How to Finish The Year with a Strong Q4
Fall is here, the scent of pumpkin spice is everywhere, and it’s Q4. Depending on how the rest of your year went, the next few weeks could be full of the pressure to reach impossible goals, or a complacency that lulls you into falling short of your fullest potential. But neither response is optimal for your sales game. So how can you approach the fourth quarter in a way that helps you finish strong without compromising your work-life balance?
Plan ahead, more than usual.
This is something you need to do all year round, but the next few months will have a number of distractions that require you to work around them. Most noticeably there’s the holiday season for the last week or so in December. Then there’s Thanksgiving and the weekend after. Then there’s Halloween, which isn’t such a big deal unless you have kids, or you like to dress up as (fill in your blank here) and head out for drinks. And in-between all of it there are holiday parties, holiday shopping, and kids home from school. It will be tougher to lock in important phone calls and meetings with potential customers and even current customers. However much time you usually give yourself to map out your sales plan, you’ll need to give yourself more time now, and work some empty space into your schedule to reschedule customers who suddenly realized they forgot some people on their shopping list. And don’t forget your own shopping list.
Review the past year.
Once everyone emerges from the holiday season, you’ll want to hit the ground running. So when are you going to review the past year and plan for the next one—between Christmas and New Year’s when you’d rather be on vacation? After Thanksgiving dinner when it’s time for the annual viewing of Home Alone? If you don’t want your annual reflections to take over family time or personal time, try to schedule them into your fourth quarter before holiday season. This is a great time to analyze your sales performance from the previous three quarters and think about what you might want to change about your sales process next year. You may even want to get a sales book to read while traveling or on some of those long winter nights. If there are patches of Q4 that are slower both inside and outside the office, that can be a time to work in a little learning and growing in your sales process.
Engage with your customers.
The holidays are a great time to touch base with all your customers, not only because of the proverbial Holiday Spirit but because it’s the end of the calendar year. They're going to be analyzing how Q4 and the rest of the year went as well, reflecting and planning for the year ahead. This is a great time to reach out to current customers and see how things are going in the solutions you’ve connected them with. It’s a great time to reach out to potential customers and see how their past year was. It’s even a great time to reach out to customers who ultimately rejected a deal and see what their plans are for next year. Q4 is a great time to deepen customer relationships by showing a little bit of care, even if it’s just a quick email. If you’re feeling a little more spirited, cards and gift baskets go a long way. Expressing genuine appreciation for the business relationship is an easy way to stand out.
Remember your team.
If you are a sales manager, don’t forget about your sales team. This will require a delicate balance of keeping them motivated despite the upcoming holiday breaks, and also understanding if the season takes away their concentration. Getting the office in a festive mood (or putting up a fun background on Zoom) can break up the monotony of the year; it can even help boost sales performance by pulling your team out of their routine. Shake things up with a holiday party or some catered food. Thank them for participating in the team with a card and/or a small gift. This can go a long way especially if your team has been isolated from one another due to Covid. Meet with all your account managers and review their year, discussing what they need to do in Q4 in order to meet their goals. And don’t just think about your immediate team. Think about the teams you work with as well, especially any key players in your process like sales engineers or customer success managers. You’ll be amazed how much smoother the sales process can go when the people you work with feel appreciated.
Q4 is yours!
Now what about 2022? Some people will be thinking outside of their current routine when they contemplate what went right and what went wrong in 2021. Sometimes the best holiday present you can give yourself is a new path in your professional life. If you’re thinking of growing in your sales journey and doing something different in Q1 of next year, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss.