How to Accelerate Sales Performance in Q4
In football, winning the fourth quarter is pivotal. Of course, the first three quarters count, but in many ways, they are setup for the final fifteen minutes. With time running down, teams with leads may play it safe and engineer long, slow drives that eat clock. While teams that are behind need to score fast, they too must be mindful of time or risk giving up a last-second, game-winning field goal. In sales, the fourth quarter is equally important. For one thing, buyers are willing to deal. They expect offers, and they know time is ticking on their available budgets. That’s why a strategic fourth-quarter strategy is essential. Here are a few tips to accelerate performance during this critical time:
While periodic pipeline reviews are crucial, they are more important than ever in Q4. Here, managers can help reps analyze the deals in their pipeline to determine which have the best chance of closing. This allows reps to prioritize those and find new ways to move them, such as adding value. After all, some of these have been hanging in limbo since halftime. In the fourth quarter, both sellers and buyers have additional incentive to get deals done. Like a quarterback following a lineman for a short first down, this could be the push needed to maintain possession and score a touchdown.
As a football coach may pump up the team for the fourth quarter, sales managers can provide extra motivation. Here, managers can add incentives for increased activity, such as additional calls to close deals, and allow reps to be flexible with offers. Though goals and quotas are set at the beginning of the year, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate these in the fourth quarter. This is not to say change them. It’s a little late for that. However, with the game on the line, buyers want to buy. Sellers should use this to their advantage and tailor their play calls to the situation. Like a gift card to Starbucks, incentives can be the gesture that says it’s pumpkin spice season. Let’s stop dancing and do this already.
Ramp Up Coaching
Day-to-day, coaching is one of the best ways to improve performance. During Q4, it’s a good idea to increase the frequency of these efforts. If your usual schedule is every few weeks, up this to weekly or bi-weekly. This ensures managers will keep tabs on their reps to push stagnated deals through the pipeline. Individual coaching allows managers to review a rep’s data and offer pointed tips and instruction for making the most of their activities. Maybe it’s more targeted prospecting, better use of collateral, or a late-game value offer, like an unexpected trick play, but coaching can motivate reps to push themselves.
Evaluate and Re-Evaluate Your Q4 Calendar
For many sales organizations, time speeds up in the fourth quarter. With calendars set in advance, it can be difficult to keep up with projections set months earlier. Here, the best sales managers need great, late-game, time-management skills. This requires more frequent updates and revisions to your calendar. Like football coaches with special fourth quarter plays, these need to be communicated with your sales team, so they are all on board with the new goals. Remember, too, the fourth quarter is short. With the extended Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, sellers want to touch base with prospects and clients about availability during the holidays.
Realign Sales and Marketing Priorities
Of course, increased activity from reps, such as more emails and phone calls, are never a bad idea. However, these alone will not be enough. In the fourth quarter, a sales team needs a targeted push from marketing to better support the sales effort as the clock continues to tick. Like the extra effort of exhausted and panting linemen, increasing the volume of content reps can share will help with their engagement, especially if this is tied to the deals in their pipeline. This type of coordinated effort to reach those on-the-fence prospects can be just what’s needed to jumpstart a sputtering deal and help reps guide buyers to the goal.
Shorten the Sales Cycle
At this late stage, in addition to adding value and coordinating your marketing efforts, reps should focus on shortening the sales cycle. In the sales equivalent of a no-huddle offense, reps need to be aware of both the play clock and the game clock and approach each down with a sense of urgency. If your team trails, sales pros can be a little assertive and take high-probability chances. Read the defense. Get creative. Find the “in” needed to sway a prospect to sign the deal. It’s now or never. While there’s no need for a Hail Mary or an ill-advised discount, that doesn’t mean you can’t sweeten the deal, like throwing in free customer support for the first year.
Schedule Weekly Sales Meetings
Weekly sales meetings let reps share what they are doing to close deals, which can inspire the team to do more, try new things, or revive their enthusiasm. Also, these meetings allow reps to trade ideas about what’s working in the fourth quarter. This is a great way to have an experienced closer jump in on a call with a newer team member and offer tips for how to move the deal. Perhaps it’s generating a sense of urgency in a buyer, a reminder what they stand to gain and lose if they don’t act soon. These little tips can be the difference between a won deal and a lost opportunity.
One of the great things about both fourth-quarter football and selling is the excitement. Whether it’s a close game in the final minutes or a sales team hitting quota, there’s a heightened sense of urgency that makes one’s pulse race. It’s when the highs are highest, the lows the lowest, and critical moments can be the difference between winning and losing. It reminds us how football and selling are team efforts, with the fourth quarter all-hands-on-deck time, and nothing beats a smart, well-played fourth quarter that results in victory.
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