How Sales Leaders Balance the Love and Hate of Q4


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There is nothing more stressful than Q4 for a VP of Sales. Couple that with preparing for 2014 and you are maxed out. You are sprinting to finish the current year. You are jockeying for a fair ’14 number. You feel like a human yo-yo. You need to balance the two.

Schedule a review of your 2014 plan at your office here. We will review your plan and leave you with suggestions to improve it. We will use Sales Leader’s Q4 Critical Path Guide.

During this session you will receive input on 3 critical path items:

  1. Your Number — How you can influence receiving a fair number from your boss.
  2. Your Customer — What has changed and how this impacts your plan.
  3. Your Talent — How to improve your sales manager’s performance.

You only have one chance to get a fair number, more headcount and more budget. Don’t miss it.

The Love and Hate of Q4

You love the pressure of Q4. Your calendar is jammed with big meetings. You are getting daily texts with updates on the largest deals. You are strategizing with Sales Managers and reps. This is your version of playoff time.

You hate the politics of Q4. Your boss is asking you to come to corporate. You are required to participate in planning sessions. To make matters worse, everybody in the planning sessions (finance, product, training, HR) has never made a number. You think to yourself “here I am justifying my number to people who don’t have one”. You have to play the game.

The implications of you not being deeply engaged in 2014 planning are many:

  • Bad EarningsYou get an unfair number. Once this happens, you have 12 months of making your base pay. Time to start looking for a job.
  • Talent ExodusYour team turns over. When the team sees an unreasonable number, they lose faith in your ability. It signals to them that you don’t carry any weight at corporate.
  • Career StagnationYou know how hard it is to recover from a bad year. You become expendable. Always easier to fire the coach than replace all the players.

How You Avoid Losing the 2014 Battle

Pick the right ones. You have been doing this long enough. You know that there are certain things your EVP of Sales has no control over. Focus on what you can change.

#1Customers & Prospects: The most important thing is your customer/prospect. Do you have a structured approach to understand how they buy through their eyes? In this report we heard from over 15,000 B2B buyers. The buyers are busy. They have a huge to do list. They are suffering information overload. They buy differently now than a year ago. If your sales process does not reflect an informed buyer, start there. A buying process map will help you solve this.VP of Sales

What You Get — A sales tool that maps the decision making process of your product or service.

What This Means to You — Your sales team can get in early and sell the way customers buy.

How This Helps You — You can impact Q4 deals while building new skills for a great start to 2014.

This tool will get you going in under a week.

#2Rep and Manager Skills: You are debating what training you should do at your Q1 sales kickoff. There are a host of options. Find out what your team wants first. Give them 4 categories that reps care about most. Territory, leads, compensation plan and their boss. Ask them one question. The answers will typically fall into one of the four categories

“What is the biggest obstacle standing in your way of making the 2014 number?”

Once you receive the answers back, focus your skill building on this area. It should be a program, not an event. It can be designed now and rolled out at the Q1 meeting. Leaving the Q1 meeting, you have a reinforcement plan. You will be addressing the core needs a rep has. For example:

Territory They need help targeting which prospects/customers have the highest propensity to buy. They might need help with account level cross sell strategies. You could focus Q1 training on detailed reviews of their patch at the account level. If this is what they want, no needs for some outside speaker delivering a 90 minute talk.

LeadsThey need more opportunities with target prospects because marketing cannot deliver all the leads. They know who they want, but they don’t have access. Focus Q1 training on modern prospecting using social selling. Show them how to generate appointments without any dependencies on others.

You can see the complete list of Critical Path Items here.

The Next 4 Weeks — Your Plan

  1. Walk through the Critical Path Guide.
  2. Strategize for the corporate meetings by using the preparation tool. This will help you get a fair number.
  3. Execute the rep and manager preparation. This will help you prepare your plan without disrupting your team in Q4.

The Sales Leader's Q4 Critical Path Guide

At times, you feel restricted by corporate. The critical path items will ensure you maintain balance between Q4 and 2014. It will give you the best chance to control your destiny. Is there anything else you are doing to prepare? Please leave a comment. Your peers would enjoy learning from you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Sharrers
Matt Sharrers serves as Partner of SBI. Matt works primarily in the Fortune 500 with clients including: Ryder, Integrated Device Technology, Informatica and Danaher. Matt is the author of "Promoted to VP of Sales: The Year 1 Toolkit". His work has been profiled in Sales and Service Excellence, Sales Journal Constitution and Leadership Excellence.


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