Learning from Q3 to Dominate Q4Oct 03, 2023
Once again we wrapped up another quarter.
Reminds me of my glory days on the basketball court blaming the ref for the call in the final moments and saying they lost the game for us. Really? In college, you have 40 minutes in a game and leave it up to the final play and that’s why you lost? Same call made in the first 10 seconds of the game and you forget about it. So why is the final moment the decision maker?
Same with the end of the quarter (or month… whatever your timeframe is)
Why do we blame the buyer for not signing or the legal team for taking too long of why you missed your target?
Reality check… there are things that make or break your quarter beyond that 1 or 2 deals you didn’t get.
- Having enough pipeline to get you there.
- Asking the right questions throughout the process
- Engaging them throughout the entire process
Let’s break it down:
1. Having Enough Pipeline
This is one of the most common problems that drives me crazy. There is nowhere near enough pipeline to hit your number. If all goes perfectly, and everyone signs then you hit it. Even worse… what’s in the pipeline shouldn’t be there anyway. It’s not qualified. Sales reps hold onto it because they need something but it’s false hope and bad forecasting.
- NEED 3X Pipeline… real pipeline.
- Real pipeline = they have pain points or problems you solve, it has a big enough impact that they want to solve it and it’s all coming from the buyer. (Not the sales rep assuming)
2. Asking the right questions throughout the process
I don’t know what it is about asking tough questions and why so many are so scared to do so, but it’s a real problem. What I have seen is a fear that if they ask questions about value for them or anything holding them back, they will hear that there are problems. If there are problems, you will have to admit it’s not a real deal and it needs to be closed out.
There is nothing worse than losing a deal to a competitor or even not taking action at all because they assume something that you really can do for them.
“We went with “competitor” because they do X” …. wait, we do X way better than them.
This happens all the time and can be prevented by asking questions and finding out that they were looking for something that they didn’t know you did.
- Asking the tough questions throughout allows you not only to gauge interest but also to see where there are concerns for them.
- When you know their concerns, you know what to focus on and how to help.
When it comes time for closing… You need to ask simple questions. Here is what I mean. A sales rep will have a close date for a deal. My question to the sales rep… does the buyer know they are signing by that date? It’s always the same… blank stare back. My next question… what has to happen on their end to sign? Again blank stare back.
It’s simple… asking questions like “What needs to happen on your end to get this deal done” or “Any reason on your end we can’t get this signed by X date”
Just hoping that it will magically happen, is why so many close dates get moved a billion times. The dates were made up by the sales rep with zero input from the buyer.
3. Engaging them throughout the entire process
Engaging isn’t one of the steps, it’s the entire process. Discovery and focusing on them (not your checklist to “qualify”. Demo that is focused on their specific pain points. ROI is focused on the value to them that comes from what they have told you about the impact this would have on them to not make changes and life with you.
Here is my rule… Every follow-up focuses on the value to them.
Here is what I mean… you don’t send an email about checking in or any questions or have you had a chance to talk with the team WITHOUT adding something about the specific pain point and/or value to them.
EX: What questions have come up around helping you increase your close rate to get you on track to consistently hit your sales targets?
EX: Anything you need from me for the agreement? Excited for your team to finally get the pipeline they need to close more deals.
Each follow-up should be focused on addressing their specific pain points and highlighting the benefits they will gain from our solution.
Why… you think about your company and product ALL. DAY. LONG. They do not. They are juggling so many different things. Maybe they are looking at your competitors. They may even be evaluating several unrelated services. Remind them about what you are solving for them so they always remember those feelings they had with you and what you are going to do for them.
Taking Ownership of the Sales Process
This one is a big one for me. Of all the little tips in here, this is the one that has paid dividends in my career. Take ownership of the outcome.
- Did I demonstrate enough value to the prospect?
- Did I help them get a sense of urgency?
- Did I involve all the right stakeholders?
- Did I cover all their concerns?
I don’t create the value… they tell me the value and it’s my job to help them see it throughout.
I don’t create the urgency… they tell me their current world and what’s life without it, and I help them see it.
I don’t choose who needs to be involved… they do and it’s my job to find ways to include AND speak to their specific needs (they are all different).
I don’t get all their concerns unless I dig for them. Assume they have them and it’s your job to uncover them before they pause, go a different direction, or “ghost you”.
Why is this the most important thing? By taking ownership of both the good and the bad I was able to learn exponentially. The good things I was doing, I was able to do more of it. When I lost, I figured out where I missed to fix it for the future.
TLDR: What you do throughout an entire quarter is what impacts your outcome. Don’t blame the last few weeks or events… take ownership.
P.S. Remember, success lies in the details. Keep asking the right questions, addressing pain points, and demonstrating the value of your solution.
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