The fourth quarter is here, and if your company’s sales reps are behind on their numbers, it’s make-or-break time. Luckily, it’s not too late to turn things around.
To win the sales revenue game, business owners must respond “like football coaches whose teams are behind at the start of the fourth quarter,” says George Ludwig, author of Power Selling: Seven Strategies for Cracking the Sales Code.
How? “Managers must adapt to the current economic downturn and find the smartest route to score big and score fast,” says Ludwig. Here are three ways:
1. Make believers out of them
Give salespeople your best “I have a dream” speech. Pull everyone together and talk from the heart about your belief that the game can still be won. Highlight the specific company and marketplace changes that are necessary for success.
Reinforce the message with one-on-one coaching. “Sales managers must encourage individual salespeople to kick some serious booty and take no prisoners in their pursuit of business,” says Ludwig. “Look for the good in your salespeople; catch and reward them doing things right.”
2. Be a time master
Sort out their selling funnels and create a short list. Determine which opportunities he or she should pursue. Come up with a short list (see box). After developing the list, have salespeople prepare a brief strategy plan for each opportunity.
Aim for the low-hanging fruit. Launch a Q4 sales promotion targeted at current customers. In hard economic times, customers want to make safe choices with their limited funds, so they look to companies they trust. This is a good time to offer price promotions targeted to hit the sweet spot of your customers who are in the best position to purchase by year-end.
Grease the skids with quick communiqués. Save precious time in Q4 by reaching out to your customer database, especially your identified targets, using e-mail, snail mail, fax and phone.
3. Coach ’em relentlessly
Stick to your salespeople like glue. Now is not the time to let salespeople roam free, says Ludwig. Coach them and make sure they’re executing the right sales practices at every interaction.
Cut reluctant prospects loose. If you think a salesperson is wasting time courting someone who probably isn’t going to sign on the dotted line this year, help him or her disqualify the target. Salespeople are by nature optimistic, and it may take you to nudge them toward another target with a greater probability of closing in Q4.
Keep the focus on the “best practices” checklist. Ask these questions:
- Is this really an ideal target for Q4 closure?
- Has the salesperson identified all key buying influences?
- Does the salesperson have a list of well-prepared questions designed to expand the relationship, diagnose the pain and advance the sales process to Q4 closure?
- Does the salesperson present the product or service in a way that creates a sense of urgency by the target?
- Does the salesperson overcome objections to sales roadblocks?
- Does the salesperson always seek commitment and closure to advance the sale?
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