Sales Quotas Definition Types

Published on October 28, 2023 by Sawyer Middeleer

Sales Quotas Definition Types

Sales quotas have been the bedrock of sales success for as long as businesses have sold products and services. They are a staple in measuring salespeople’s performance, projecting revenue outcomes, and keeping the sales process on track. Quotas are, simply put, a sales target set for a particular period - typically, a month, a quarter, or a year. They are the benchmarks against which salespeople and teams gauge their success and organizations measure their growth trajectory.

In this comprehensive exploration, we’ll take a deep dive into the complexities of sales quotas, dissecting not just what they are, but the multifaceted types that exist – each tailored to drive specific outcomes.

What are Sales Quotas?

Traditionally, sales quotas are a set figure – whether dollar amounts, number of units sold, or a number of new accounts opened – that a salesperson or team is expected to achieve in a given time frame. They are used for:

  • Motivating sales teams
  • Evaluating individual and team performances
  • Identifying areas in need of improvement
  • Forecasting future sales
  • Aligning sales targets with organizational goals

Quotas are central to the incentivization structure within a sales organization, often directly linked to the compensation of sales personnel. Achieving and exceeding sales quotas can lead to bonuses, commission increases, and other incentives.

Types of Sales Quotas

Sales quotas come in various forms, each tailored to a different aspect of the sales process. The following are the most commonly implemented types:

1. Volume-Based Quotas

Volume-based quotas are the most straightforward and are measured by the number of units sold or the total sales volume generated. This might be the total number of software subscriptions sold or the total value of consulting contracts secured. Volume-based quotas push sales reps to make more sales without necessarily considering profitability or customer satisfaction.

2. Profit-Based Quotas

Profit-based quotas are set with a focus on the profitability of sales rather than just the number or value of products sold. Sales reps might be tasked with achieving a certain profit margin, incentivizing them to make sales that are profitable for the company. This type can encourage reps to upsell or cross-sell to increase the value of each sale.

3. Activity-Based Quotas

Activity-based quotas do not measure the outcomes of sales activities but the activities themselves. These quotas might include the number of calls made, meetings set, or proposals sent within a certain time period. They are particularly useful for encouraging and tracking the efforts of new sales reps or in new territories where building a pipeline is the priority.

4. Revenue-Based Quotas

Revenue-based quotas are centered on the total revenue generated through sales. They are often used in conjunction with other metrics, such as customer retention rates or average deal size, to ensure revenue is being generated sustainably and profitably.

5. New Business Quotas

Focused on growth, new business quotas measure the ability of salespeople to acquire new clients or sell new products to existing clients. This type of quota can be crucial for startups or companies looking to expand quickly.

6. Account-Based Quotas

Account-based quotas are assigned with focus on specific accounts. Salespeople are tasked with either acquiring certain named accounts or achieving specific targets with existing accounts. It's especially effective when combined with a strategic account planning approach.

7. Combination Quotas

Combination quotas integrate multiple quotas to create a more holistic sales objective. It combines elements such as revenue targets, certain activities (like client calls or demos), and profit margins to incentivize a balance of sales quantity and quality.

The Importance of Sales Quota Types

Choosing the right type of sales quota is critical. It can direct sales activities, drive the desired behavior from the sales team, and ensure they are in line with the broader company strategy.

For instance, a startup seeking rapid market penetration might prioritize volume-based or new business quotas. In contrast, a mature business aiming for sustainable growth might emphasize profit-based or account-based quotas. Activity-based quotas could be most productive in times of market downturn, keeping sales reps engaged and building pipelines for future sales.

Selecting the right mix of sales quotas also impacts sales morale and turnover. Unrealistic or misaligned quotas can lead to frustration, burnout, and high turnover rates amongst the sales team. Careful consideration, clear communication, and occasional adjustments are necessary to keep quotas fair and effective.

Moreover, the type of quota set can reflect and shape company culture. Profit-based quotas might cultivate a bottom-line-focused culture, while activity-based quotas could nurture a culture that values effort and persistence. A company that values customer relationships might lean towards account-based quotas that encourage nurturing long-term client partnerships.


In summary, sales quotas are much more than figures against which a sales representative’s performance is judged; they are a multifaceted instrument that, when used correctly, can steer the sales force and company toward well-rounded success. By understanding and strategically employing different types of sales quotas, businesses can tailor their approach to meet organizational goals, motivate their salesforce, and ensure a thriving, sustainable sales operation.

A comprehensive sales platform like Aomni can significantly streamline the management and tracking of various sales quotas, aligning them with real-time analytics and insights, and allowing businesses to adapt rapidly to changing market conditions or sales dynamics. With the right tools and strategic quota planning, the path to achieving consistent sales excellence is clearer.

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