The first day of the fourth quarter will be here sooner than you know it. Do you have a plan in place to ensure your sales team delivers on its goals? If not, here’s some advice from five industry experts.
Dianna Geairn Says: Get Your Head In The Game
To meet your Q4 sales goals, first, evaluate where you are now and then pick an approach to guarantee the win.
I like to think of this as a basketball game. Ask yourself, “What’s my score?”
- Am I 20 points ahead and confident I can maintain my lead? If so, I’m going to work hard to win the game and keep my star players injury- free!
- Am I neck-and-neck, trading two-point leads back and forth with the opposing team? Then, I am going to be opportunistic and probably heavy on defense.
- Am I waaaaay behind and need to catch up? Then it’s time to rely upon on some serious teamwork.
In sales, this translates to:
20 points ahead:
Start looking at the business you want to earn next year. Get your team together and discuss what worked so well this year. What should you keep doing? How can you build on this success for next year’s wins? Keep prospecting, but leverage the success towards next year’s victories.
First, dig into your pipeline. How much of it is real and how much is fantasy? Give your team incentives to toss out the bad data. Now is not the time for magical thinking.
Next, take the focus off of closing and shift to bringing new business into the pipeline. While this change in direction may seem counterintuitive, but you’d be amazed at how bringing in new business pushes other deals into a close. You might be equally surprised to learn how focusing entirely on bringing in current deals kills them.
Behind By A Lot:
Time for some teamwork! I’ve seen the buddy system work miracles in these cases. Every morning, each seller speaks to their sales partner (NOT their manager) for 10 minutes. They should identify the activity they will pursue that day and make a promise regarding how they will get done. Every evening, they debrief for 15 minutes on how many of their promises they kept. This strategy leverages peer coachingThis and can turn weak quarters into incredible victories.
Heather R. Morgan Says: Analyze Your Pipeline For Bottlenecks
To meet your Q4 sales goals, back out your numbers to smaller milestones for your team.
First, take a bottom-up analysis of your sales pipeline. Follow the path of a typical lead through from the first contact to close to find the biggest bottlenecks.
If every additional $10 million of sales revenue requires 10,000 new leads at the top of the funnel, it may be easier to reduce the leads that drop off at each stage of the pipeline rather than just adding more opportunities. A common bottleneck for sales pipelines can be your email response rate, which can be remedied by writing more effective and targeted cold email copy.
Caryn Kopp Says: Build Goodwill And Help Clients Use Their Budgets
The fourth quarter is a critical time for customers who are executive decision makers. For their professional growth, these clients must complete initiatives to get their bonuses, rave reviews and possibly a promotion. For their company, these decision makers must use up yearly budgets before they lose them. What does this mean for you? Opportunity!
First, create goodwill for your client by telling their boss or top brass about the bang-up results they’ve achieved when working with you. The more job security your key contacts have, the better for you. And, they will find out that you’ve raved about them.
Then, help your client use their remaining yearly budget. Suggest a first-quarter initiative or pilot program funded with unspent dollars from this year’s budget. This strategy can open the door to larger projects while helping decision makers protect next year’s budget.
Finally, reconnect with prospects who said “yes” to a competitor this past year. During the fourth quarter, many decision makers reflect on the outcome of choices they made throughout the year. Situations can change and projects previously on hold can become available. Reach out and stay to be top-of-mind and collect when the money is on the table.
Nancy Nardin Says: Use Technology To Automate Processes
First, use a lead database solution (like Avention, Companybook, DiscoverOrg, InsideView, and RingLead) to identify new prospects. Then use Conversica (an automated prospect outreach solution) to set up appointments for your salespeople. Conversica does the prospecting-cadence, freeing up your salespeople for holding sales calls.
Make it possible for reps to email sales pitches and proposals and track prospect engagement quickly. A solution like ClearSlide will do that and also allows sellers to hold live pitches on the phone without software downloads.
These tools cover the most fundamental elements of selling: how to contact prospects and how to get prospects to engage in a conversation.
Kelly Riggs Says: Don’t Let the Holidays Lull You To Sleep
Let’s look at this challenge a little differently. Here is what you would do to ensure you miss your Q4 targets entirely. So, avoid these mistakes at all costs if you want to hit your numbers!
1. Take Extra Time Off During the Holidays
After all, your clients are taking holidays off as well, right? Salespeople who make their numbers in the fourth quarter find the few customers who stick around. While everyone else is coasting, these reps can create some valuable sales conversations.
2. Spend Critical Selling Time in The Office Sending Holiday Cards and Preparing For Parties
I sound like Scrooge, don’t I? But, my point is not to avoid the holiday season — it’s to avoid using it as an excuse for doing a bunch of activities that don’t create sales. Should you send cards and buy gifts and all that? Sure! But don’t waste valuable selling time doing it.
3. Quit Prospecting During The Holidays
Many salespeople think clients don’t want to be bothered during the holidays. While I’m sure there is an occasional buyer who coasts in November and December, most of your customers have customers to serve just like you. So, if your solution provides value during any other time of the year, it will certainly provide that value during the holidays. Don’t lay off the prospecting in Q4. Depending on your customer’s buy cycle, you could lose valuable revenue in Q4 and in early 2017 as well. Instead of hiding out or slacking off because it’s the holidays, use this joyful time of year as a reason to visit with a card or treat for your customers — and slide into a sales conversation if it makes good sense.
4. Don’t Prioritize Your Time Well
If your sales production is a function of the number of days available for you to sell or your customers to buy, the fourth quarter doesn’t do you any favors. Because of the holidays, each month in the fourth quarter has fewer working days. In 2016, there are 21 working days in October, 20 in November, and as few as 19 in December. With less working days and more holidays, you must fit more activity into less time. Use the time you have wisely by dramatically increasing face-to-face activity with prospects and customers. Take every opportunity to be in front of customers, creating dialogue and helping your clients solve problems. And use the holidays as a great reason to stop by and start a conversation!
There’s still time to get your sales team ready to close out the year strong! For custom coaching for your company, call Alice 775-852-5020.