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It’s the 4th quarter and the clock is ticking or has it stopped?

If your typical sales cycle is longer than 2 months from initial customer contact to close, it’s time for a reality check! “The majority of the hay is in the barn.” So let’s focus our efforts on the key adjustments we can still make. Finish strong and position well for next year!

Scenario: You have 3 sales reps your team is X revenue behind quota.
Rep 1 is at 75% to plan with a very thin overall pipeline.
Rep 2 is at 95% to plan with many opportunities in discovery/proposal.
Rep 3 is at 110% to plan and has a couple of good size deals lined up for next year.

Overall, this means you are 93% to plan, so what do you do to get that last bit done and meet your goals?

The Pivotal Point of View: Steps to finish strong

  1. Examine ALL deals in ALL the existing pipelines.
    • Add up the total pipeline from Discovery through Proposal
    • Examine your close rates, if you’re not sure use 30% close rate
    • Figure out your past deal sizes, for this example use the Average deal size of $15k
    • Take out the abnormal deals or use the Sales Cycle of 6 months. Examine potential close dates stated and add one month to each opportunity to be conservative.
  2. Help Rep 1 readjust their prospecting goal. This rep is going to have to sprint for 30-45 days so they can add a couple of new opportunities to increase their overall pipeline. Let’s build a plan to help them get at least 83% to plan. They may be behind for countless reasons. Encourage, support, and focus them on day to day sales activities that predict future success. Push for more activity such as calls, emails, or going back to previous customers. Focus on opportunities where they might close deals faster.
  3. Rep 2 is projected to finish strong, so help them get it done. Make a plan to get beyond 103%. Focus on spotting underqualified opportunities. Really examine those projected close dates. Try to find value for the customer to close those deals before Nov 15th to avoid any holiday snags. Remember, creating value for your customer doesn’t always mean discounting. Many times it’s a value add or highlighting their previously shared timelines to ensure deliver before the holiday rush!
  4. Rep 3. Depending on the comp plan, we typically see very few companies have over incentive pay plans. They may have bonuses but they’re not getting more percent of dollars on dollar sold. So they might be thinking it's time to get their vacation in, set up for next year, or that they don’t want next year’s quota to be too high. Focus on incentive to motivate them to 115% or higher. Make it lucrative, they’re a high achiever for a reason. They’ll respond to a sincere gesture.

The above is just an example of what you can do in the 4th quarter. Just remember that doing nothing in this situation will likely result in a drop to less than 90% to plan. There is rarely a one size fits all 4th quarter contest that addresses everyone. Analyze, determine the gap you want to close and then readjust your plan to achieve 103% to plan. You need to involve the reps in the process, these ideas rarely work as a stated objective alone. Share with them a few of your ideas and have them make come up with their own adjusted plan. Your job is to help, support, and provide every avenue possible for your reps to increase their quota in the remaining months. Leading people through the 4th quarter adjustments is what makes Great Leadership and its really fun. Reminder, you most likely have less time than you think. TICK! TOCK!

If you have some unique methods, ideas, practices to add, or just completely disagree, I highly encourage you to share your opinion for the betterment of everyone.  Comment on LinkedIn your thoughts or email your ideas!

About Steve Hoeft

Steve is a Partner, VP Client Services at Pivotal Advisors. Leadership has been forefront in his career for over 20 years. He has also been a Vice President of Sales for a number of companies in Minnesota. Steve has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Sales Leaders Roundtable, Trust Vets, Marine Corps Events and more. If you want to find out more about Steve check out his profile here.
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