas, but here are the top five:

1.   Your sales quotas are set too low

2.   You made hitting quota the goal

3.   You’re focusing on data, not the client

4.   Your team focuses on factors out of their control

5.   You don’t know what motivates your team

Perhaps you’re wondering why my top five reasons for preventing sales quotas attainment don’t refer to the sales process, sales pitch, sales cycle, lead generation, or marketing? Continue reading and find out.


sales team and sales leader

Quotas are set based on historical data.

It is based on what the sales team has already hit once before. Sales professionals use it to justify making “realistic sales quotas.”

However, it’s derivative of poor sales performance.

If you’ve had a poor performance that has allowed you to miss targets, you’re only going to reinforce that poor performance. The new targets continue to support lower benchmarks and lower standards.

Increasing your quota may force sales reps to realize that the old strategy will only work in a previous world.

The result: we may finally come up with new strategies to not only meet but exceed quota and targets.


sales teams and sales proc

Remember, the quota is just the bare minimum not to get fired.

We should not celebrate hitting quota.

Goals make a huge difference because it creates accountability. Your sales reps need goals for every week, month, and quarter.

However, your goals should easily surpass your quota by 20 to 30%.

Rose garden quotes

Your quota is the bare minimum not to get fired; it’s to earn your keep.

Therefore, if quota achievement is 20-30% more than the set quota, if you can only muster up half of that – something’s wrong, and you need to course-correct immediately.

Everyone will miss quota because we’re not trying to go through the quota; we’re trying to hit the quota.

And that’s why you will always land short of it.

In sales, it is crucial to aim for a goal. But the goal is not quota attainment. You don’t punch at the wall; you smash through it.

Rose Garden Team Assessment

Rose Garden Consulting’s Team Assessment assists CEOs and sales leaders improve and optimize sales performance.


sales teams and sales leaders

Everyone puts up a quota and then crosses their fingers, hoping they get there.

They try to calculate the number of cadences, touches, contacts, or activities they believe will get them the edge they need.

Essentially, they create an elaborate science project.

Many sales reps focus on calculating and analyzing data and numbers, searching for the perfect equation to help them hit quota.

Let me tell you why that sales rep missed their sales quota:

They had zero interest in understanding why the client bought from the organization in the first place.

Does your sales team lack industry and customer knowledge?

Your sales team understands this first before they analyze more data:

Why will the client buy?

That is the essential question sales reps need to ask themselves.

Remember, the actual decision-makers within your organization are the clients (both old and new clients), the marketplace, and your competition.

Many salespeople don’t realize this essential factor in their sales process.

If you are losing prospects, your issue is probably related to understanding the industry’s customers.

Many salespeople miss out on this crucial data which helps them guide prospects through the sales funnel.

Without this data, there’s no angle. Salespeople don’t understand that they need to approach it from a different perspective: a customer-industry-specific approach.

You need to create strategies for why your client will buy and how everybody will hit quota.


It’s all about work-life balance, poor mental health, prospects, economic downturn, diversity inclusion… blah…blah…blah.

I have heard it all before. A sales team loves to talk.

Sales reps talk about everything except how and why they will hit their number and make that sales quota.

That is the critical differentiator between a sales rep and sales professionals.

Now, don’t get me wrong, all of these external factors I listed above are important and can impact an entire sales team or an individual salespeople.

However, there’s no reputable study or data that states a sales team is disproportionally threatened by these external factors more so than any other department in an organization.

So, why is sales performance under attack and missing quota becoming the norm?

It’s not hard to understand. We’re blowing problems well out of proportion. Things can always be better.

But when we act like something is the end of the world when it’s not, that’s when we become distracted from the finish line.

Rose garden quotes

Sales reps talk about everything except how and why they will hit their number and make that sales quota.

Does your sales team lack a positive-growth mindset?

External factors take our focus away from creating a positive, growth-minded organization focused on the goals at hand.

And, so as a result, people don’t improve.

They enter into this downward spiral of aggression, where the sales team create excuses for missed targets:

  • “We have poor lead generation (with not enough leads or new leads are poor).”
  • “It is a complex sale, so I need time.”
  • “We haven’t got any new business this month.”
  • “The marketing is not working.”
  • “The prospect is not ready to buy.”

Sound familiar?

The minute your team hits this downward spiral of aggression, it turns toxic.

They don’t level up.

There’s no skill set improvement, and thus, we miss targets.

These sales organizations will stop focusing on what’s needed to grow and create entitlement, hurting team growth.

That is why intensity is needed. It’s not toxic.

You can never enter a competition without limbering up first, getting warm, getting loose.

That’s how a high-function sales team operates.

You need that level of intensity.


sales team with sales leader

The sales leader’s job is to know how to motivate that team. Period.

You might think, that’s easy money.

You’re mistaken.

Most companies will create generous commission structures for their salespeople. However, money is not your primary motivator.

You need to consider “affective motivators” that ensure your salespeople are bought in and hit quota.

For example:

  • stability
  • recognition
  • security
  • performance, and more.

It is the role of the sales leaders to research each salesperson’s affective motivator. As you hire people, your first step should be to find out what truly motivates that individual.

Rose Garden Team Assessment

Rose Garden Consulting’s Team Assessment assists CEOs and sales leaders improve and optimize sales performance.


sales hiring and sales team

Let’s get one thing straight: Meeting quota is a non-negotiable for me. Therefore, missing sales quotas is entirely unacceptable.

As a CEO, if you miss a quota, the first person you speak to is the sales leader. And I am going to be straight; this conversation will be uncomfortable. However, it is essential to ensure unmet targets do not become a standard.

You frame the conversation or feedback in three ways:

  1. Start with the facts;
  2. Address the challenge;
  3. Create actionable next steps from your sales leader.

If your sales leader cannot create a strategy to meet future targets, then it is time to evaluate the effectiveness of that sales leader.

Quota Attainment: Case Study

sales hiring and sales team

In 2020, we had a client at Rose Garden that exceeded quota attainment smashing all targets for that year, despite COVID.

Our client wasn’t in an industry that COVID propped up: not Zoom, Lysol, or anyone else.

The client needed to be on-site with their customers to fulfill obligations. Our client reached out to us worried about how travel restrictions challenged their sales organization, the same as their competitors.

Rose Garden’s first move was to put a contingency plan for this client in place. The strategy allowed them to continue to sell and operate to meet targets.

If our clients can figure it out, why can’t you?

You will always find a reason or an excuse not to do something.

You pay a sales leader to figure out how to find a way, not why you can’t.

Where there’s a will, there is always a way.

Are you ready for your sales team to hit quota (and go beyond)?

sales leader speak with prospect and sales team

At Rose Garden, we are solutions-focused; my team and I ignite companies’ revenue.

We offer Team Assessments, presented in one-day workshops, that assist sales leaders to improve and optimize sales performance.

Using a combination of Kolbe and PRINT® assessments, we identify team-member strengths and motivators and even illuminate weak salespeople’ fits. We Findings are then presented in a one-day workshop.

Our Sales Accelerator single-day assessment evaluates your entire sales organization and operations to create a powerful sales experience.

We evaluate the following to illuminate problems and areas for improvement:

  • compensation structure
  • tech stack
  • sales playbooks
  • sales strategy
  • hiring and onboarding
  • ·formal sales process development and more.


Remember, it’s the sales leader’s responsibility to ensure that the revenue target is hit and that every single team member is contributing to that revenue target.

This means creating strategies, providing support, and sales training to ensure that every person hits their sales quotas.

Every salesperson cannot hit their targets that mean a sales leader is failing them at some capacity.

If you’re a sales leader and don’t know how to meet your quota, reach out to Rose Garden Consulting, and we will deliver some creative solutions.

Know if the solution were in front of you, you would have solved it already. It’s likely something that you cannot solve without support and help.

Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template
Systematically assess your sales leader against measurable sales leader traits and expectations. Ensure your organization’s growth.

About the author:

Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.

Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.

Related Posts:

Are you ready?
We only work with the most determined and passionate leaders. If you want to close more deals, multiply your revenue, and scale your business, we’re ready to take action.

Subscribe to stay ahead

Apply for Why Sales Teams Miss Quota | Top Sales Leader’s Insights

Accepted file types: jpeg, jpg, gif, png, pdf, Max. file size: 50 MB.

Book Discovery Call

Complete the form and briefly describe your sales challenge and we’ll
organize a discovery call.


"*" indicates required fields

Step 1 of 8

1. ➛ Are you aware 73% of Founder led sales teams turnover four sales leaders before finding a competent one?