Importance of Sales Quotas in the Recruitment Process

Crawford Thomas Recruiting Blog

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Sales quotas represent a specified minimum target, which the management of sales companies sets for every sales unit within their organization. These sales units range from the individual salesperson, the sales manager, the regional office and so on. Sales quotas are also time-specific and may be set either in monetary terms or in volume e.g. based on the quantity of goods sold. The quotas are essential in that they provide the sales company with a means of evaluating and comparing salespeople on a uniform plane. Additionally, they provide salespeople with an additional incentive to give their best especially if they also determine their income.

Since the main purpose of sales quotas is to influence performance, they are set for every area in which the salesperson is expected to perform. Consequently, during the recruitment process, they provide a great way for sales candidates to present themselves and their past sales experience in an accurate and objective manner.

Sales Quotas and Recruitment

In fact, the subject of recent sales quotas is often brought up by the recruiting team in a bid to find out how the sales candidate performs; as well as what he attributes that performance to. For instance, it may come up in the form of a question like:

In your most recent sales position, were you consistently able to reach your sales quota?

    • If so, what in your opinion was responsible for this on your end?
    • If not, what do you think you could have done differently in order to hit your sales quota?

These questions are very specific in that the recruiter wants the candidate to take responsibility for their achievements. In other cases, the follow-up question may be more open-ended. For instance (If the candidate was not able to consistently meet their sales quota):

What in your opinion is responsible for this?

Here, the recruiter is giving the sales candidate the opportunity to take responsibility all by him/ herself. The interviewer wants to see whether the candidate will shift blame to the company, management or the quotas. During recruitment, it is important for sales candidates to be careful not to deflect blame or responsibility on to any other parties. Even if it is true that for instance, the sales quotas were set too high and not based on fact, bringing that up as the reason for not meeting them sounds more like an excuse than a reason, and salespeople who make excuses are very unattractive to any company.

At the same time, for information on sales quotas to be viable during the recruitment process, it is important for the recruitment team to do research on the company from which the candidate is coming. This is essential in order to ensure that the sales quotas that they are using as a reference point were set accurately, and that they therefore provide a good basis on which to evaluate the candidate. Failure to conduct research in this area can lead to either:

Failing to recruit an exceptional sales candidate who did not meet their previous sales quotas because the quotas were poorly set.


Recruiting an unsuitable candidate whose sales quotas were met due to their being too low.

Qualities of Effective Sales Quotas

Here are some qualities of sales quotas that can be used as a reference point during recruitment:

  1. Easy to implement and adjust as circumstances change either within the company or for a specific sales unit.
  2. Fair to the salesperson, management, clients and the company as a whole.
  3. Based on fact and attainable; as opposed to being a source of frustration.
  4. Clear and easy to understand.
Crawford Thomas RecruitingImportance of Sales Quotas in the Recruitment Process