Peeking Ahead to Q1? Why Ignoring Q4 is a Very Bad Idea

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Recently, I heard a sales consultant tell a group of sales reps that they needed to forget about closing Q4 deals and turn their attention to laying the groundwork for 2014. The only value to Q4, this consultant argued, is that it presents an opportunity to get a jumpstart on Q1.

And he was dead serious.

I couldn’t believe it. Why would a salesperson treat Q4 any differently than the other three quarters of the year? The opportunities are still there and you’ve still got quotas, quarterly targets, and annual revenue goals to shoot for, don’t you? For me, quitting on Q4 to look ahead to Q1 is akin to a football team walking off the field in the fourth quarter of a game so that it can rest up or prepare for its next one. Have you ever seen that happen?

Throughout the years, I’ve consistently coached reps to recognize the value of Q4 sales and the potential prospecting opportunities the coming months present. Namely, you’ve still got time to close more deals and make more money (duh). And the more seeds you sow now, the better your harvest will be in Q1.

If for no other reason than to achieve those benefits, why wouldn’t you give Q4 your full attention?

3 Excuses for Abandoning Q4 (and Why They’re All Bogus)

In 25+ years as a sales executive and consultant, I’ve heard every excuse in the book for why Q4 is a dismal time for salespeople.

It’s the holiday season – prospects aren’t in the office and they don’t want to hear from me. I’m too far behind – even if I worked my tail off, I couldn’t make my number. To close any deal at the end of the year, I have to slash the price on my product and management just won’t let that happen.

What do I think about those excuses? They’re incorrect, self-defeatist drivel. Here’s why:

  • “No one wants to talk business during the holidays.” Do companies suddenly shutter their windows in November and December and ignore their biggest challenges or pain points? No. Someone is working and, believe it or not, it’s often easier to reach those people because they’re more relaxed and open to chat. Yes, it takes a bit more work to push a PO through, but it’s not an impossible task.
  • “There isn’t enough time left to do anything meaningful.” Most of the small and midsize businesses we work with have average sales cycles of 60-120 days for new clients. So, yes, there are some deals that just won’t close before year-end, but there are plenty of others that could. While we don’t have 120 days left, there’s still plenty of time left for add-on sales, upsells, and fast moving 30-45 day closes.
  • “Because it’s year-end, prospects and clients expect a discount.” Guess whose fault that is? Because so many sales reps now manage Q4 with such nonchalance, customers have begun to expect fire sales and slashed prices. When you sound desperate or frantic, prospects smell blood in the water and take advantage of the situation. When the tone of your emails and phone calls is confident and built around a clear business case, you can manage your prospecting with the same confidence you have in March or April.

Boom or Bust: How Will You Close Out Q4?

Over the course of the last six weeks, I’ve conducted and participated in four webinars that have shared more than 20 tactics salespeople can use to successfully close business in Q4 – and none of them involved resorting to desperate tactics to do so.

You can still make your quarterly and annual numbers. But in order to do so, you need to fully commit to the next few months just as you would the first few months of next year. The payoff for doing that can be significant. The payoff for quitting on Q4? I’m guessing you can figure that one out on your own.

Kendra Lee
Kendra Lee is a Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencer. She is a Prospect Attraction Expert, president of KLA Group, and author of the newly released book The Sales Magnet. KLA Group helps mid-market companies break through tough prospecting barriers to exceed revenue goals. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and events. To find out more about the author and her "Get More Customers" strategies, visit www.klagroup.com or call +1 303-741-6636.

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