The Nutcracker in 2020 and 3 Critical Year-End Lessons for Salespeople and Their Managers

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Two Holiday traditions in one.  In mid-December each year, my family spends the weekend in Boston and we enjoy the Boston Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.  At the same time each year I repost a seasonal favorite, an article I first wrote in 2010 with 3 great sales lessons from the Nutcracker.  Please read my original post because it’s one of my best analogy articles ever!

But this is 2020 and everything is different. That is as true for the Nutcracker ballet as it is for my Nutcracker article.  So while we won’t be in Boston, we will stream a performance on TV and while there may not be any in-person sales calls, virtual sales calls can be quite satisfying in December.  Today’s article explores the three most likely December scenes in which you may find yourself as well as what you must watch for.

Scene 1 – The Year-End Discount – Chances are you have some closable opportunities that have been clogging up your pipeline for a while. Your prospects are just waiting for you or your sales manager to call and offer year-end numbers to which they can’t possibly say “no.”  If you sold it incorrectly, didn’t uncover their compelling reason to buy, didn’t provide the kind of value that differentiates you from your competitors, and your offering is merely nice to have, and not must have, a discount is probably the only way you’ll win this business in December.  You could opt to hold the line on price but one of your competitors will certainly offer the big incentive before the year ends so if you hold your ground, and they don’t have a compelling reason to choose you at the higher price, over your competitor at a lower price, you certainly won’t close this business this month.  It’s a reasonable penalty for not selling it correctly but performing the old song and dance instead.

Scene 2 – Money to Spend – You might also come across some fairly new opportunities that are moving quickly because the company has money in their budget that must be spent prior to the end of the year.  Money to spend and moving quickly might be music to your ears, but the reality is that it could cause your opportunity to spiral out of control.  When your prospect is moving more quickly than you are accustomed, the tendency is to move at their speed instead of slowing things down.  When you match their speed, the sales cycle becomes completely transactional, you fail to differentiate, and your conversation inevitably becomes all about price, causing an encore performance of the year-end discount.

Scene 3 – The Renewal – Some of your customers are approaching contract renewal time and you certainly want to avoid an intermission.  With this being 2020, the year that everything that can go wrong will, customers who have renewed in prior years without issue may be seeking pricing relief this time around. Your competitors have been talking with them for the past 60 days and making offers that sound too good to be true.  Unless you have a great relationship, have provided value for which they are truly appreciative, find you indispensable, and believe that there is risk in moving to a competitor, you are in danger of losing your business with that customer unless you cave to their price demands.

The theme common to all three scenes is that most opportunities are not being sold and managed correctly.  As we approach the New Year and contemplate our goals for 2021, upping your sales game to master these capabilities should be at the top of your list.  You should be indispensable to your prospects and customers and it should be obvious to them as you lead them through your sales process.

I will be posting two more articles before I shut it down for 2020 so stay tuned.

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