By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
One definition of skill mastery is technique under pressure. A golfer that made putts with near perfect form on the practice green stabs at and misses a six-footer on the 18th hole for the match. The more athletes want or need something, the harder it is to get. Sellers striving to achieve quota in December face similar challenges. Sellers needing orders late in the year often pass their anxiety onto buyers that don’t want to be pressured to buy. A seller’s usual sales techniques can be compromised and sales can be lost.
In December some of the most optimistic people are sellers that are below 50% YTD of quota, but confident they can close more than half of their business in the last 30 days of the year. I’ve seen sellers, districts, regions and entire companies manufacture ways that they can make their numbers. It’s in sellers’ DNA to sprint to the finish regardless of how far behind they are 90+% into a race.
Finishing years in this manner creates problems:
1. There’s usually no margin for error and therefore they are likely to come up short.
2. If they pull off a miracle they enter a new year with higher quotas and nothing in their pipelines. They need the first 2 months to build pipeline and are working the equivalent of a 10-month year in terms of booking revenue. This sets the stage for the potential for a stressful end of the following year.
3. The worst outcome is emptying pipelines and still coming up short.
We could all use less stress in our business and personal lives. My suggestion for sellers as the New Year approaches is to consider dividing your annual quota so that you look at your YTD position every month (12 small increments) rather than wait until sometime later in the year. By doing so, you can see what if any shortfall there is from being YTD and adjust your activities accordingly, understanding bus dev activities must increase if you are falling behind.
Another suggestion is to project a sales cycle ahead based upon your historical close rates. This can be especially helpful with large transactions where you have an idea of when they will close, especially if you have negotiated Sequences of Events with the buying committee.
Striving to be at least year to date against quota 12 times a year should minimize December fire drills that put pressure on sellers and buyers. I wish you Happy (and less stressful) Holidays.