For sales leaders, end of year brings competing demands to finish the current sales year strong while also getting your team ready to start fast next year. At a previous meeting of the Atlanta Sales Leadership Community, sales leaders from FIS, Ernst & Young, and ABB Enterprise Software shared tips to strategically navigate Q4. Keep reading to discover 3 keys to end the year on top and start the new year ahead:
- Stay Curious
- Streamline Communication
- Actively Plan
Encourage your team to question their knowledge of key deals as Q4 approaches. Asking specific questions about their strategies and plans to close key deals can clarify which deals will likely close in Q4 and which closing dates should be moved out.
This willingness to question their own work will help sales professionals better prioritize their own efforts, as well as benefit the entire organization. Attention and alignment with the buyers on the details for finalizing the agreement is critical due to the many moving parts and competing pressures within the buyer’s organization, your organization, and calendars that are quite fluid near year-end.
Over-confidence that a deal will close can lead to negligence in covering all the bases needed to close the deal. Decision processes and contracting processes often take longer than expected. It is better to know early if a deal will not pan out by end of year as it allows you to focus your resources on the deals that will close in the quarter.
Closing a deal is a multi-step process involving multiple players. Sales professionals must communicate within their organization to accelerate the time it takes to close their top priority Q4 deals. For instance: has your team been in communication with the finance department? Do you know what is needed on their end for a deal to close by end of year? Another practical communication step is for sales professionals to clean up their opportunities for the final quarter. Many salespeople may not realize the impact their pipeline has on the entire company.
Executives use pipelines to make end of year decisions and financial projections. Entering Q4, you as a sales leader must require your team to ensure close dates reflected in the pipeline are accurate with regards to Q4 opportunities. Accurate closing dates for Q1 opportunities are just as important when entering Q4, as this will enable a quick start in the new year.
As a sales leader, you must help your team keep Q1 in mind amidst the demands of Q4. Organizational expectations are high for both Q4 and Q1, so don’t make the mistake of only focusing on Q4. Practically, you should begin planning your sales kick off in Q3, make sure your go-to-market messaging for the new year is clear for your sales team, prepare and be ready to communicate the go-to-market messaging with aligned comp plans to motivate the team in Q1.
You can also encourage your sales teams to allocate a percentage of their time in Q4 to staying in contact with deals they expect to close in Q1. A helpful tactic: provide extra support to sales professionals through business development and marketing nurturing activities for future priority buyers, allowing the sales professionals to focus on closing Q4 deals. A strong finish to the year and fast start in the new year for a sales leader is a team sport.