I just returned from a week in Montego Bay, Jamaica with a group of about 100 people representing the highest sales achievers at Marco. When I was a full-time sales guy, it meant I had hit my quota and was in the top quartile of performers in the company. It’s a trip that I have come to look forward to each year and I know others do, too.
As CEO, I continue to see the value in hosting a sales quota trip. While it does require a significant investment, it’s definitely worth it. The trip has been an essential part of our sales culture and a key driver of behavior. People want to make it, and it’s no fun staying back when you don’t.
The quota trip each year demonstrates our commitment to being sales focused and keeping score. Typically about 20 percent of our sales team earns the annual trip. What started as a group of about 15 people now is around 100, including a guest of each quota achiever and our leadership team. (One of our attempts at a group picture below).
So, what makes a quota trip drive behavior so effectively? It needs to be attainable, strategic and fun. Here’s what I mean:
Make it attainable…
The effectiveness of the trip starts with setting a fair quota for each member of the sales team. Too often, this is where organizations misstep. Sales quotas don’t need to be created equal.
We want this trip to be an incentive that’s within reach of those who put in the work. We know that the product they sell, where they sell it and how long they’ve been doing it matters. We have 230 sales reps and work with each one individually to establish their yearly target.
We take into account these key factors:
- Past performance of the individual – We want our team members to continue to grow and perform to their ability.
- How long the individual has been selling – We work to make it within reach for even our newest reps. About 10 percent of our salespeople with three or less years of experience have earned the trip. Occasionally, some achieve it in their first year (we love it when that happens).
- Market share and location – We know it is easier to sell in one of our mature markets with an established client base, compared to one of our newer markets. We also consider their geographic location. A rural market, for example, naturally has a lower potential volume than an urban market.
- Product profile – The type of product and its status in the marketplace impact the ability to sell it. Some products and services have a higher price tag, target enterprise-level clients or naturally generate a higher sales volume. We want all our product categories to perform so we set quotas accordingly.
- Industry growth rates – There are external forces at play. Some solutions are growing faster than others. We want to lead the curve in the high-growth areas and recognize some may actually be in decline. The growth rates of an industry impact potential.
Make it strategic…
Earning the quota trip also requires the sales reps to support our strategic focus. For example, to grow our Managed Services practice, we assigned a quota to cross-sell into their existing account base. We want our sales team to collectively drive strategic outcomes for our business, and we found the best way to accomplish that is to make it part of their sales quota.
Make it fun…
From the day we arrive on the trip, we’re intentional about the experience. We host an informal meeting and reception for team members and their guests to mingle and get to know one another.
We take care of the transportation, accommodations and meals. We make sure the location has a variety of activities to engage in if they choose. It’s up to the individual members on what they want to do. They control their schedule and who they hang with. We set a casual atmosphere and want it to feel like a vacation – not work.
I make it a point to organize dinners with small groups to personally connect and get to know them better. The networking and team building comes naturally.
Make it an honor...
The quota trip has become a badge of honor within our organization. Earning it appeals to the majority of our sales team. Once you make it, it’s something you never want to miss.
I’m often asked what it takes to create a high-performing sales culture. One way is to offer an annual quota trip. This supports the theme, that until we sell something around here, not much else matters. We get back far more than we spend; and those who attend feel it’s priceless.