How the best sales leaders prepare for the Q4 sales push
The last quarter of the year is often considered the most important. It’s when goals become realities and tough decisions are made.
Ideally, you will come out of Q4 with morale through the roof and your team excited to come back and start the next year just as strong. But preparing for the pressure and emotions that come with Q4 can be challenging.
The key is to ensure that you’re fully prepared for the uncertainty that lies ahead. In this blog post, we break down some of the things that the best sales leaders do to ensure that their Q4 is a great one.
Follow up with those leads
We know that 92% of salespeople give up after four “no’s”, but 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes”. So make sure your sales reps are following up with your prospects effectively to move sales conversations forward, and close deals before the end of the year.
The follow-up is a grossly underrated yet seriously effective way to reel in those prospects who have gone MIA over the last few weeks.
Perhaps your contact is “too busy to talk right now,” or your email got buried amongst the hundreds of other emails flooding their inbox in a given week, or they needed “more time to think.” Whatever the situation, they haven’t actually given you their final answer.
So what do you do?
You follow up, and you keep following up, until you get a yes or no.
People often fear that they’ll annoy their prospects by reaching out too frequently, but if you haven’t gotten a clear response, the door is open for you to keep trying. Don’t wait for them to get back to you; you want the sale, so reaching out is your responsibility. You just have to decide how much you want that deal.
The key to a good follow-up strategy is consistency, persistence and practice.
Our sales CRM with built-in calling, emailing and texting makes it easy to stay on top of your follow-ups. Whether you want to automate your follow-ups with Close's email sequences, or manually set follow-up reminders for your emails, text messages, and calls. But whatever tools you use to follow up, keep these principles in mind:
- Keep your subject lines and follow up emails short and conversational
- Use the 1-2-3 formula for your follow up emails
- Always have a clear and focused CTA
- Have a multi-channel follow up plan in place: Use emails, call them, drop voicemails, and text them (our own sales team is seeing big wins when following up via SMS!)
Learn more about following up with your sales prospects here.
Get on the phone
Email and texting are powerful tools. But the most powerful medium to move sales conversations forward is the phone, or even better: a video call.
The goal of your emails and text messages should be to get them on a call with you. Then have a conversation, learn more about the details of the current situation, and either ask for the close right away or figure out ways to accelerate the buying process.
It's now or never: Create urgency
One of the best ways to create urgency is to ask question that make it crystal clear that delaying or postponing a buying decision can become costly.
Tell your prospect: "Based on our conversation, we know that your combined team is spending around 60 hours every month on unnecessary manual data entry, which costs your company thousands of dollars—not to mention that they could otherwise focus on revenue-generating activities that would help you exceed your numbers. Every month, that's another 60 hours of productive team time lost to mindnumbing data entry. What would it take for you to become a customer this week?"
But there are other ways to create urgency in sales:
You’ve seen messaging like “While supplies last” or “For a limited time only.” This type of language has long succeeded at persuading us to make purchases by tapping into a common psychological fear:
The fear of missing out (FOMO)
Why does this work?
Well, studies have suggested that we humans are averse to losing out. We don’t want to lose what we have, or even what we think we have.
If your prospects are considering your product and think they have all the time in the world to make a decision, light a fire under them. They either decide now, or risk having to settle for a worse offer—or maybe even lose out entirely.
One way you can inspire urgency is by letting your contacts know that your pricing is going to be changing in the new year. If they act now, they can get grandfathered into a lower price. This is a great way to close those who repeatedly say they don’t have time to decide right now, or those whose favorite responses are “maybe” and “I’ll get back to you.”
If saving money is a priority for them, and if your solution is really something they can see themselves benefitting from, there’s no reason to wait another week, another month, another six months... there’s no downside here. They either buy right now, or you get a clear no and can move on to the next prospect.
Here's some more ways to make them an offer they can't refuse:
We're generally not big on advocating discounts, but sometimes just telling them "If you buy this week, you'll get a 10% discount for the next year, so you'll save $x,000."
- Special features or higher tier plans
"If you buy in June, you're going to get the business version of our product for the basic price plan."
It's basically also a discount—the difference is that you increase the value rather than lower the price.
- Buy 1, get 2
"If you buy in June, you'll get a free seat for every seat that you purchase. So if you buy three seats, you'll actually get six seats." Buy 1, get 1 free works for SaaS businesses too :)
- Special services
"If you buy this week, you're going to get our Advanced Customer Acquisition training package for free." Think about special support packages, consulting packages, training, onboarding ... whatever it is. Any kind of special service to help them succeed with your SaaS product. (For example, look at HubSpot's $3,000 Professional onboarding package. Lowering the price of this package, or even giving it away for free, can be a great incentive to push a stalling prospect towards a quick purchasing decision. At Close, we offer a free assisted CRM data migration)
Ask existing customers for referrals
If you want to hit a certain number, asking for sales referrals is often the best way to hit your end of year sales targets.
You can reach out individually to high-value customers, or automate your referral ask. Ideally you even give them some kind of incentive—e.g. tell them they'll get a free month, a discounted month, a free upgrade that unlocks a higher-value feature for them, or a personalized consultation.
Get the referral before the close
At the end of a successful sale, you might ask your new customer for a referral. This is a great way to keep your pipeline built up with quality leads. Well, what if I told you that you could ask for the referral before you close the sale?
Let me explain…
Sometimes there’s another way to get to what you want. Rather than making your interaction all about the end transaction, widen the lens and show them that the relationship between the two of you is bigger than that (yep, I’m a poet).
If a prospect doesn’t feel like you’re just trying to sell them, they’ll be more at ease and more open to listening to what you have to say. This, in turn, takes some pressure off of you. It’s like an ice breaker that also sets you up nicely for the year ahead.
You could broach the subject by telling your contact that you’re really looking to ramp up for Q1, so this is ideal timing to begin reaching out to folks they think could also benefit from your solution.
Now, you wouldn’t pull this strategy out on just any lead. It’s best reserved for someone you know already or whose information you also received through a referral. This is also a good follow-up idea when your prospect has indicated that they have no interest in what you’re selling.
Can you close any opportunities in your pipeline faster?
Maybe it typically takes you 6 months to close a deal. But sometimes there are ways to shorten the sales cycle:
- Map out the prospect's buying journey
Ask the prospect what all the steps are that are involved in becoming your customer. Clearly map it out, get a specific timeline, and then review all that and try to come up with ways to accelerate the process.
- Parallelize processes
If you're selling a larger deal into a company and different departments are involved, rather than dealing with one department after another, find opportunities to run things in parallel. E.g. while you're working out details with the IT department before, you can already coordinate with their legal department on the kind of contract they're looking for.
Get straight to the decision maker
If you want a clear answer, sometimes you’ve got to go directly to the person in charge.
If things are tight from now till the end of the year, you don’t want to waste any more time. Talking to the wrong person is a surefire way to slow you down.
Instead, you want to reach the decision-maker, whether that’s the CEO or the head of a particular department. You want to identify that person early on and set up a call with them. This accomplishes two things:
- It clarifies whether your product is a good fit for their company
- It gets you to the “no” faster.
That second point may be throwing you off—you may be saying, “Well, why would I want to hear no?”
So that you can get immediate clarity and move on to prospects that are more likely to close.
Your goal is to get a thumbs up or thumbs down on your pitch, and to avoid the delay that happens when someone has to “check with the boss” for final say.
Ensure that morale is at an all-time high
It's easy to start fast and furious, but few sales teams finish strong.
When the goals are set, the dreams are new and the ideas are flowing, everyone is on a high. But when the end of the year comes and things aren’t looking so smooth, it often takes a push from your sales leader to get the team excited to deliver.
Try an open discussion about where things sit today, and maybe it’s time to embrace an internal sales leaderboard that offers transparency to everyone.
No one will want to be at the bottom, so the competition will fire your team up. Or find creative ways to make sales reps team up, support each other, and receive rewards based on more frequent (weekly) performance checks.
This will nurture a deeper sense of camaraderie, inspiring even your lowest performing sales reps to do better.
Invest extra time in 1:1 training and coaching
This is the time to invest in your people.
The stakes are high, and if morale is where it needs to be, then your team’s desire to succeed will be high too. Your team is going to be more receptive to critique when they know what’s at stake: This is their final shot at reaching their goals. The holidays are around the corner, and bills are coming due.
Invest the time in your team now and reap the benefits later. If you’re a sales leader, Q4 is the time to sit down with your team and work on their challenges one-on-one.
Do sales call reviews with your reps. Review your team’s sales pipeline. In these moments, you can strengthen your ties as a team as well as give valuable feedback and coaching they’ll be especially receptive to.
Give your prospects the VIP treatment
Sometimes involving on of the C-level executives from your own company can help move a deal forward quickly. It can be something as simple as reaching out to your CEO and asking them to email the prospect and express that they believe your solution is the right one, and that they'd love to have them as a customer. (Pro tip: Pre-write the email for your CEO, to make it easy for them.) All of the sudden it's no longer "just a salesperson trying to close a deal", but a CEO or founder putting the power of their reputation behind your pitch.
Sometimes someone in the leadership team might know someone in the leadership team of your prospect company—in those cases, having them reach out can also help close the deal faster.
Don’t ignore the Q1 leads coming through the door
You should never lose sight of your sales pipeline.
It’s important to focus on the leads that are likely to close this quarter, but you can’t lose sight of the relationships in your pipeline that are more likely to close in Q1.
It’s easy to keep track of opportunities when you’re using Close because the reporting dashboard gives you all the info you need in one place:
With the end of the year looming, sales reps often over-invest in the prospects they can close NOW, neglecting the leads they can close later. If you’re a sales leader, you can’t allow your team to ignore new leads just because they’re less likely to close before the new year—that will set your team up for a challenging Q1.
Set the focus on hitting quota for Q4, but don’t put blinders on.
Recognize that mid-to-late December might be a ghost town
I’ll be the first to tell you that yes, deals DO get done in December.
But I’ll also be the first to tell you that some buyers are going to be completely off the grid from the middle of December to the first or second week of January. It’s just part of the game.
Don’t let this impact your mindset and halt your output. Convey to your team that some people will simply be less engaged than usual during this final sprint.
The key is not to take it personally—if you establish this expectation up front, it’ll be easier for your team to deal with the silence without getting discouraged.
Push to get the decision maker on the phone
You don’t want to get the runaround at any point in the year, but especially not in Q4.
You want to get your nos quickly and move on to prospects that are more likely to buy. Limiting discussions with people who can’t make a decision and avoid tire kickers.
Their intentions might be good, but if the deal is unlikely to get across the finish line before Q1, you need to let the contact know that you’d like to pick back up with them in the new year when their boss, manager or CEO is available.
In Close, you can create a Smart View that shows all leads with a high likelihood of closing and call them using our built-in predictive dialer. When time is of the essence, empowering your team with the right technology so they don’t have to manually dial leads is even more important.
At the end of the day, no matter what strategy you choose, you’ve got to be prepared to…
Put in the work!
When it comes time to give that final push before year-end, you got to stay on track and focus on the tasks that drive results.
Reaching out, posing the ask, following up and closing the sale—it all requires consistency.
You have the strategies you need to make Q4 the best yet. You have the direction you need to make your team deliver. You have the tools to turn prospects into customers.
So close this window, open your CRM (hopefully it’s Close.com), and start implementing.
Go get ’em!
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