Don’t Sleep Through the 4th Quarter: 3 Excuses for Abandoning Q4 (and Why They’re All Bogus)
Recently, I heard a sales consultant tell a group of sales reps that they needed to forget about closing Q4 deals and turn their attention to laying the groundwork for 2015. The only value to Q4, this consultant argued, is that it presents an opportunity to get a jumpstart on Q1.
And he was dead serious.
I couldn’t believe it. Why would a salesperson treat Q4 any differently than the other three quarters of the year? The opportunities are still there and you’ve still got quotas, quarterly targets, and annual revenue goals to shoot for, don’t you? For me, quitting on Q4 to look ahead to Q1 is akin to a football team walking off the field in the fourth quarter of a game so that it can rest up or prepare for its next one. Have you ever seen that happen?
Throughout the years, I’ve consistently coached reps to recognize the value of Q4 sales and the potential prospecting opportunities the coming months present. Namely, you’ve still got time to close more deals and make more money (duh). And the more seeds you sow now, the better your harvest will be in Q1.
If for no other reason than to achieve those benefits, why wouldn’t you give Q4 your full attention? In 25+ years as a sales executive and consultant, I’ve heard every excuse in the book for why Q4 is a dismal time for salespeople. What do I think about those excuses? They’re incorrect, self-defeatist drivel.
#1 “The holiday season is right around the corner – prospects won’t be in the office and they won’t want to hear from me.”
Do companies suddenly shutter their windows in November and December and ignore their biggest challenges or pain points? No. Someone is working and, believe it or not, it’s often easier to reach those people because they’re more relaxed and open to chat. Yes, it takes a bit more work to push a PO through, but it’s not an impossible task. Make sure to monitor sales triggers to see if companies are trying to use year-end budget to accomplish initiatives.
#2 “There isn’t enough time left to do anything meaningful. I’m too far behind – even if I worked my tail off, I couldn’t make my number.”
Most of the small and midsize businesses we work with have average sales cycles of 60-120 days for new clients. So, yes, there are some deals that just won’t close before year-end, but there are plenty of others that could. And, enterprise businesses still have budget to spend before they lose it – if you call. There’s still plenty of time left for add-on sales, upsells, and fast moving 45-60 day closes. Triggers will give you the first mover advantage to get your solution in front of buyers before your competition knows they are looking for a solution.
#3 “Because it’s year-end, prospects and clients expect a discount. To close any deal at the end of the year, I have to slash the price on my proposal and management just won’t let that happen.”
Guess whose fault that is? Because so many sales reps now manage Q4 with such nonchalance, customers have begun to expect fire sales and slashed prices. When you sound desperate or frantic, prospects smell blood in the water and take advantage of the situation. When the tone of your emails and phone calls is confident and built around a clear business case, you can manage your prospecting with the same confidence you have in March or April. If you are connecting to the right people and looping all of the relevant decision makers you will be able to move more quickly towards closing deals, confidently and without deep discounts.
Boom or Bust: How Will You Close Out Q4?
Over the course of the last six weeks, I’ve conducted and participated in four webinars that have shared more than 20 tactics salespeople can use to successfully close business in Q4 – and none of them involved resorting to desperate tactics to do so.
If you are interested in hearing more sales insight, check out our recent webinar discussing 10 Strategies to Close More Sales.
You can still make your quarterly and annual numbers. But in order to do so, you need to fully commit to the next few months just as you would the first few months of next year. The payoff for doing that can be significant. The payoff for quitting on Q4? I’m guessing you can figure that one out on your own.
You may also be interested in:
- Understanding how detailed Organizational Charts can get you in front of the right decision makers on the first try
- Downloading our eBook on How to Turn Cold Calls into Warm Leads
- Read how one company shortened sales cycles using DiscoverOrg
Kendra Lee is a Prospect Attraction Expert, president of KLA Group, and author of the award-winning books The Sales Magnet and Selling Against the Goal. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps mid-market companies break through tough prospecting barriers to exceed revenue goals. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and events. To find out more about the author and her “Get More Customers” strategies, visit www.klagroup.com or call +1 303-741-6636.