Anyone who has been on variable compensation has had their tryst with quotas. Most of them are standard run-of-the-mill goals like hitting a revenue goal, generating pipeline or having several meetings. They have a singular focus of getting reps to hit their numbers.

While these metrics have stood the test of time and work well for most organizations, the needs of today are different and require more creative goals around the other activities that sales teams focus on. 

Hitting quota might be the outcome you may ultimately want to land but there are other goals that, as sales and operations leaders, you need to keep a check on. They will, for sure, help with the long-term success of your sales organization. 

I have summarized a few goals below which can be a great addition to your current quotas and bring changes that can help organizations do more than just hit their goals.

1. CRM hygiene and the elusive forecasting accuracy

Starting off with the big one. Many operations professionals have dreamt of a day when the data in their CRM is clean and complete. But, we don't live in utopia, do we?

Reps are always hustling to make their numbers and, to put it politely, don't see this activity as a productive use of their time. Therefore, there is a lot of fluctuating pipeline numbers and incorrect or incomplete customer information.

Inaccurate data leads to inefficient decision-making and loss of opportunities whilst also affecting your forecasting accuracy. 

By putting CRM hygiene as an objective for your reps, you can help nudge things in the right direction. And as they say in fairytales, some dreams might just come true. 

How do you track and incentivize this goal?
  1. Have review meetings every month. It can be as simple as ensuring pipeline accuracy before the meeting. 
  2. Keep fancy dashboards that check for pipeline accuracy or updates 2 times a month and keep those reports to ensure that you track their progress on that. 

2. Consistency bonus: the breakfast of sales champions

Anyone who has ever worked in sales or a related function has seen the end of period sales rush. It is in fact so common that organizations plan for it and  allocate additional manpower to the sales supporting functions to manage it. 

To anyone trying to understand this, take a look at the quota run rate chart for your organization over a sales period and you will notice the spikes at the end. 

But does it have to be this way?

The tendency of human nature is to find reasons and excuses to justify not doing the work. It’s not uncommon to find many reasons to postpone doing what we know we should do. You need to find just one really good reason to do it. Says Weldon Long, Experienced Sales training Leader.

Incentive compensation is first and foremost a tool to shape sales behaviour and introducing incentives that reward reps for being consistent can help change the revenue flow.

Begin by setting milestones to hit across the sales period like monthly milestones for a quarterly target for additional bonuses. This rewards reps who have a consistent process no matter where they are in their sales period and encourages others to do the same as well.

How do you track and incentivize this goal?

Keep a recurring bonus that gets applied for every month/quarter of consistent quota attainment. This bonus itself can get 2x every subsequent quarter or a lesser multiple if it is the subsequent month. And this consistency need not be just based on quota attainment. You may want them to consistently add pipeline, or social sell to a target audience or even focus on not losing a customer to onboarding mishaps.

3. Customer Onboarding: the deal ain’t closed until the customer is happy.

One of the top reasons for customers to churn from products is incomplete onboarding.

The product teams are always busy cooking up shiny new features but a majority of the customers never use them. When asked why, the answer is usually “We didn't know the product could do that”. 

It is imperative that customers be made aware of the full capabilities of your solution and incentivizing reps for it can dramatically reduce churn.

If not, you risk leaving a lot of value for your customers on the table. That could mean the difference between being a partner on your customers journey or a service in their rear view mirror. 

How do you track and incentivize this goal?

Unlike the other goals, this one might actually require a stick instead of a carrot. Customers that churn even before going live will affect a rep’s clawback. 

If it happens due to bad implementation, then penalize 5% of deal value on top of it. It may sound harsh but in reality, it is much cheaper for you to keep the customers that you have acquired than to go after new customers. 

4. Referrals from Customers: sales assists

A great onboarding experience can make your customers happy and do you know what's better than a happy customer? More happy customers!

All customer-facing teams should aspire to deliver the best value to their customers. When that happens, customers are willing to introduce you to other prospects and organizations.  An endorsement like that at the start of an opportunity can set you up for success.

However, it is possible only when sales reps put in that extra effort. So having a goal for referrals as an additional incentive can align reps to execute accordingly. This specifically holds importance for your Account Managers who shouldn’t just be focused on expansion but rather leverage their relationships to open new opportunities. 

How do you track and incentivize this goal?

The Account Manager gets a quota relief of upto 20 to 40% of every new logo that they help generate opportunity with. Why not 100%? You want them to focus on their core expansion goals and not deviate completely from that.

5. Community and social media participation: the age of social selling

Selling is hard and it's getting harder everyday. No doubt about that. If I were to say that old methods of email campaigns and marketing don’t work now I would get heavy resistance from many people who are successfully executing these methods. But even they would agree that it has become tougher since prospects are bombarded with these messages on every platform possible. 

Before LinkedIn and other social networks, in the sales world, ABC stood for Always Be Closing. Now, it means Always Be Connecting– Jill Rowley , Fund Advisor, Stage 2 Capital and Ex-Chief Growth Officer, Marketo

The only way to meaningfully engage with them is through communities and on social media such as Linkedin where prospects themselves reach out for inputs. 

Successful reps are already ahead of the curve on social and have a big presence in these watering holes. But, if teams were incentivized to actively engage in such communities and better yet generate content, it can be a game changer for your organization. 

Having an active goal for linkedin engagement (# of connects, # posts etc.) can help move the sales organization to a more personalized sales approach.

How do you track and incentivize this goal?
  1. Linkedin SSI (Social Selling Index) is a rating given by Linkedin to every account. Hold your rep accountable for this rating and keep a target  based on where they start every quarter. It is on a scale of 1 to 100. 
  2. There are a lot of communities for every product and every industry. Your reps need to be out there on the frontlines in all these communities that exist on linkedin, slack or discord and add value to the community. This in-turn will eventually not only build your brand but also generate opportunities.  Incentivize them based on the number of opportunities generated through community engagements. 

You can either run them as SPIFs or make it part of the compensation plans.

You have my word! These hot five, if implemented consciously, do wonders in bringing about change that will shape sales behaviour and tackle more than a single dimension of merely hitting numbers.

Acknowledgements : Thanks to Samra Taban for editing the blog. Thanks to Aravindh Natesan for the designs.