The last quarter of the calendar is both relieving because the end is in sight, but also foreboding for many sales teams if sales targets have not yet been met. An incredible amount of revenue exchanges hands in the last quarter, and many companies know that it can make the difference between a good fiscal year or a bad one, especially in product sales. Managers are regularly tested to find ways to push teams over that last mile. Here are some of the simple ways they can make that magic happen:
1. Proactively reiterate the team goals – Sales leaders play a critical role in keeping their teams focused on tangible goals, especially when end-of-the-year pressures increase exponentially. That takes coaching, monitoring, pep talks, reminders, and pulling people to get out of the comfort zone they so desperately want to settle into for the final ride. The last quarter is no time to back off and ride momentum; people get lethargic when they are not pushed. Team leaders should instead be challenging their salespeople to reach just a bit farther than the year before.
2. Use performance data strategically – With three-fourths of a sales year already under the belt, a good amount of recent and useful sales data already exists on existing customers, new targets, market trends and performance, and competitors’ behavior. Don’t ignore that information in the final quarter – use it. Data trends can predict how to hone efforts for additional sales, leads, and practices to avoid that clearly aren’t working. Ignoring these valuable informational assets is literally leaving sales money on the table. Track items like LinkedIn introductions or segmenting your buyers using the effective KARE method.
3. Plan the big sales events carefully – There are going to be a few key dates and events still left in the year that significantly matter. These may be final customer meetings, conventions and event presence, or some other time/date-specific point. Developing a solid plan of attack generally produces a higher level of sales on these key dates than not doing anything and hoping for the best. The success of the outcome is dependent on your preparation. Make sure you capitalize on all your buyer touches.
4. Reengage your accounts – An existing customer is far easier to sell to than a cold, brand new one. It should be about 5x more effective to sell an existing customer versus finding a net new customer. A simple phone call to touch bases and remind customers what value-benefits your company provides can be the “in” that your sales team needs for additional last minute transactions and revenue. I would have a conversation to find out the top three items your customer wants/needs to be a raving fan. We use the Customer Satisfaction tool to make sure you have an easy process which has a great track record of success. Your account tracking or customer relationship management (CRM) database should show the last activity each account had and who needs a wake-up call.
5. Become a social seller – Email, LinkedIn, Twitter blasts, social media alerts and similar communications are easy to put together, easy to send to multiple customer accounts, and require little or no cost to initiate. You can find out as much as you want to about an account by leveraging the social media channels. Connect these tools with a specific effort, incentive, or sales push, and a little bit of work can translate into extra sales. Just be sure to provide all the needed information for a customer to follow through and complete a sales call to action without having to think too hard about it.
6. Make the most of every hour of the day – Down time is lost time, especially in the last quarter, and your sales team can’t make any of it up with a re-run. So every twenty minutes of the work day, people should be under the expectation to be doing something to contribute to making a sale happen. Make sure your team clearing understands the pay time/no pay time concept. They are focused on the right activities at the right time. You want each person to have behavioral plan so they can be hyper focused on what it takes to succeed.
Sales success at the year-end is a product of smart, active leadership. It doesn't happen automatically. A business sales team needs to generate the energy to get through one final push, which will frequently produce some of the best sales of the year.