SALESPEOPLE: 9 STEP TO CRUSHING THE END OF YOUR YEAR (PLUS A BONUS STEP!)
If you are a sales professional then your quarterly / annual target is coming at your right now with breakneck speed whether you like it or not.
Maybe you have hit your annual number and you are popping champagne already. Or perhaps it’s been a tough year and you don’t know if you are going to cross the line.
Either way, you have a choice to sit back and relax OR you can finish the year with a triumphant push to close every single deal that you can (and let’s face it, if you clicked on this article then we both know you want to finish the year strong!)
Here are my 9 Steps to crush your end of year when you only have a few weeks to go, with a bonus step thrown in just for you!
1. FIND YOUR FOCUS
Nope, you won’t need a Japanese rock garden or a Tibetan mantra (though props if that is your thing, you will like Step 10.)
You have precious few business days left until the end of the year quarter and your time management is crucial. Get your Pareto Principle on, and identify the 20% of opportunities that will deliver the 80% of your results.
A quick technique is to create a simple 2x2 chart of Impact and Likelihood, then plot your opportunities against that. This will give you visibility into where you should be spending your time.
Once you know where you need to focus, block chunks of time into your calendar to specifically move each of those opportunities forward.
Look at all other meetings in your diary for the next 4 weeks and if they aren’t urgent or important then start rescheduling them until the next quarter (or better yet, cancel them altogether.)
Ask The Expert: Mark Dick, Head Of Sales, HealthEngine
“Prioritise deals that have a high probability of closing before year end and focus all effort on these. It sounds basic but time is a limited resource, and it is easy to be distracted by new opportunities or deals that do not have defined timelines.
In the excitement of a year-end time moves quickly, so invest the effort upfront to plan what deals you will commit to work on, and what needs to be done to get these over the line.”
2. STOP BEING A HOARDER
If you are anything like me then you might have become a Deal Hoarder.
You have a CRM overflowing with old and/or irrelevant opportunities and your inner optimist is clinging to the idea that those deals might still happen. If they haven’t progressed in the last 4 weeks, chances are that they probably won’t.
The clutter of low likelihood opportunities distracts you from your focus and doesn’t give you a clear idea of where you are at. Even worse, you might have some reluctance about cleaning out these opportunities as you know it might not paint a rosy picture.
Sage advice given to me early in my sales career: If you miss your forecast AND miss your budget, you were wrong twice.
Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to spring it on your Sales Manager that some of that pipeline isn’t going to come in. Bite the bullet right now, close old opportunities and remove them from your pipeline. Get realistic on your outlook right now, not later, and you are actually in a better position to get results in the next week.
If in doubt if something is an opportunity, see Step 5.
Ask The Expert: Chris Ashmam , Head Of Sales Improvement, News Corp
“Know your numbers – What’s your target/goal? What’s your average sale value? What’s your opportunity to sale conversion rate? If you don’t improve your average sale value or conversion rate, how many opportunities do you need to hit your target/goal? How can you improve? What’s the impact of improving? Sales is a numbers game, but it doesn’t need to be a volume game. Know what your numbers are and how to improve them so that you apply quality to your effort. Your results will explode when you focus on improving your metrics.”
3. LET'S GET VISUAL
Visual cues help maintain focus and motivation. They can be a constant reminder of what is important and keep you on track for what will make you successful.
Create your own visual cues or write down your key deals and opportunities, and have that as a visual cue in your line of sight all day.
Begin every morning and finish every day by casting your eye over your key deals and assessing how you are progressing against them.
For the innovators and growth hackers amongst you, the state of the art technology that I use for this is Melamine, a resin-infused paper which is typically used over a substrate that can range from particle board to MDF (medium density fibreboard).
You might know it by its more common street name – a whiteboard.
4. CONVEY SCARCITY AND URGENCY
Scarcity and urgency are two of the most important human drivers (put Cialdini’s Influence: The Science & Psychology Of Persuasion on your reading list if you haven’t already, it’s life changing and required reading for any serious sales professional.)
Some common examples used to convey scarcity and urgency include limited stock, limited capacity for a services business, or a limited period pricing.
Will Christmas shutdown push out their timeframes meaning your prospect really needs to come onboard now? Is there a price increase in the new year? Are there only 12 widgets left in stock due to a Christmas rush and this might be the last chance to get them? You can use facts like these to help deals cross the line.
Important – don’t create false urgency. People can sense it a mile off and it ruins your credibility.
5. BE POLITELY DIRECT
Your prospective buyer knows that you have a job to do and will be respectful of it. You want to get a true sense of what your prospect’s intentions are, without exerting undue sales pressure if they aren’t ready, willing and eager to do business with you.
The right question to ask in a friendly tone of voice is “If you were me, would you forecast this to happen before the end of the year?”
From there they will tell you exactly what they are thinking, what their timelines are, and what hurdles you might need to overcome to get there.
Taking the 2 minutes to ask a courageous question will save you days and weeks of effort trying to force something that likely was never going to happen.
Most of sales is simply solving someone’s need with your product or service – if they have a definite need and you have a definite solution then the rest is just logistics.
6. USE "YES IF" STATEMENTS
Negotiation is an inevitable part of sales. Never give away the farm and always maintain your pricing integrity, but most businesses will have some volume discounting tiers available that you can work within, or some additional value that can be included in a deal.
If you are receiving requests for discounts or additional support, and those requests are within business scope, give them a “Yes/IF” statement such as “Yes, we can investigate that discount IF you can commit to signing by Friday?”
Also, seek to add additional business value rather than give away financial value. It’s likely that within your business you have some resources unique and specific that only you can provide such as implementation, insights and more. This will often be far more valuable to your prospective client than the financial discount so focus your efforts here.
7. LEVERAGE EXECUTIVES, EXPERTS, AND CUSTOMERS
Your business is loaded with people that can help make a deal happen. Ask your MD, VP or Director if they are happy to help out and meet with your largest opportunity.
Usually there will be some internal experts that are very happy to go client facing and support you at the end of the quarter – this might be a product or technical experts such as an engineer, or someone that is usually involved in implementation that is happy to get involved also.
By far and away the best people you can leverage is an existing customer who is happy to be an advocate for your business. To achieve this you might leverage a written testimonial or video from a current customer. Better yet, ask a current customer if they would be happy to take a phone call from your prospective new customer to hear about their positive experiences with you and results they are getting.
8. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
There is nothing worse than it being the last day of the quarter, and you realise that that you have some internal hurdles such a setting them up as a client, undertaking a credit check, or some other internal hoop that needs to be jumped through.
Another perennial favourite is the prospective client that neglected to mention they were going to be away that day/week/moth that an agreement needed to be signed, or brings up legal approval or another decision maker at the eleventh hour.
Take some time to preempt and predict what you will need in the future to help the opportunity happen, and get the ball rolling on resolving those issues now. Get that credit check done. Ask your client if there are any other decision makers that need to be included. Find and solve all those hiccups now when there is the chance to resolve them before it is too late.
It’s easier said than done when under pressure in sales, but you have to look after yourself.
Get a good sleep. Eat well. Avoid late nights celebrating wins that haven’t happened yet. Find time to walk outside the office and get some sunshine and movement. Hit the gym or do some meditation or yoga.
Keeping yourself healthy, calm, and centred is crucial to keeping your momentum and productivity during a busy period.
Ask The Expert: Brad Burns, Head Of Sales, Care Pharmaceuticals
“The reality is the end of yearis the same as anyend of quarter period, as a team we know exactly what we are chasing and how we are tracking on a daily and weekly basis.
We have worked hard to lay a strong platform which is delivering above market results in growth and our team are focused on executing our strategic plan to ensure the trend continues. We are blessed to have a strong and diverse team who are engaged, passionate, connected and determined to win which makes a huge difference to our organisation.
Leading into the busy Christmas period, it’s important to also reflect on the year that has passed, down tools and spend quality time together to celebrate another successful year.”
BONUS TIP 10
Start your next year NOW and work like the above every day. By being strict with your focus and time you give yourself such a greater chance at getting great results.
So, what is your top piece of advice for salespeople on having a strong end of year?
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