By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Early in my sales management career, I was astounded by how hopeful salespeople were that had achieved 35% of their annual quota going into the fourth quarter. Most came far short of their numbers for the year. Those that squeaked through were faced with a mountain to climb the following year as they started the New Year with little or nothing that was closeable in the first quarter.
Train wrecks happen a month at a time. With the third quarter of the year underway, my advice to sellers and their managers is to start looking a sales cycle ahead every month to optimize the chance that there’s enough in the pipeline. My suggestion is to try to be realistic vs. optimistic:
- Withdraw proposals that are over 90 days old. Sellers often assume an unrealistic percentage of these will close. Politely withdrawing them offers two benefits:
- A more realistic view in removing unqualified opportunities from pipelines.
- In some cases buyers may still be interested and otherwise dormant opportunities can be revived.
- With ongoing opportunities, try to determine when buyers want to make decisions and see if a written Sequence of Events (SOE) with activities and dates can be negotiated.
- On an ongoing basis, do the math as to how many new opportunities must be found each month to reasonably cover your monthly revenue objective.
- If/when sellers fall below YTD, tweak activity levels to make up the shortfall.
Scrambling in the last quarter is stressful for everyone involved. Take action now while there’s still time to get YTD or better.