How to fight your end of quarter sales crunch

Collin Stewart, CEO

11 December 2018

It’s nearing the end of the quarter (or month) and, true to sales manager form, you’re starting panic. Your team hasn’t hit its numbers, and they’re working full steam ahead, pressing to close any and every deal they can.

Sound familiar? (I hope so…or I’m doing something terribly wrong *wink*).

It’s a funny, complicated thing, the end-of-quarter push. On the one hand, every sales leader would avoid it if they could. Why invite that pressure, right? 

Despite the stress and long hours that come with the winding down of a quarter, however, that frenzied push has become an almost accepted aspect of the job. Like clockwork, that rough stretch arrives and we muddle through.

To make matters worse, this cycle is actually costing us money in some cases. According to a study published last year by InsideSales Labs, end of month sprints result in lower deal sizes, and a significant drop in win rates. (Data for the study was gleaned from sales stats from 151 U.S. companies that, on average, have yearly sales of $360 million)

Figures from the report show that while sales reps do close three times more deals at the end of the month, they also lose 11 times as many from trying to force deals that aren’t ready. That represents about a 50% decrease in win rate. What’s more, is the deals that do close at the end of the month are, on average, 34.5% smaller.

But, like most unwanted occurrences, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can, with a few tweaks, make things easier. And we can make more money.

Get to know your top performers

There are numerous tactics you, as a sales leader, can put in place to control these less-than-desirable swells. Rest assured, we’ll detail those later in this piece. But I wanted to start with a more personal thought, an idea that will help you both devise a new sales management strategy and help build trust and camaraderie with your team.

Interview your top performing reps. Do it – talk to them. Find out how they do what they do. Each sales team has at least one rep that consistently crushes their quota, and their secrets will surely be helpful to the rest of the sales org.

According to the smart folks over at Salesforce, there is one critical piece to remember when speaking with overachieving reps: they don’t always necessarily think what they do is special. They’re just doing their job. As a result, you will need to plan your questions in advance, and be sure to dig deep into their methods.

Salesforce suggests asking questions like these:

  • What do you think you do that is unique in comparison to your peers who aren’t performing as well as you?
  • What do you think you should do more often, but you just never seem to have the time?

As I mentioned above, don’t underestimate how important asking these questions can be in building trust with your top reps. It shows them you not only appreciate their productivity, but you value their thoughts and methods. It’s one part strategy, one part bonding exercise. And it will go a long way in establishing processes to stabilize your sales patterns.

 

A few new tactics

In addition to understanding, and implementing, some of the methods your individual team members already employ, there’s a host of tactics you can add to your internal sales processes to promote more consistent results.

  • Incentivize deals that close earlier in the quarter: This is a method that sales leaders have debated for years. It is true that sales professionals enjoy commission cheques, and if you offer a higher commission for deals signed earlier in the quarter, reps will work towards that goal. For example, you could offer “full” compensation for deals signed between the 1st and 10th day of the month, medium compensation for deals signed after the 10th and before the 20th, and the minimum compensation for deals signed after the 20th and before the end of the month. One point of caution: sales reps may want to push deals into subsequent quarters in the hopes of getting those higher commission rates.
  • Start doing your sales forecasting each week: Don’t wait until the end of the month or quarter to review your sales data. Start reviewing that priceless information each week. By doing so, you will consistently have a more fulsome (and up to date) picture of your pipeline. If a particular week looks light, you can quickly devise strategies to shore up any potential holes.
  • Ensure you intimately understand the buying cycles of your customers: Okay, this one sounds painfully obvious, doesn’t it? But, it bears repeating. If the industry you sell to historically has 3-month sales cycles, that will affect your numbers. And, as we learned above, forcing deals to close quickly to satisfy your quota will dramatically drop your close rates. So, to ensure you are managing your sales cycles effectively and giving your deals the proper timeline, you will have to ensure the pipeline is full and your SDR team is consistently booking enough meetings.
  • Encourage routine professional development: Let’s face it, scrambling for sales isn’t really a skill. Yes, getting prospects to sign a contract, at any time, requires some level of proficiency. But, the manic full court press to satisfy your quota is hardly the best illustration of savvy sales prowess. So, get your team members to consistently develop their chops – attend conferences, share informative resources, or host brainstorming sessions. Learning some new tips and tricks may help you connect more effectively with your prospects, and better manage your pipeline.

To be sure, there are more strategies you can, and likely do, employ to stabilize your sales org and get revenue on the books. As always, for those implementing new and unique processes towards this goal – we want to hear from you. What’s working? What’s not?

This is a battle we’re all fighting. It’s stressful. It’s time-consuming. And it’s costing us money. Let’s bring some predictability to those quarters.

Get in contact with our experts today.

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