Setting Personal Quotas

Published On: March 17, 2023By Categories: Business Management, Unbound Sales Growth Columns

Finding the goals that motivate staff members is the key to them achieving success.

By Carole Mahoney

How do we keep our teams motivated and accountable is a question we often ask ourselves as business owners. But when times are tough, it can seem almost impossible to do.

It may seem like everyone is pessimistic about the future right now, which is why guiding your staff members to identify and share their personal goals is all that much more important.

Did you know that data from two million sales professionals showed that those with personal goals written down, shared with others, and held accountable made those salespeople 298% more likely to be top salespeople? That is the best of the best.

But how do you get your teams to even think about their personal goals when they are feeling negative about future possibilities?

Holding People Accountable

I have some thoughts on that after getting my son and husband to shovel our driveway.

We have been hammered with snow this year in Maine. We recently got more than 18 inches in a matter of 24 hours. I needed to get our driveway shoveled before it froze and turned into a complete block of ice. ASAP.

My husband and son weren’t too happy about it and stalled for as long as they could even though they knew it needed to be done. Finally, they begrudgingly donned their winter gear and headed outside.

So, how did I motivate them to do something they knew they needed to do? Before I tell you that, let’s call out the elephant in the room on how not to do it.


Quotas are about as motivating and exciting as getting up eager to pay your taxes and student loans in the morning.

Thankfully, I knew what motivated my husband and son. I strategically placed full cans of beer at certain intervals throughout the driveway to motivate them to finish. Seriously!

These were milestones that became accountability cues for them to hold each other to. Both of them got the reward at the point when they had both reached a milestone.

Before I knew it, they were cheering each other on, and the entire driveway was cleared in no time!

Setting Personal Goals

You can do the same for yourself and your team. If you’re a manager or a team leader, ask your staff during your reviews:

  • What are their personal goals?
  • What does meeting that goal mean for them?
  • What does it allow them to do in their life?

Now you may find, as I do when I work with coaching clients, that their personal goals—or their personal quotas as I like to call them—are much higher than the company’s quotas. And once those are identified, you can then work with each staff member to develop a plan to get there and achieve them.

You’ll work with them to find out:

  • What skills do they need to develop to get there?
  • What mindsets are holding them back from doing what they know they should?
  • When do they need to see these results in order to hit their personal goals?
  • What milestones will tell them they are on track?
  • How will they celebrate success along the way?

Then have them report their progress with you regularly in your one-to-one meetings. Your job will be to find small quick wins and rewards for them as they take steps towards their bigger goals. Yes, this is just as I did for my husband and son with the full cans of beer in our snow-covered driveway.

Encourage your team members to share their goals with each other so that, like my husband and son, they can cheer each other on and keep each other motivated and accountable.

Different Forms of Motivation

Not all motivation looks the same. As you share your own personal goals with your team, they will be more likely to share theirs with you. You will likely find that not everyone is motivated in the same way, by the same amount, and other differences.

For those who are extrinsically motivated, they look to outward things such as buying and having things. There is nothing wrong with that; to each their own. For them, having small rewards to celebrate will be important to help keep their motivation going.

Whereas others who are more intrinsically motivated focus more on being the best, or the joy at doing it right. They are motivated by the joy of the task itself. They may need help to see how they can measure improving on a skill and celebrating those incremental improvements.


When you help your team understand the why behind what they are doing, the tasks can become more enjoyable. Work with them to develop their plan of action to get there—and then you will no longer have to nag them with the tasks.

Mahoney Offers Tips on YouTube for Sales Leaders and Sellers
Unbound Sales Growth columnist Carole Mahoney provides tips for sales leaders and sellers on YouTube. Past topics have included how to get over fears and have better conversations, how to become a top salesperson, and cognitive behavioral tips to sell on value. To watch these videos and future ones, visit Mahoney’s Linktree webpage and click “YouTube” in the drop-down menu.
Have a Sales or Marketing Question for Mahoney? Let Us Know!
Is there a sales or marketing issue that you have wondered about for a long time? Do you wish you or your team had a technique for better closing sales or promoting your business and its products and services? Unbound Sales Growth columnist Carole Mahoney can help. Email WWJ Editor Thad Plumley at and he will arrange for Mahoney to answer your question in a video at

Carole Mahoney, as the founder of Unbound Growth, has coached Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial MBA students on sales and been featured as a top sales coach by Ambition and Sales Hacker. You can contact her directly at

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