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Imagine an American football team. Now imagine that team starting a football game with only nine players on the field. It doesn’t matter who wins the coin toss, the team with too few players is going to get rolled over. It doesn’t matter what their strategy is, it doesn’t matter what plays they run, and it doesn’t matter how good their coach is, they don’t have the right number of players to play the game and win.

Imagine a sales team with 11 players, each of which has a quota of $2,000,000 annually. If they’re short 2 players, everyone making quota (however likely or unlikely that may be) leaves you $4,000,000 short.

You can’t add $450,000 to each of the other team member’s numbers, and you can’t hope that a couple of them win enough to make up the difference. Your top producers will carry part of your poorest performing salespeople’s number, but you can’t rely on them to carry double their quota in addition to that. There also isn’t anything you can reasonably rely on to help you overcome a headcount deficit. There’s no sales process or methodology, no shiny object, and hope isn’t going to be enough.

What To Do Now

Fielding the team you need is the first of all problems. You need to make sure you have the headcount you need going into the year. If you’re shorthanded, attack this problem with the greatest of urgency.

Outside of taking care of your team, clear your plate of anything that isn’t interviewing, screening, and spending time with candidates. Ask for help from your human resources department, your management team, and anyone else who might be able to  help you field the team you need as quickly and responsibly as possible.

But don’t hire the first person that walks through the door. That’s not a shortcut. Repeating this exercise in two months isn’t going to help you produce the results you need. Just work with urgency to field your team.

The first key to making your number as a sales manager is to ensure you have the headcount you need to make your number. You can work on improving that team throughout the year, but you can’t make your number without having the players you need on the field.


What do you do if you start the year short of headcount?

How do you hire with urgency without making mistakes?

Who can offer you the most help in the way of hiring quickly and effectively?

Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 4, 2013

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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