By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

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As it relates to having optimistic or pessimistic outlooks, the majority of salespeople seem to lean toward the former. As sellers go through a year, it’s important that they temper optimism with a realistic view of where they stand against quota.

I have to confess in going through a co-op engineering school, I was a procrastinator. Semesters were 12 weeks long and after freshman year there were two semesters of classes and two of working an engineering job. It became clear that working was no day at the beach, so when returning to Boston for school, the first two weeks were just settling in and I went a bit light on studying. Prior to the wave of first exams in week six I usually would do some cramming to catch up. My grades were fine and it was just the way I navigated college.

sales training workshopA seller’s, manager’s or organization’s YTD position with 25% of the year gone can be very telling. If you are significantly below YTD, the second quarter may be critical in how the year will turn out. While you have 3 quarters to turn things around (do some cramming) I’d like you to consider a few sobering thoughts if wake-up calls aren’t heeded now:

  • For most organizations, sales activity slows during the summer months.

  • If you are behind halfway into the year, consider the length of average buying cycles and realize the runway is shorter than you might think.

Sellers and managers tend to look in the rear view mirror by focusing on YTD positions. In order to be less reactive and more proactive I suggest projecting a sales cycle ahead on an ongoing basis. Estimate your close rates (or use actual numbers from your CRM software) and apply them to your current pipeline. Project a sales cycle ahead and see if you have adequate pipeline to realistically get to at least YTD.

If sellers take a reality check on a monthly basis, it is far more likely they’ll avoid getting into situations where everything in their pipeline has to close in December in order to make their numbers.

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