One Demo At a Time: How I Overcame The Stress of Hitting my Quota

Let’s face it, day-to-day life as an SDR comes with waves of uninvited stress. Nonetheless, it’s an inevitable part of the role that we’re all bound to experience whether we’ve met peace with it or not. I’ve seen previous colleagues take a sharp turn in their career paths after a few months in sales, and others who rise and strive to be the strongest sales leaders every morning they wake up. Simply put, “hitting a quota” each month is not a one size fits all lifestyle. However, some of the most successful sales reps have embodied a similar theme of perseverance and grit, which some might argue have overpowered the stress of meeting a sales quota. I took it upon myself to understand how to transform and harness my stress into a tool to my power that would push me 1% further every day while diminishing the vicious cycle of negative self-talk. 

Break it Down: 

I’d like to say the stress I’ve experienced in my sales journey hasn’t happened “to” me, perhaps, “for” me. In part to this, the overwhelming moments in my day have pushed me further in breaking down the root cause of what triggered my stress at work and outside of it. Ultimately, this was a necessary step in overcoming it. For me, it was the worry of not dedicating enough time in the month to meet my quota and the uncertainty of what could happen if I didn’t meet the expectations set out for myself. After self-reflecting on this, I’ve spent each day afterward focusing on the present rather than the “what ifs”. From this, I knew time was one thing I was able to control, in terms of how many hours of work I wanted to put in and how I would manage those hours. However, the uncertainty of the future was one worry I knew I had to let go of and move on from. I can’t control the uncontrollable or predict the future; but I can control the areas I know I’m capable of in my workflow.

I’ve spent each day afterward focusing on the present rather than the “what ifs”

Self Love & Awareness: 

In sales, we all know how to get the creative juices flowing. Seeking out unique ways to feel proud of myself in between the day played an impactful role in the way I perceived my worth and the effort I put in each day. A habit that’s helped me build this into a reality has been writing down small achievements I noticed in my workday where I noticed a change in my habits and by going beyond my comfort zone. Some days it looks like a vulnerable conversation with my manager, pricing pushbacks from folks who had previously ghosted me or beating my personal record on a Demo Day. Being reminded and feeling proud of the work I put in has brought me meaningful peace that reminds me of how despite, whatever happens, I know I controlled everything in my power to do my best. At the end of the day, a quota does not define our characters as SDRs or our sense of dedication to our goals. 

Control Only What You Can

The ability to let go of the external factors impacting my workflow in my day wasn’t easy. Instead of fueling my energy towards annoying tech issues or being hung up on, I shifted my focus to what I could control. For me, this is the number of dials I made in a day, practicing good fit show rate habits, and persistently checking in with prospects. The biggest takeaway for me in this transition was accepting and coming to peace with external factors that were out of my control. Deep breaths and mindful breaks helped! 

Pacing Tools:

One evening my manager told me to use an Excel spreadsheet to track my results throughout the month. I never thought I’d consistently use it until I did and it was a game-changer! High quota numbers can feel out of reach coming freshly into the month. An Excel spreadsheet displaying a personal weekly goal and the percentage of how far along I was to meeting that target broke down my monthly quota into comfortable snippets. Since I’ve been using it, I’ve found that I’ve become strategic with how I tackle smaller goals, as visualizing it helps. 

Honest communication:

 Opening up and being vulnerable about how you’re feeling during the lows of your sales journey can feel uncomfortable. However, building strong relationships with my team leaders offered me the clarity and motivation I needed to keep pushing forward on the tough days. In part of this, I know my managers and team members recognize my hard work and your team leaders will recognize yours too. 

Ever since applying these habits, I’ve seen a massive shift in my overall mental health, productivity, and success in the few short months I’ve been an SDR. It all began with my willingness to self-reflect and transform my perspective on the idea of stress, and the bigger picture of what a sales quota meant to me. Last but not least, I never forget to do the activities that make me happy outside of sales too. 

There’s been a few book recommendations that have been passed on to me by my successful colleagues I thought I’d share. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. To whoever is reading this, I hope you get to enjoy them as much as I do and believe you can set out to do anything you set your mind to. 

Reina Harwood

Reina Harwood is currently an Inbound Sales Development Representative at Zoominfo and is working her way up towards an Account Executive role. She enjoys connecting with new people and exploring creative solutions in helping businesses reach their goals. Outside of the sales operation, she’s a recent graduate from the University of Oregon who enjoys surfing, traveling, and writing poetry. The best way to reach her is by email at

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