Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tips For a Strong Close to Your Sales Quarter

The end of the quarter is fast approaching. And for sales professionals there are only two outcomes.

Will you finish in the red, or in the black?

Winning near the end of a quarter is a trait of all the best sales people I’ve ever met. And while closing out strong is primarily the effect of a consistent quarter, there are still a handful of things you can do to strike off checkboxes in the win column.

We consulted with sales closing expert Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group and she offers up some powerful tips to help you close your quarter strong.

1. Be Direct 

There’s no substitute for being pleasantly persistent and respectfully blunt. Get out there and be straightforward. One of Trish’s favorite questions is to ask customers is: “If you were me, would you forecast this deal to close this month?"

Remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Being direct will help you get real with your customer and align yourself with the true sales cycle. It might also enable you to pull out a quick win.

2. The Quid Pro Quo 

Prospects are always asking for ‘extras’ like discounts, special service, or that unique integration quirk. Even if these requests are within the scope of what you’d typically provide, respond with a “yes - if request” from your end.

It could work like this: “If we give you those terms, then we’ll need you to authorize the deal by the end of the quarter” or “I’ll talk with my manager and if she greenlights these provisions, could we have the purchase order by Monday?”

3. Use Your Executives 

Another surefire strategy Trish employs is using your executives to call your prospect executives. This tactic may enable you to get a deeper sense of the deal and what can be done to close it by quarter’s end. Your executive team can be a very effective and persuasive resource for you - use them.

4. Stack-Rank Your Prospects 

We will never be able to manufacture more time, but we can manufacture more focus. Trish recommends looking at your pipeline and grading each opportunity on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being “highly closeable by the end of the period.” Then, focus your closing efforts on the 3’s and 4’s ONLY. You don’t have time to waste.

5. Purge Your Pipeline 

Almost every sales pro has them. They’re those big opportunities in the pipeline that you’ve been working for months. Everytime you think about killing them, you get a glimmer of hope.

Remove them.

They don’t deserve to be on your radar right now. Coming clean with yourself will open new vistas and invigorate you to add more productive opportunities to your pipeline.

6. Start Planning for Next Quarter 

How much revenue do you plan to book next quarter? And exactly how many new deals do you need to earn that? Knowing exactly what you plan to earn acts like a magnet that attracts business your way. Having this exact number also allows you to project your required activities into month one of the new quarter.

If you’re accurately measuring your deal metrics, you’ll be able to predict with some certainty how many calls, emails, demos, or opportunities you’ll need to make it rain.

One last suggestion: ask for a review by management. Knowing your numbers is one thing, but to positively affect the business, it’s equally vital to understand your ongoing culture fit and progression opportunities.

Bonus Tips: What NOT to Do at the End of the Quarter

1. Do Not Bring on Bad Fitting Clients Just to Make your Numbers 

Any client outside of your ideal customer profile will complicate servicing, produce a higher likelihood of churn or failure, and ultimately cost you more time and resources than it will be worth. Instead, focus on filling the pipeline with high quality leads for next quarter. It’s never too early to start filling the funnel.

2. Never Give Away More Than You’re Comfortable With 

It’s just not worth it. You only have one reputation for your brand and offering, treat it respectfully. Concessions can quickly become a crutch that hides other issues. Sell on value, not on price.
The key to closing out your quarter strong is to keep up the momentum that got you to where you are now. If you’re struggling to meet your numbers, it’s a time to embrace new sales insights and start building effective rhythm.

Take the last minute shots on goal listed above, but remember to always be thinking about the bigger picture: Your reputation is the product of your past actions. Sales that allow you to produce predictable revenue are the future.