The end of the year is upon us! While everyone else in the office is ready to start their holiday vacations and celebrations, Q4 can be one of the most stressful times of the year for you and your sales team. The end-of-year pressure is on to hit your fourth-quarter sales goals and make your sales plans for the new year.
In this article, we’ll help take the pressure off by sharing some steps you can take to end your year strong and help you ring in the new year! The steps discussed in this article include:
1. Wait to take vacations until January
While many employees may have the luxury of taking off for the holidays, businesses (large and small) do not have the luxury of completely shutting down. While half the office is away, there are still people working. So, the common belief that “nothing gets done” between Thanksgiving and New Years is a misconception, particularly in the world of sales.
According to our State of Sales Report 2019-2020, October to December is the most successful selling period for salespeople, with 30% of respondents choosing that quarter. So, don’t cut your quarter short and cheat yourself out of more potential end of year sales.
Previously hard-to-reach prospects, who are typically too stressed-out or busy to talk any other time of the year, may be working at a slower pace. They may also be more receptive to a conversation at the end of the year.
Postpone your vacation until January to squeeze in as many calls and meetings while prospects are not working too hard. Capitalize on this slow time to strengthen relationships, close more deals and end your year strong.
Even if you or your sales team don’t make a ton of December sales, you will, at the very least, be able to determine what next steps to take with those prospects and possibly close those sales in the new year.
2. Tidy up your pipeline
At the end of the year, having too many loose-ends in your sales pipeline can work against you and your sales team. With only a limited time to make end of year sales, it’s important that you remove any “distractions”, or deals that won’t likely result in a closed deal, from your pipeline. The end of year sales push should primarily focus on deals that are more likely to close before the end of the year and bring in revenue.
How do you determine which prospects to remove? Here are a few questions for you and your sales team to ask as you filter through your prospects:
- Do they take you and your product or service seriously?
- Are they a good fit for your service or product?
- Do they have an urgent need for your service or product?
The answers to these questions can likely be determined from prior communications with the customer. If the answer to any or all of the above questions is “no”, then remove those prospects. Now is not the time to waste on prospects that aren’t serious, aren’t a good fit, or don’t have an urgent need for your business.
If the answer is unknown, the end of the year would be a good time to reach out to the prospect and find out the answer, so you’ll know where they fit in your pipeline. Another simple question that you and your sales team could ask a prospect, in order to save valuable time, is ”Do you think it’s likely that you will make a purchase of our service/product this month?” If the answer is “no”, simply move them into your pipeline to contact in the new year.
3. Have New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve or just December sales
While you may be looking to close new business to make your end of year sales goals, it may take too long. Therefore, it may be easier, and faster, to sell to existing customers by having a New Year’s Eve sale or Christmas Eve sale.
Look at your customers’ purchasing activity, see what they have bought and when, and then ask yourself and your sales team if they are buying everything they can possibly buy from you? The fact is that not all of your existing customers know all the products you sell and this could be a good time to upsell by giving them an extra incentive to do so now with an end of year sale.
Existing customers are the easiest prospects to target to put more end of year sales on the book quickly. They know you and trust you. Plus, since they’re already set up to buy from you, there won’t be any delays in serving them
4. Don’t overlook key sales activities
While you should focus on prospects that you can close by the end of the year, you should not make the mistake of overlooking key sales activities. Doing so could set you, or your sales team, up for failure.
What are key sales activities? These are actions that have the highest impact on your sales goals and help set the stage for next steps in the new year. Key sales activities typically fall into three distinct categories:
- Sales pitches (or approach)
- Discovery calls
- Sales demos (or product/service introductions)
In short, the key to ending your sales year strong is focusing on closing what you can without ignoring the other activities that will keep your sales funnel healthy and functioning well.
5. Create a report of the year
Your end-of-year sales report can help you understand why your salesperson of the year broke records and why another can’t get a deal past the second stage in the pipeline. It can reveal if you’re going to hit your annual targets or if you must make some drastic changes to your sales process.
There are many tools that will take your data and automatically generate this information into reports for you. Pipedrive, for instance, has reporting features that will easily provide sales insights and reports from your sales data.
Here are some key reports/features that will benefit both you and your sales team as you analyze your year and formulate your plan for the coming year:
- Obtain deeper insights with visual reports. Create tables and charts that help you and your sales team visualize individual performance and conversion rates, in addition to identifying opportunities for improvement.
- Create customizable reports. Customizable reports allow you to see the number of new deals added, number of open deals, age of all deals and stage-to-stage conversion for sales deals for a specified time period.
- Create customizable dashboards. Customizable dashboards allow you and your sales team to track goals with ease by creating, tailoring and filtering visual sales dashboards.
6. Celebrate your salespeople
Let’s face it, without a stand-out sales team, it’s difficult to take any company to the next level. Therefore, it’s important to celebrate their hard work by rewarding their efforts at the end of the year. Celebrating your sales team can be beneficial for several reasons:
- Higher sales team morale
- Competition on a friendly level
- Attract more good sales talent
- More motivation to do a good job
Sure, you could have a ‘salesperson of the year’, but why just celebrate the success of one salesperson when you can reward your entire team. Celebrate each person for what made them stand-out. Have your own ‘Dundies’ with awards for things like:
- Best cold caller
- Funniest follow-up email
- Best team player
- Most creative sales tactics for closing
- The biggest sale of the year
What are some possible ways you can show appreciation? Here are some ideas:
- A corporatewide shoutout. Whether it’s an announcement in the company newsletter or an all-staff meeting, giving someone praise for their performance goes a long way.
- Personal days or time off. The person who brings in the most revenue by the end of the year could be given five personal days (after December, of course), the next spot, four, the next spot, three, and so on.
- Have an awards party. A company potluck where the top salespeople of the year are exempt from bringing anything but still get a gift, an all-expenses-paid dinner for your top 5-10 salespeople, or a karaoke night are all fun ways to celebrate the accomplishments of your top performers.
- An all-expenses-paid getaway. A weekend getaway to the Wine Country, a beach getaway, or a spa retreat are all great ways to provide a little rest and relaxation to deserving salespeople.
7. Plan your work and work your plan
The very habits you use to make your sales goals throughout the year are the same habits that will help you close out December and the year effectively.
If, for instance, you found yourself struggling through the year or you didn’t meet your end of year sales goals, there’s a chance that your sales pipeline isn’t optimized as well as it could be. If this is the case, revisit your pipeline structure and see what improvements can be made.
On the other hand, if your pipeline is relatively healthy, you might want to incorporate a new sales productivity tool next year to help achieve your end of year sales goals.
Whatever the end of your year is looking like, make sure to take a delve into the successes and failures of the last 12 months and use those valuable lessons to figure out ways to make things better in the new year!