We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling in sales as we near the end of another month … so how do you deal with the pressure of hitting your quarterly number? It’s not easy, especially without the proper guidance.
Brian Manning, SVP & Head of Growth at PatientPing, works to help startups grow their ideas and he is here today to share insight on how to deal with the pressure of hitting your quarterly numbers.
PatientPing is a care coordination platform that helps healthcare providers collaborate with one another on shared platforms. Brian has been with PatientPing for three years now. He oversees their sales, marketing, government affairs, and partnerships.
From a sales leader standpoint, Brian thinks of quarterly numbers in terms of the Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) for each layer of the business: the overall company ARR, the sales team ARR and the individual sales rep ARR.
Will, Should, Could
Sales reps often feel the pressure to perform and, as a leader, Brian likes to have his reps 3x their pipeline as they enter the quarter. As the quarter goes on, however, and things become more sophisticated, Brian moves on to the ‘Will, Should, Could’ method.
This method involves marking each deal throughout the quarter as Will Close, Should Close and Could Close. Wills usually equal about 95%, while Should is at 70% and Could is closer to 50%. The Sales Operation Team does this for each week for each rep to provide a projection for the quarter.
In this way, at any given week, the reps have a pretty good sense of where they stand in relation to their targets. Brian has found that the projections are smart and reliable.
The detective mindset
When sales reps feel pressure to hit their quarterly numbers, it is usually a result of a failure somewhere in the sales funnel. There might not be enough leads, the presentations may not convert into proposals, or the deals may be stuck in contract too long.
It is usually one specific thing that slows them down. It almost takes a detective mindset to figure it out sometimes, but it can be done.
A key factor in reducing the pressure of hitting your quarterly numbers begins with the numbers that are expected of the sales rep.
The rep needs to be comfortable with those numbers.
If they do not see a path toward achieving the goal set in front of them, they need to alert their manager right away – before the quarter even starts.
It should not be viewed as a sign of weakness, nor should a rep fail to come forward because of pride.
As a manager, Brian knows it is important to listen to his team. The territory could be bad, the ramp might be too quick, or the training may need to be improved.
He does, however, require an intelligent and well-thought-out conversation rather than simple excuses.
You never want to send a rep out to achieve a quota he doesn’t feel he can meet. It’s not healthy for anyone.
With their detective hats on, the manager and the rep can then work together to specifically analyze the territory, the opportunity, and the various stages that the deals are in.
It has the benefit of making the sales rep more effective which, in turn, increases the likelihood of hitting the numbers in subsequent quarters.
When the pressure is high or the number is high, it is especially important to take care of your health. Brian believes that nothing is insurmountable when you are feeling healthy and well.
A seller under too much pressure – one with any type of resentment towards the product or the company – will not be a seller who gives his best. It will translate into his performance and affect the clients and the sales.
When a salesperson puts his energy into dealing with the things that he can’t control – an imperfect product or lack of marketing team support, for example – the salesperson will always lose.
In Brian’s experience, the number one difference between a great seller and a not-so-great seller is that the energy of the great seller goes to the areas where he has control. Don’t waste energy on things that will not help you reach your numbers, or succeed.
Your energy, as a salesperson, needs to go into selling under the conditions you are in. This does not mean, however, that you should hesitate to flag issues. If there is something wrong with the product or the process, it should certainly be brought to the attention of management.
There will always be that one guy who wants to complain regardless of the situation. But those reps that can focus and channel their energy into doing what is best for their client are the reps that will succeed.
There is a seesaw to transparency. When a rep is doing really well and is on track to reach his quota, his manager will see it and will know the rep is doing fine. There is no reason to stress.
But if the rep isn’t doing well or the numbers are low, transparency needs to increase. Brian suggests something as simple as a weekly email to management to address what is working and what is not working. Being really honest and vulnerable in this way provides management with the information, and the opportunity, to improve the system. It helps everyone in the long run.
Many of us don’t like to admit when we are having trouble but it is always easier to address a problem when it is small rather than waiting until it is too big to handle.
Brian has found that, generally speaking, most sales reps that want to work for a start-up are self-starters. They are the ones who read sales books and listen to podcasts to further their own learning.
Over time, as a company grows, Brian will bring in sales trainers to coach and shadow. Until a solid infrastructure is up and running, however, Brian has created a system where his sales team sends out a weekly ‘Wins and Learning’ email to each other.
He also stresses that a good learning experience is more valuable than a big win. His team has become competitive to send out the best learning which scales across the team.
- Be analytical
- If you are doing well, document how you do it.
- If you are not doing well, document why not. Be honest and lead the charge into fixing it.
“Hitting your Quarterly Numbers” episode resources
Brian has maintained a blog for the past ten years at Briancmanning.com. He is also on Twitter.
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