Advice: "I've been growing my LinkedIn audience like crazy. But I'm still not hitting quota."

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Dear Quota Team,

I've been in sales, in the same industry, for over a decade. Two years ago, I started a new job with a more specialized product and a different account mix than I had before, but overall, I’m still in the same industry.

The company has treated me very well (a refreshing change of pace from my last job), but our lead gen and support systems are a bit of a mess.

I started experimenting with social selling to help myself out. I've built up a good following online, the company loves that I'm doing it, and a few leads have actually come in! (Ultimately all those leads were for other people's territories or product lines, not mine though)

Here's my dilemma: I'm busting my butt (traditional selling and social selling) and the needle is moving up, but it is crawling. There's no way I'm hitting my number this year, just like last year. And I'd never not hit my number before. It's a tough time for the industry, but it feels like I'm just getting pummeled.

Everyone treats me like I'm this huge success though. They see me on LinkedIn and I guess because my face pops up, to them that equals "killing it." My old coworkers rib me about being an influencer, but also gush over how well I'm doing. My current employer doesn't seem to care that it would literally take a miracle for me to hit quota (which was unrealistically high); they love me (and have even given me a bump in pay for my "marketing" work and even given me a small promotion).

It feels like I'm failing for the first time in my career, but everyone is talking like I'm at an apex! Even when I open up about how rough it's really going, people seem to write it off. I feel like I'm going crazy sometimes.

The company really cares about me as a person, and I'm loyal because of that, but at the same time, I don't know how many years I can go on just grinding away while not selling. I'm not losing deals, it's just that no one on my team can get enough people in the pipeline to hit our numbers!

Do you have any advice for maintaining my sanity? Should I switch jobs and go to a place that doesn't care as much about me as a person but has more traction? How do I handle my "success" vs reality? I never wanted to be a "celebrity" but people are (genuinely) hailing me as the "superstar" at work. I just want to sell something...  


Drowning in Location Withheld  


Dear Drowning,

This is a tough one. And there’s some important information missing. Namely: are you making an amount of money that you’re happy with? Because if you are, then the fact that you’re at a place that treats you well, respects you, and doesn’t care whether you hit quota or not is somewhat unusual and maybe a place you might want to consider staying. 

But maybe that’s not enough. Maybe you need to be successful on your own terms, and those terms seem to involve achieving what you believe to be important, not what everybody else believes it to be. 

It does sound like you’re tasked with selling a product which might not have a large pool of potential customers. Maybe you can bring this up to your management and tell them how you’re feeling about your role and that you’re not satisfied. Maybe they’ll want to keep you on in another capacity (marketing? evangelist?), or maybe they can switch you to another line with more deal potential. The point is, you’ll never know unless you bring it up in a very direct way. Don’t let them brush you off or dismiss your concerns. If it matters to you, let them know it matters.      

There also seems to be a case of imposter syndrome here. You are building up your name recognition online, and that is an important skill in this day and age. The problem seems to be, however, that you don’t really want to build a name for yourself. If that’s the case, then why are you continuing to do it? Or is it that you don’t feel like you deserve the recognition? In any case, you need to figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing, and if you have no problem with being an “evangelist” (avoiding the word influencer here), then lean into it and stop second guessing yourself.

The bottom line is you need to figure out what you want. You said you never wanted to be a celebrity. Would it be so bad to stop posting and to go sell somewhere else? Imagine you’re selling for another company, not posting anymore, but not being treated with the same respect you’re getting now. Does that life sound better or worse than present day? Only you can decide what to do, but some changes are definitely in order. Good luck, we wish you well!

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