Meridith was voted one of the top 15 business growth experts to watch, largely because she is passionate about helping clients learn strategies to succeed in any economy.
4th quarter complications
Meridith calls the 4th quarter of the year her favorite because typically organizations have relaxed a bit and let their guards down. That presents an opportunity for other organizations to put on what she calls a full-court press while everyone else has relaxed.
Everyone takes their foot off the gas at the end of the year. They’ve been working hard all year, and they have achieved decent numbers, so they aren’t worried about driving sales in the 4th quarter.
They are tired, and when Thanksgiving rolls around, it’s followed soon after by Christmas. The cold weather makes it an easy time to be a bit lazier. She calls it the perfect storm of sales laziness.
You must keep selling during the 4th quarter to keep that quarter strong. Additionally, though, sales has a lag time. The sales you make in the 4th quarter will determine how well your 1st quarter goes. If you don’t invest energy into 4th quarter sales, you’ll establish a self-fulfilling prophecy for the 1st quarter and you’ll be behind all year long.
Begin in October
It’s never too late to salvage the 4th quarter.
Proceed carefully, though. There’s a lot happening in the 4th quarter and your clients and prospects have to-do lists of their own.
Establish a plan, and identify a sales leader who will focus on driving sales in the 4th quarter. Even if you don’t have one, determine who you need to connect with during the 4th quarter. List your top clients, your best prospects, and those who could be doing more business with you.
Once you have that list, design the touches. Focus on thanking them for an amazing year and let them know you’ll get in touch with them at the first of the year to establish a plan for the next year.
Plan for sales in January
If you want your January to be productive, you must lay the groundwork in December by booking appointments.
By connecting with people at the end of the year and again in January, you keep yourself visible with your most important customers. As a bonus, you’re likely to find organizations that need to dump money before the end of the year to avoid paying taxes.
For those customers who haven’t yet committed, you’ve taken one more step to move forward at a time when everyone else is resting.
4th quarter trouble
If you haven’t hit your numbers by the start of the 4th quarter, you’re likely in trouble. Desperation sets in and you make decisions you wouldn’t otherwise make.
Meridith said that when she consults teams, she often finds that 4th quarter is their greatest struggle. She insists that buyers can smell desperation and they aren’t interested in working with desperate sellers.
When your 4th quarter strategy focuses on thanking them for their business and coordinating for the 1st quarter of the following year, you lose the smell of desperation and you end up making deals.
You’re also setting yourself up strong for the new year so that next year’s 4th quarter won’t end badly.
Give up the day
If you’re listening to this episode and you haven’t hit your numbers for the year, let it go. Think of it as cheating on a diet and realize that you’ll do better next time.
If you push hard to make your numbers now, you may get there, but you’ll likely drive your customers away. Instead, focus on staying visible and starting 2019 really strong.
You’ll maintain your credibility and you’ll keep your focus on the buyer instead of focusing on yourself. You can’t play basketball by focusing entirely on the scoreboard.
You have to look at the ball. You must keep your focus on the prospect.
The reality for sales leaders is the same for sellers. If your team hasn’t hit its goal by the 4th quarter, you don’t want to give up the lifetime cycle of a client in an effort to make last-minute sales.
Take responsibility for the fact that your team didn’t hit the goals. As a leader, you have total responsibility for those goals. You must give them the strategy, the plan, and the accountability to achieve their numbers in the next year.
Begin with an autopsy of the things that prevented you from hitting your numbers. Resolve to learn from your mistakes, and do it as a team.
Determine the things you did really well, and try to identify where you lost deals.
Meridith calls it seeds, weeds, and needs.
Seeds are those things we need to keep doing in order to drive growth. Weeds are the things that weigh us down and get in our way. Needs are the things we need to be doing that we aren’t currently doing.
Make sure to include a plan for how you’ll measure your success and how you’ll stay accountable. Learn from each other.
Make it safe to fail
If someone on your team loses a deal to a competitor, make it safe for your team to evaluate what happened with the deal and to coach each other toward success in the future.
If you have discipline issues, keep those separate from the coaching environment.
You must make it safe for your team to share what is working and what isn’t working. Help your team develop those skill sets to succeed.
Fill a dry pipeline fast
If you find yourself in the 4th quarter without the numbers you need, Meridith has a few ideas to help you fill a dry pipeline fast.
Before you try them, commit to keep yourself out of this situation in the future, but use these for emergency situations.
Make a list of your 10 best customers and do a holiday check-in. During the call, ask about their goals moving forward.
You can find the rest of the ideas in Meridith’s blog here, but use these sparingly, and refuse to put yourself in this situation again next year.
Fourth quarter is a major opportunity. Don’t treat it as a time to take your foot off the gas.
“Driving Sales in the 4th Quarter” episode resources
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