Some sales reps pride themselves on their ability to close last-minute deals and hit their monthly quota with seconds to spare. There’s something exhilarating and satisfying about procrastinating and still winning – but are these deals really winners?
Harvard Business Review conducted a study that shows during the end of the month sales reps push deals that are not ready. The data indicates that salespeople close three times as many deals at the end of the month but lose 11 times as many.
In fact, the data indicates that this end-of-the-month push coincides with a 51% decrease in overall sales win rates. And because reps are less effective at closing the right deals at the end of the quarter, the overall deal size declines 34.5%.
Our suggestion? Carve out a day or morning free of meetings, lock yourself in a quiet room, and plan your next sales quarter so the next three months are filled with a consistent flow of core closed-won deals, instead of crickets followed by a mad dash to close anyone with a pulse.
Here’s what to do:
Analyze how the last sales quarter went for YOU, not the team
It may seem obvious, but the key to your success in the next quarter is your ability to dissect what did and didn’t work in the past quarter for you. No one but you really knows what worked and didn’t work on those calls. Determine which of your goals were achieved and which should carry over to the next quarter.
Once again, don’t analyze the team – analyze yourself. Which of your new techniques bombed and which succeeded? Decide which new tactics you’re going to try this month. Sales is constantly evolving and you need to be evolving with it.
Measure and track
Measure your sales metrics and track your progress and current impact. Make necessary adjustments to your quarterly sales plan based on these metrics and identify any issues with your current plan.
Five important sales metrics that you should track to measure your progress:
- Average number of calls to close a deal
- Customer satisfaction ratings
- The sales cycle
- Track activities vs. outcome
Seven powerful sales metrics to help you measure and achieve your highest-impact goals:
- Sales by lead source
- Average order value
- Percent of deals that make it through the pipeline
- Lead response rate
- Sales velocity
- Lead scores
- Pipeline growth
Create charts to help your team visualize the data:
Review your top opportunities
What stage of the sales process are you at with your top opportunities? Create new strategies for your quarterly sales plan to tackle these top opportunities.
Know the 80/20 rule of sales: about 20% of your customers produce 80% of your sales. So focus on that 20% and zero in on those kinds of customers. Go into the new quarter knowing who exactly these people are and how you’re going to tackle your top opportunities.
Assess your situation. How many deals do you currently have in your pipeline? Where do they stand? How many are just about closed? Take a critical look at where you are and where your top opportunities lie in the pipeline.
Update your sales plan
Although your team already has a detailed sales plan, it’s important to update this plan at the end of each quarter. With many industry, market, and behavior changes occurring every day – there’s always something to update in your business plans.
What did you learn in the past quarter as a team? Apply these learnings and update your sales plan to reflect current standings. If you do it right, your sales plan should get better and more detailed every quarter.
Quarterly sales plans help you visualize the process so the team can actively follow the same goals and objectives. An effective sales plan should include the following:
- Company overview and background
- Core values and sales principles
- Clear goals and objectives
- Target customers and buyer personas
- Positioning in the market
- Sales strategies and tactics
- Clear action plan
Update your sales goals
An effective way to update your sales goals is by using our free sales touch planner to accurately forecast your sales goals in seconds.
How does it work? Sales leaders plug in these four simple numbers:
And our template churns out the important stuff. You’ll find out the feasibility of your plan and identify any opportunities to increase sales goals and rep activities.
Indicate your focus areas for the next quarter
The key to making your action plan is to indicate your top focus areas.
It’s easy to make a large list of goals that you want to accomplish in the next quarter but this only obscures your top priorities. Make a list of three focus areas to prioritize – what do you really want to achieve this next quarter that will benefit your business the most.
Tackle your next sales quarter
Once you’ve taken all these steps, you’re ready to tackle the new quarter with better understandings, strategies, and objectives. Don’t let another end-of-the quarter sales rush jeopardize your bank account. Plan your next quarter out strategically and close the right deals on a more consistent basis.