By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Image courtesy of Nokhoog Buchachon at FreeDigitaPhotos.net
The year is coming to an end for both you and your prospects. Are you prepared? Do you have a plan in place to maximize your use of fourth quarter dynamics, such as: reduced selling time, request for resources from prospects that aren’t real, limited availability to decision makers due to holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas), pressure for excessive fourth quarter discounts by prospects, etc.? You can’t approach this fourth quarter as business as usual. You have to approach the remainder of this year with a sense of urgency.
Here are some things that I suggest that you EXECUTE immediately:
1. Re-grade your existing pipeline using the Pipeline Grading Form**. Who are your real fourth quarter opportunities?
2. Take control of your sales pipeline.
- Send an email to all C (Champion) prospects, followed by a personal phone call, advising them that this is a critical quarter and asking them if it is their intent to make a selection decision by the end of December. Explain to them that with the reduced amount of time, holidays, etc., that you would like to focus your energies and your company’s resources to provide them with the information they need to make an informed purchase decision by December 14th.
- You might as well find out who is real or not. Why submit what could turn out to be embarrassing sales forecast?
- If it is not their intent to purchase, document and confirm your understanding of that decision via email, let them know you will contact after the first of the year, and invite them to re-engage if anything should change between now and the first of the year.
3. Convert those existing C’s (Champions), those that responded affirmatively to your email and phone call, into E’s (Evaluating).
- Ask them how they would like to complete their evaluation.
- Introduce the Sequence of Events (SOE)** as a way to accomplish what needs to be done before the Christmas holiday.
- The final evaluation step in any mutually agreed-to Sequence of Events should be scheduled for the week of December 9th. After Friday the 14th you’ll find that many decision makers are going to be gone for the holiday. You’ll have potentially missed the opportunity to close this business by the end of the year-end.
- You’ve given yourself an additional two (2) precarious weeks if something slips.
4. Withdraw any outstanding proposals that have been out for over fourteen (14) days.
- If there has been no action, other than to simply tell you to ‘hang in there,’ withdraw the proposal.
- Use the ‘Gentle’ or ‘Hard’ emails that I introduced in your workshop, depending upon the circumstance. If you need a copy, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- If they don’t re-engage, face reality. They weren’t going to close. Take them off the forecast.
- If they do re-engage, schedule a refocus call, find out what else needs to be done, and issue an abbreviated Sequence of Events.
- Close the business by December 14th.
5. Use a Negotiation Worksheet**; don’t wing it!
- Expect to be squeezed on pricing. It’s your prospects’ right and obligation to get the best possible price for their company.
- It’s your right and obligation to get the best possible price for you and your company. Think revenue and commission.
- Resist negotiating unless you have been selected.
- Negotiate with Decision Makers and know in advance:
- Your positions when asked for concessions
- Two potential ‘gets’ you can ask for
- The price you are willing to accept
- One concession you are willing to offer after gaining one of your ‘gets.’
- Close using a get/give strategy (if it’s even necessary)
** CustomerCentric Selling® clients, you can find these documents in your CustomerCentric Selling® Workshop Manual.