Manage Your Year-End Sales Funnel
The fourth quarter is the toughest one of the year. Whether you’re the CMO, VP Sales, the top salesperson, the mid salesperson or the one coming up from behind, every passing day brings you closer to the end—and that’s not necessarily a deadline you’re looking forward to.
But you’re goal-oriented, otherwise you’d likely be in another profession. So how are you going to tackle closing out the year on a high note?
- Assess your situation. How many deals do you currently have in your pipeline? Where do they stand? How many are just about closed? How far away are you from your goal? You can’t diagnose your situation before you take a critical look at where you are.
- Analyze yourself. You’ve been working at this for at least 3 quarters. What techniques have worked for you and which haven’t? It’s time to throw out the non-performers and go straight for the winners. If you’re out of plays, go back to the drawing board, get in touch with your inner customer and ask yourself “what is it about this product that would sell me?” Then test it out on the most cynical of your friends.
- Work backwards. If you know that your typical sales cycle takes 3-6 weeks, get a meeting on the books NOW. Don’t wait until the first week of December to start with a new prospect in your pipeline, hoping that you’re going to close them in record time. Now that you know exactly how many deals you are away from your goal, you know how many meetings you need to set up. Consider the 20:6:3:1 rule. For 20 meetings you set up you’ll get 6 follow-ups, which will lead to 3 serious leads and 1 deal.
- Maximize your prospects. Don’t waste time on the wrong customers. Every time you speak with a potential lead they’re giving you a valuable asset—their time, says Andy Paul, author of Zero-Time Selling. Prove to them that you’re worthy of their precious time by disseminating valuable and actionable information in a succinct fashion. Treat every prospective sale as a zero-sum game: You either won it or you lost it. Move on as quickly as possible to close as many prospects as you can. But remember to stay personable. This isn’t just a transaction, this is relationship-building, so that next quarter you won’t have to scramble.
- Rope in your early adopters. There’s no better advocate for your product than a client who becomes a brand ambassador. Your early adopters tend to be huge fans and will gladly spread the word on your behalf. Let them! Whether it’s in a press release, in a blog post, or in a customer testimonial on your marketing website, use their enthusiasm to augment your sales efforts.
Most importantly, stay focused on the end-goal. You want to make your numbers, but you want to do so in a way that maintains your integrity, fuels your passion for the product and keeps the customer front and center. When you keep those three core tenants in mind, the numbers will follow.
Do you have best-practices for year-end selling? Share them in the comments below.