It’s 4th quarter – the time when sales teams are looking at closing the gap on their goals and where they are year-to-date.
For some of you, you’re okay and on track. Good for you on managing your pipeline, developing new business, or “crushing it” this year. For many of you, this is a panic and terror moment.
I was at an airport gate waiting for my flight about a week ago and I overheard a man next to me on the phone having a conversation with someone in his organization. I don’t normally eavesdrop but he was standing right over me and my ears perked up when he asked, “Hey, what about sales? Weren’t we supposed to have closed some bigger deals by now? It seems like we’ve been slow lately in production and I think we’re going to be really behind for the year if we don’t see some major closes in a hurry. I hope they kick it into gear.”
This guy was clearly NOT in charge of sales – a sales director or even the owner, but his alarm this late into the year is like a ripple effect stretching outward from the sales department. You can bet that his sales department is scrambling right now to figure out how they’re going to close out the year without disappointing results.
What do you do if you’re staring down the end of the year and you’re feeling the squeeze of those unmet goals? Here are 3 ways to dial in on your year-end push:
Get crystal clear on where your buyers are in their process. Stop guessing. Start asking. Assuming you’ve built the relationship up to the point where you’ve earned some credit to be able to put your buyer in the position of sharing their process and intentions with you. In theory, you should know this of every prospect in your pipeline but more likely than not, you’ve got a few “hot” prospects and then the rest are in the middle of limbo somewhere. Disqualify, bench, set a date to move forward, whatever those definitive “nexts” are for prospects, focus on getting clear on those (instead of trying to close too early) and you’ll figure out which relationships are worthy of your time to move forward.
Expand your relationships. If you’re in an industry where you sell multiple solutions or your offers touch more than one person/department, expand your reach outside your main contacts. Reach up and downstream from your buyers. Additional insights from others can help you understand the culture better and organizational decision making. This approach has helped sales pros discover unmet needs in the organization, unhappy users or influencers who were lobbying for alternate vendors, and even new divisions or departments that you can expand into. Growing your internal network is always a fantastic way to increase incremental sales and cement relationships for future business.
Start preparing NOW! The end of the year gets really hairy with holidays and vacations and then the New Year begins. I’ve always found a great year-end push strategy to get on board with my clients to try to help them wrap up their year and push through any initiatives before they get too bogged down in their year-end minutia. And I’m NOT only talking about helping them buy you or your products. What can you truly do to help them close out their year? This is a great touch point for call and email campaigns. Discussing end of year calendars, goals, and “How can I help” conversations get you in the cue with your customers before everyone ELSE starts their end of year desperation calls. Start talking now and don’t be shy about planning for the next year as well.
It might seem a little early to talk year-end push . . . but if you’re already facing a stretch to make your goals for the year, it’s never early enough! Make every decision, every action, every call, a conscious decision to impact your customers’ decision-making process. Get focused on exactly where and how to spend YOUR time so you can make the most of the few productive weeks you have left.
Do it before your customers are too frazzled to make decisions and before your competitors are making their hail-mary desperation calls.
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!