In search of a perfect ending
For many companies, November spells the final countdown before the end of Q4. Indeed, a few weeks away from the Christmas break means it is time to not only take steps to close the final sales in the current year, but also to plan or validate the strategies, goals and budgets for the coming year.
Making a final sprint to end the year on a positive note
Many reference sites propose tactics for closing the year right while zeroing-in on established targets. If you have the opportunity to use a CRM solution, exploit it to help you develop year-end initiatives for your team.
Examples for an account manager
List the “low hanging fruits”, those sales cycles that could be completed by the end of the quarter, and prepare an action plan for each opportunity on the list to secure the win in the coming few days.
List the “neglected” accounts with which you have not had contact for some time, and organize a blitz to that effect in order to:
- position products and services and generate opportunities for the coming year;
- understand the account’s current reality and eventually attempt a quick sales cycle that could be motivated by an aggressive promotion.
Revisit the goals you assigned to the accounts found in your portfolio. Analyze the gap between those goals and your accounts’ actual consumption. (If that information is not available in your CRM system, ask the solution’s administrators if it is possible to add one or more fields that you could complete manually.) Why not try a mini-campaign for accounts with a larger gap than the others or for those that are close to their targets?
- Group those accounts in a marketing list prepared specifically for that purpose, and do a series of quick sales activities (emails, calls) arising from the targeted promotions.
- “Distribute” the activities by planning automated mailouts (email) or preparing callout lists that you can handle yourself or even assign to a member of your team.
Apply the Pareto Principle and define the 20% of your portfolio that brings in 80% of your revenues.
- Carefully review the “money-making” accounts (20%) in your portfolio so you can launch short term initiatives or even anticipate portions of planned projects for next year’s Q1. Plan on personally contacting (call or appointment) those more important accounts.
- Identify dormant accounts (80%) that might respond to a stimulus from you. Plan automated activities (email, calls).
- Cross-reference information on economic, social and political events (media, publications, focus groups, universities) with information about your accounts you have in the CRM system (industries, territories, sales figures, markets, and clientele) to drive out potential opportunities.
Examples for a sales director
- Analyze your teammates’ sales pipeline and offer your help to “close” key opportunities.
- Develop an emulation initiative that will encourage the updating of client portfolios and help increase sales activities and account planning. Use your CRM measurement tools to monitor the progress of the activities.
- Go over the team members’ goals and ask them to propose a simple, creative action plan for achieving those goals so you can track their progress in your CRM system.
- Run a social campaign on LinkedIn. Propose value added content and use LinkedIn tools to specifically target decision makers.
- Encourage your sales force to relaunch your offers on social media. Define an internal emulation program that will encourage your team’s members (and all employees) to share social content.
- Enhance the information you have on your clients by adding to your CRM system information you find on social media about your client accounts, markets and trends.
- Work closely with marketing to define short term targets and initiatives, take advantage of outside events and current events to drive interest: Embrace originality and risk differentiation.
Obviously, these year-end initiatives should not encourage unhealthy sales behaviors aimed only at short term success. The collateral damage from the war of achieving quotas or objectives is considerable and the risks significant. Using the strength of your CRM system to grow your sales is not synonymous with “selling anything at any cost…”
You certainly have your own ideas about how to “close the year” on a positive note, so don’t hesitate to share them with us, and we can coach you with the best ways of integrating those ideas into your CRM system.