In sales, trying to do everything last-minute rarely goes well. That means now, late in the third quarter, you need to be laying the groundwork for the closing months of the fiscal year. Here’s how.
- Revisit your sales forecasts and projections.
When you began the year and even halfway through, you had a set of forecasts and projections. Now you need to look at your pipeline and determine your forecast and projections for the final quarter. It’s also important to be realistic – while many buyers might have funds left in the spend it or lose it budget, there’s also going to be a lot of competition.
Sales leadership should consider the option of creating a short sales contest or bonus structure tailored to the fourth quarter. This can be especially morale-boosting for those B and C reps who have year-to-date failed to make quota or are so far back in the race to Presidents’ Club their motivation might be flagging.
- Reconnect with previously interested prospects.
Perhaps earlier in the year or even before that, you had prospects who were interested, but for any number of reasons, didn’t buy. This is an excellent stage to contact them again and restart the conversation – it’s quite possible their situation has changed and they’re ready to buy either now or in the fourth quarter. It takes some time to pick up where you left off – especially if circumstances are different – so now is when you should be reviving the discussion.
- Start setting up your year-end calendar.
Once the holiday months hit, it can be quite difficult to secure meetings and appointments – people are either out of the office or have already made plans. That’s why you should be prospecting now as much as you possibly can and plot out your schedule well in advance.
- Consider year-end review meetings and appreciation activities.
The fourth quarter is a natural point to conduct year-end reviews with current customers. Find out what’s going well with the relationship, what they’d like to see improved, and discover how their needs have changed – perhaps there’s an opportunity to expand the business due to clients’ growth, for example.
Appreciation activities can also be beneficial. Whether it’s simply calling customers to thank them for the relationship, hosting a holiday gathering for prospects and current clients (great networking opportunity and chance for prospects to talk to existing clients and learn what it’s like to work with you!), or sending out a small gift, letting your buyer network know you appreciate them can pay off long-term dividends. Especially since the holidays are a time of year when people are naturally seeking to strengthen or visit emotional connections.
Whether you decide to do one or both, the planning period for sorting out the logistics of these get-togethers or activities starts now.
- Divide prospects and clients into fourth quarter and first quarter contacts.
While it’s important to conduct all these reach out activities we’ve mentioned, you only have so much time in the day, and the holidays further cut down on your available hours – particularly with so many people out of the office
That means you’ll need to split your contacts into those you’ll connect with in the fourth quarter and those that you’ll reach out to after the new calendar year begins. Look at your revised sales forecast and your standing in any contests – if you’re close to President’s Club or have a shot at winning a short sales contest, you might want to focus on those opportunities that appear most likely to close.
The fourth quarter can be an exciting, magical part of the sales year – filled with meaningful interactions and a fireworks close to the fiscal year. But time scarcity and complex logistics for typical year-end activities mean you’ll need to lay the groundwork now, before the calendar flips from third quarter to fourth.