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Sprint to the Finish — It’s That Time of Year…
Blog / For Sales Pros / Dec 23, 2014 / Posted by Ken Thoreson /

Sprint to the Finish — It’s That Time of Year…

A shaky banking industry. Roller-coaster days on Wall Street.  Budgets unknown. Purchasing decisions delayed.

With that economic domino effect affecting us all as the year begins to wind down, ending on a high note will be more challenging than ever. We’ve been offering the following advice to our clients and their sales teams:

Keep it in perspective.

Recognize that if you are in the information technology sector, it is the best place to be in tough economic times. You sell what’s especially in demand right now: Solutions that can increase efficiency, cut costs, and enhance customer relationships.

Stay optimistic.

Remember that clients and prospects are seeking help and you’re in a position to both reassure and assist them.

Work harder.

(Sorry, but that’s what’s needed.) Try to stretch yourself both in terms of attracting new customers and better serving existing ones. Sell professionally; execute brilliantly.

Meanwhile, the standard end-of-year scenario still applies, too. As always, this is when accelerated compensation programs kick in. More importantly, it’s when many management bonus systems take effect, rewarding executives for driving certain levels of pretax income to the bottom line or attaining their revenue targets.  and it’s no wonder that, just like every year at this time, sales teams feel like they’re in the last 100 yards of a big race.

Following are five additional steps to help you stay out in front as you approach the 2011 finish line:

Count the days.

In the same way that consumers track holiday shopping days, know how long you’ve got left to sell this year. Doing the countdown adds urgency to the process for you and your prospects. (Hint: How can you use the remaining weekends to boost business?)

Consider all your resources.

Can you turn to colleagues to strategize about opportunities and develop winning tactics? How about doing site visits? Can an existing client or a vendor contact help create credibility with prospects?

Plot-closing strategies.

Think about why prospects need your solution and exactly how they’ll benefit from implementing it — whether it’s generating revenues, improving productivity, or better serving customers. Then figure out a reason for them to act now. You may have a sense of urgency driven by end-of-year deadlines for quotas or bonuses, but you need to show prospects how moving forward at this point will benefit them.

Make contact twice weekly.

Never let a week slip by between meetings with prospects. If you see them on Tuesday, see them again on Thursday. Stop by at a convenient time — but always have a valuable reason to visit, such as providing an implementation plan or a reference letter.

Keep prospecting.

Sales organizations often drain their pipelines by the end of December. January may be strong with leftover business, but February, March and April typically lag. It’s important to ensure that marketing and prospecting levels remain constantly focused on future pipeline development. We recommend that you take your calendar and block out specific times for prospecting between now and year’s end.

One Last Tip

One last tip for coping with today’s economy: In the downturn following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I developed a short personal motto that successfully reinforced the need to keep moving forward. It was: “Take action. Stay positive.”  I suggest that you develop a similar slogan to help you navigate these difficult times. Having a strong foundation can make all the difference in how you end the year and position yourself for a new year!

About Author

Ken provides keynotes, consulting services, training and products designed to improve business and revenue performance. The past 4 years, Ken was ranked by Top Sales World Magazine as the Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers. Ken has 5 books, his most recent, SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers.

Author's Publications on Amazon

What's the number challenge for sales leaders and sales organizations? Recruiting and hiring top talent. While most sales organizations focus on creating a sales process to increase sales performance, they fail to develop an effective recruiting and interviewing process that attracts top talent. Then they…
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In Your Sales Management Guru's Guide series sales management expert Ken Thoreson teaches sales leaders the essentials for leading and developing high-performance sales teams. In this book, you'll gain skills and techniques for creating sales compensation plans that will take your sales team to the…
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In "Sales Management Guru's Guide to Recruiting High-Performance Sales Teams" you'll get detailed interview scorecards, interviewing questions, and sample job descriptions. Plus a bonus section dedicated to the new hire onboarding process.
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