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What Percentage of Sales Reps Hit Quota?

This question doesn’t get asked often enough and has major implications. It impacts realistic earnings projections for salespeople, what companies should expect from their new hires’ sales performance, and ultimately, salesforce turnover rates. This topic recently came up in a conversation with Shane Jamison, a tech sales coach who works with earlier stage tech companies looking to scale. Do companies have unrealistic sales quotas? Is the average sales rep below par and thus not hitting sales quota? We invited Shane to answer these questions since he works with both sides and has a unique perspective (and hard data). Take it away Shane…

The truth? Most sales reps are not hitting sales quota.

Hitting sales quota in 2023 has been rough. How rough?

According to a recent survey by Salesforce.com (9/30/2023), only 28% of sales professionals expect to hit quota in 2023. Looking specifically at tech companies, Repvue data shows that the percentage of reps attaining quota has steadily declined. In Q3 2023, only 42.8% of sales reps hit their quotas.

What’s behind the drop in quota attainment?

During the boom times, the focus on topline growth meant hiring more and more people to produce results. Easy money was pouring in from investors, and this massive flow of cash helped sales reps hit their sales target.  In 2022, the market swung the other way. The huge inflow of funds dried up, and the focus shifted from hiring at any cost to efficiency and profitability. Despite these seemingly tougher times, many sales organizations raised or held quotas constant to drive revenue. This left sales managers looking to their sales reps to perform and sales professionals questioning the quotas given to them by their employers.

Are companies setting unrealistic sales quotas?

In my conversations with hiring leaders, they tell me that many reps don’t have a fire in their bellies.

“We need ‘A’ players. These candidates want something handed to them.”

Reps are telling me that companies don’t care.

“I’m drowning in tools and processes, then get no coaching to get better.”

Both sides have lost some trust. In my experience, repairing trust happens when both sides take control of their responsibility.

Companies need to be better at hiring. They must also help their team hit quota by unlocking hidden potential through coaching.

Reps must get uncomfortable, learn new sales skills (the ones from 10, even five years ago, don’t work anymore), and build successful habits around proven sales methodologies to improve performance.

The Hiring Gap.

Let’s be honest: hiring is tough. There are a tremendous amount of jobs still out there with a historically low 3.6% unemployment rate.

Here’s what both sides can do to bridge the expectation gap.

Companies – Become an “A Company” to Build an Elite Sales Team.

This starts by getting better at hiring. 

Most sales organizations have some questions to ask and a process for hiring in place, and that’s about it. Often, it’s the same process created when unemployment was much higher, and companies held the cards. Today, a great process should be treated as people coming together to solve a problem and find out if they can help each other. 

Reflect on how you could have asked better questions. What insights could you have shared that would have resonated with the candidate? Have you invested time in uncovering the critical skills required to excel at the position? Have you invested in your processes to become better, more accurate interviewers? Better hiring processes equals better-hiring results (and higher average quota attainment).

Fair Sales Compensation Plans.

Next, set quotas that are realistic. Few things appeal to new recruits more than a team hitting quota, as it’s the key driver in sales compensation plans that are fair and attainable. It’s also a crucial ingredient in team morale and reducing turnover.

Commit to Recruiting.

Great companies follow Nick Saban’s (Head Football Coach at the University of Alabama) approach by devoting one day each week to it. What would your team and company look like if you did that?

  • Treat it like a sales process, and you’re trying to close the deal.
    • Discovery – Demo – Close.
  • Do the prep work
    • Know what you’re looking for beyond the resume.
    • Get crystal clear on how this person would behave and act.
    • You wouldn’t treat a prospect’s discovery call like an interrogation; why would you treat a candidate like that?
    • Spark the fire in them — If you’re interviewing an A-player, they likely aren’t looking. Behaving like you and your company are the prize they want will turn them off.
      • Like an outbound lead, give them a reason to want you. Understand what an A-player wants and share insights about how you’re building a team they want to be on. Ask questions to get them thinking about being in the role. If you were here today, how would you approach selling to our customers? Our best sellers take this approach; what are your thoughts?
  • Be open to interviewing candidates who are actively looking.
    • A lot of great sellers were let go within the last year. That’s not their fault.
      • Many companies had unrealistic targets.
      • They didn’t have an effective onboarding process in place. 
      • They were not a high-performance team.

Sellers, Own Your Path.

The market has shifted. Employers aren’t mindlessly throwing money at hiring anymore. Low performers have burned employers, which is why they are focused on only hiring A players. If you’re considering making a move, what should you do?

  • Print your numbers – Be able to show proof of your success in hitting your annual number. After the first interview, send the hiring manager your brag book to reinforce your candidacy. This will put you in a strong position.
  • Know what you want.
    • A bigger paycheck isn’t a great reason. 
    • Be clear on where you’re going, how you’ll get there, and how you’ll both benefit from you joining the company.
    • Take ownership of your career decisions. If you made a poor career choice in the past, learn from it. Why didn’t it work out? Make sure your next employer is a great fit for you.
  • Know the type of person you like to work for.
    • Who was your best boss? Why?
    • Just as you’d get crystal clear on the buying persona you’re selling to, do the same for your future boss. Without question, working for a great boss will help with quota attainment.
  • Treat the hiring process like your sales process.
    • Prepare – Do the work. Understand the company, where you could add value, what you could bring to the organization, and how you’d benefit and grow at the company.
    • Discover
      • You’re vetting them as much as they are vetting you. Be prepared with thoughtful questions. Understand their pain and what they’re looking for in the right person.
    • Demo
      • Connect the dots for them. Please share stories and experiences highlighting how your characteristics, behaviors, and habits would solve their problem. 
    • Ask smart questions.
    • Close
      • Align on the next steps; it’s best to get something on the calendar, just like you would for a meeting.

The hiring process allows you to “show,” not “tell” the Company who you are. You’re selling yourself. Research the company, understand its initiatives and goals, identify the problems that could prevent them from reaching their objectives, and multithread in the organization by reaching out to other employees to gain insights. All of the above are steps in a sales playbook that you can apply to your process.

Sales Managers – Coaching Helps Build Sales Teams.

The stats reveal that few sales teams only have A-players. On a team of six, I’ll see a couple of stars, two or three “B-Players,” and someone who’s not a fit. 

The goal is to ensure that every puzzle piece fits nicely into the bigger picture so the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

When done well, each person will maximize their full potential within your playbook. It’s a winning formula that starts with coaching. High-performance teams begin with a culture of coaching.

You may believe you’re already coaching, but there’s a massive gap between what leaders and talent perceive. Consider these stats.

  • 80% of sales leaders say they coach
  • Only 48% of reps say they receive coaching.

We need to align on the facts when we are that far off. First, understand what coaching is. It’s not about the company; it’s about the individual. Work with them to realize their goals and potential through your company, systems, and processes.

It’s easy for leaders to confuse a deal review or pipeline review with coaching. The problem is these are about the company rather than the talent. Just because you give a strategy or tactic to use during a review doesn’t mean you’re coaching them. Ensure you’re there to help them achieve quota and maximize their compensation.

The above are some of the reasons why 40% of reps don’t believe their boss has their best interest at heart.

Talking with an experienced group of Sales Leaders the other day, I asked why sales leaders, CROs, VPs, Directors, etc. are not coaching more? We narrowed it down to three reasons.

  • They don’t have the skill because they didn’t receive good coaching themselves.
  • They don’t have the time. They spend most of their days putting out fires and managing the pressure of hitting their sales target so they can keep their job for another quarter.
  • Some care more about their number than their reps. 

In my experience, Coaching moves the needle more than anything else! 

A Study by Manchester Inc. that targeted Fortune 1000 execs coaching increased:

  • Productivity by 53%
  • Quality of Delivery by 48%
  • Organizational Strength by 48%
  • Customer Service by 39%
  • Exec Retention by 32%
  • Bottom-line Profitability increased by 22%, and
  • Job Satisfaction by 61%

An investment in coaching often delivers outsized results. When your sales team hits quota, they also hit the sales compensation plan’s income target. This decreases turnover and increases rep tenure. And nothing makes it harder for a sales manager to hit their quota than leading a team of rookies.

“60% of reps were more likely to leave their job if their manager was a mediocre coach. – CSO Insights”

Sales Reps – Own Your Career to Hit Quota.

Talent can no longer wait for employers to invest in their success. Luckily, many resources and people are sharing best practices to help you get better on your own. Invest in leveling up your sales skills. Sales leaders share their best strategies, tips, and tactics on social networks like Linkedin and YouTube daily; follow them.

If you’re not getting coaching from your leader, invest in coaching on your own. It will help you hit quota and separate yourself in future interviews. Imagine how blown away a future boss will be when they hear that you paid for your own sales training. 


Results start with the person in the mirror, whether a sales leader or professional. Invest the time it takes to find a great fit and fully commit once you do. 

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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. Our posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

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