If you chose Option 1, you might as well stop reading and go make another not-sale. If you chose Option 2, read on for two strategies of (not) selling to incorporate immediately.
Strategy 1 – Don’t Sell the Farm in Q4
What does it mean to not sell the farm? In practical terms, it means to focus your efforts and not try and sell everything to everyone. Your B and C players will fall into this trap in Q4 to try and salvage all they can. They would be better served to sell the chicken coop and a portion of the herd.
Sometimes you’re simply too far behind to catch up. Instead, sell to those who will convert for you ASAP. Send the rest to the back of the line. Here’s how you should do this:
- Segment your opportunities clearly into A’s, B’s, and C’s
- Don’t try and force all of your A’s, B’s, and C’s through the funnel in Q4. The funnel simply isn’t wide enough.
- Let the B’s and C’s roll forward to Q1 and strengthen next Year’s pipeline. Truth is, you can’t force the sales this year if the buyer isn’t ready. Below is a bonus strategy on what to do with your B’s and C’s.
- Focus on closing the A’s. They’re the ones who will give you the best chance to make your number (or at least get closer to it) in Q4. The key in analyzing your A opportunities is sales cycle maturity. Don’t get tripped up focusing solely on the size of the deal at this late stage in the year.
What does this do for you?
- Increases Focus: Nothing is less productive (or frustrating) than bouncing from task to task like a pinball. Paring down the number of opportunities in your sights is a great way to zero in on your goal.
- Leverages Time: By focusing on fewer opportunities, you’ll have more time to dedicate to helping those A’s along. Knowing which opportunities are the priorities will help you split time accordingly among the most important prospects.
- Creates Vision: You know that even if you don’t quite make your Q4 number, you have tons of B and C opportunities sitting in your pipeline just waiting to be pounced on in Q1 of next year. You’re not working from behind. You’re ahead! So sell like you’re ahead.
What to Do with Those B’s and C’s:
John Kenney provides a compelling suggestion in his article on the weak pipeline. He addresses the fact that most managers want to focus on A (stage 4 and 5) opportunities, when their efforts could be better spent on the B’s and C’s (stage 1 and 2) deals. When the manage flips his focus, you experience the slowdown to speed up effect where buyers are being served and moving faster through the sales process. It’s not an easy thing to do, but urge him to focus on the B’s and C’s in your pipeline. You don’t need him to close your A’s. You handle that.
Having the manager involved is a good thing. He’s your manager for a reason, so utilize him the best that you can. At this point, he is most useful priming your B’s and C’s for Q1. That way you’re both way ahead for next year. Perhaps in this process he’ll move one of those B’s or C’s to an A, and you’ll have another prospect for Q4. Added bonus.
Strategy 2 – Don’t Sell Your Product
Anyone can stand on the street and say, “This will solve all of your problems. Buy it.” In this case, it hardly matters what the problem is. The product will be shoved in the face of the prospect regardless, magically providing a perfect solution to the problem (even though it likely doesn’t). This is the wrong way to sell.
Here’s an alternative mode of thinking:
- When in a meeting with a prospect, don’t think about how his problem fits your product.
- Instead, think about how your product may or may not relate to his problem.
- Can you really help him?
- If you were the prospect, would you buy your product?
Doing your own bit of discovery while your prospect is doing his can go a long way towards prescribing the right business solution. When you and your prospect come to the same conclusion (ie: your product is the exact tool he needs to solve his problem), you know you’ve hit a home run.
While you’re closing out Q4, get ahead of the competition by positioning yourself for next year. Download our annual research report and gain additional insights on market trends that will impact you next year.