How to Close the Sales Year Strong – and not Alienate Customers


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How can we salvage the quarter (or year)?  This is a common question among many CEOs this time of the year. Depending on the results from Q1 and Q2, the question has already been asked.  There’s a realization that ‘making the number’ will require a herculean effort.

What plays out next in many companies is the Q4 shuffle. It’s the mad scramble that may cause more harm than good.  Troops are assembled, marching orders given and sales madness is unleashed. Sure, this flurry of activity may have some immediate effect on the bottom line. However, what is the long-term fallout? Will you alienate customers and send them packing?

The scenario described above is one indication that your sales strategy may not be aligned with buyer needs. Our research shows 58% of companies have this problem. When a sales team does not align their strategy to buyer needs, friction results. Buyers may have a great experience during the self-directed portion of the buyer’s journey. But once the sales team engages, the experience degrades substantially. 

Our research report, “How to Make Your Number in 2015,” addresses the six most common sales strategy problems. The report is available here

Back to the question at hand, how can we salvage the quarter (or year)?  For companies asking this question, there are actions you can take without alienating your customers.  Here are three things to focus on before year end:


Flip the Funnel:

Yes, flip the funnel.  By doing this you can focus on the opportunities that are furthest along. Early stage opportunities are critical to long term success. However, your focus now needs to be on the bottom of the funnel.

Questions you should consider are:

  • Which opportunities are furthest along in the sales process (stages 4 or 5)?
  • Which opportunities warrant our time and attention?
  • Do we run the risk of losing the deal or the customer by pushing this through?
  • Did any opportunities move up in the sales process this Quarter?

Flipping the funnel amounts to focusing your attentions on the most mature opportunities. While you do this, ensure your team nurtures those deals which will help in the following quarters. 


Big Deal Reviews: 

Focusing on the Big Deal gets results. What qualifies as a Big Deal? Any deal that is 2x larger than your average sales price.   

We all know that one or two big deals can either make or break your month, quarter or year. The 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your accounts. It stands to reason that you should focus on big deals with your big customers. 

Too often big deals take too long because of lack of focus from the organization. Using everyone to land the opportunity shortens the sales cycle. Greg Alexander’s blog post provides more insight and direction on Big Deal Reviews

Resource Alignment:Resources

Resource alignment ties back closely to Flipping the Funnel and the Big Deal Review. The key is ensuring all the appropriate resources are put on opportunities that warrant the most attention.    

Everyone needs to contribute. Are you leveraging all of your available resources effectively? There are lots of people who could help close this quarter’s big deals. Oftentimes we see situations where smaller deals pull necessary resources away from the better or bigger deals. This can be a result of poor resource allocation. As part of your Big Deal Review, determine which opportunities take priority this quarter and adjust accordingly.     

A note to CXOs, we all know executive involvement can be the tipping point in most major deals. It’s not always enough to get sales leadership involved. You need to have those individuals involved who can say “yes” when everyone else is saying “no”.  Nothing cuts through red tape like exec to exec engagement.  


Making the number is never easy. It’s even harder when the pressure is on. As you wrap up the year, focus your attention on helping the customer in their buyer’s journey. If you do, you ensure they are around next year and for years to come.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joel McCabe
Joel McCabe serves as a Senior Consultant at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales and marketing consultancy focused exclusively on helping B2B companies exceed their revenue targets.


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