Attention Sales Managers… Is Your Quota Breath Holding Your Sales Team Back?

Bad sales managers push two buttons: ‘more’ and ‘panic.’ Great sales managers have one more button to push: the ‘how’

-Chris Lytle

I’m not knocking you sales managers… I know you’ve invested a great deal in creating sales strategies to help increase your teams’ win rate. I know you’ve heavily invested in helping your team get customers interested in your company’s brand.

What you may not realize is that pushy month end and quarter end sales tactics are usually perceived as ‘cheesy’, ‘tacky’ and ‘old school’, and are driving your customers away instead of pulling them in.

In a survey several years ago, the American Management Association asked buyers what they dislike most about salespeople.

The results, in order, are as follows:

  • Being too pushy (24% of respondents)
  • Not taking no for an answer (23%)
  • Not listening (18%)
  • Talking too much (9%)
  • Baiting and switching (8%)
  • Reading from a script (7%)
  • Using meaningless jargon (5%)
  • Upselling (4%)
  • Impatience (2%)

Customers hate it when salespeople hammer away at them, trying to close a deal. Nothing creates resistance faster than the old hard-sell, especially at month, quarter, or year-end.

Accept the fact that your clients and prospects are savvier and more educated than ever before, especially when it comes to choosing products and services to fit their business needs. They’re well versed in technology, have plenty of ways to research your business on their own terms, most importantly, they know there’s an abundance of competitive options out there besides yours.

Prospects and clients both crave a sales professional who’s knowledgeable about their business and that can provide an outstanding experience. They loathe salespeople who lead with their wallet and reek of commission breath.

Who stands right behind a commission breathed sales rep?

Sales Managers and Quota Breath

A quota breathing sales manager (aka commission breath) hammers on their sales team to get a deal at all costs. The desire for commissions and overrides is so immense that sales reps are driven to irrational behavior, saying things that do not align with their core beliefs. Come the end of the month, quota breathing sales managers surround their sales team like sharks circling their prey.

These managers focus on ‘do whatever it takes to get the deal’. The first half of the month they’re coach, educator, and a caring leader; come the last half of the month they turn into Dr. Jekyll as they reign terror without guilt or fear of consequences. Their motive is quite clear: make themselves and their numbers look good, as opposed to doing what’s right in the minds of their client or prospect.

Sales Reps Can Smell Quota Breath

Stop treating sales goals as the only set of metrics. When you teach and preach to your sales team to push sales aggressively at all costs to meet a particular target, you’re basically telling them nothing else matters. Your team, in turn, starts emulating this. They lose focus on meeting customers’ needs as they launch into using sales tactics that may annoy or even anger your customers.

Achieving numbers is important, I get it! Goal-setting helps your team to stay focused and keeps your boss off your back, but prioritizing a sales target over customer experience metrics will create frustrating situations for your entire sales team and the people they serve, your clients

Your sales reps are smart people. They can immediately detect your quota driven breath as you enter the sales bullpen. Showing up to Monday morning meetings and starting off with an insincere opening line such as, “I hope everyone had a great weekend” as you immediately launch into asking the same old school question, “What are you going to bring in…” leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Sales managers who start a meeting talking about what everyone is going to close, stink up the sales bullpen. Sales managers who push their team to use outdated, old school and ‘all about me’ closing lines stink up the sales bullpen.

If the ultimate goal is to provide an outstanding customer experience, then ‘throwing everything at them and seeing what sticks’ at month end will not help you succeed.

Warning Signs…

I know all of you have a heart. Set aside the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde approaches. Your clients and prospects deserve a sales professional who’s knowledgeable about their business, cares about helping them and can provide a great experience. I guarantee you this, they’ve heard all the month end close speeches, so stop it!

Look in the mirror and ask yourself…

  • Am I focused more on the results than my people?
  • Am I investing in regular proactive coaching?
  • Am I being motivational in all the wrong places?
  • Am I barking orders at them or truly speaking to them?

Meeting Your Client’s Needs

If your sales reps are not focusing on your client’s needs at each point of their interaction, they will drive your clients away.

When you focus all your attention on sales metrics you’re failing to meet the very needs of each one of your clients, and you’ll risk losing them altogether.

Make it your priority to engage your sales team throughout the month. Truly get involved in their weekly sales lives, and in their client facing meetings. Truly care. More importantly, get out of the office and experience what your sales team goes through on a daily basis.

If you would like some inspiration, I welcome the conversation or send me a message to Your comments are greatly appreciated.



This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse and has been adapted for use on this blog with kind permission of Larry Levine.

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