According to your sales reps, the pipeline is full of deals.  You need to close a few of the late stage big ones to make your number this year.


How do you know if these late stage deals will close in Q4?


This blog will focus on five ways to reduce the perception of risk associated with your solution.


Risk Assessment

Q4 is difficult.  The holidays are an obstacle to getting face time with prospects and customers to secure those last minute deals.  Get ahead of this issue, by building a Q4 strategy now.


Early stage sales activity won’t get you to the number.  Neither will your efforts to move deals from stage 1 to stage 2 in the sales process.  These are important activities, but they won’t impact the number in Q4.  It is too late.  Save those early stage deals for your 2018 strategy planning. SBI’s How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook will help you with that.


The deals you care about for Q4 are the ones in the latter half of the sales cycle. Listen in on the win strategy sessions for these deals.  This is what you hear from the team:


  • “If Acme closes I am going to have a great year”
  • “I am going to close Acme next month” (this is the 4th month they have said this)
  • “Bob at Acme isn’t returning my calls.  I really need that deal.”
  • “We met last week and everything seems like it is on track”


Chances are that these deals won’t close this year unless you change the game. 


Why are reps overly optimistic?

During the first 3 stages of the sales process interactions are primarily positive.  The rep is focused on what the customer wants.  Once you reach the later stages, the rep typically starts asking the customer to commit to change.  This is where things get difficult.  Customers start to worry about risk.  What if this fails and my name is tied to it?  How do I know they can pull it off?  Things slow down or stall.  Your contact vaporizes. 


Try this

Flip the funnel.  Get laser focused on moving late stage deals to the finish line.  Poor and average reps focus on pitching their product and provide an unbelievable ROI.  They avoid tough conversations.  Top performers look for ways to help make it easy for buyers to buy.  They address the risk that is undoubtedly in the buyers’ minds. 


5 Ways to Address Risk


    1. Proactively discuss risk with key Stakeholders
      • Average reps avoid risk discussions.  Top performers enjoy discussing risk.  It is what separates them from mediocrity.  Top performers realize that a risk discussion is an indicator of true interest by the customer.
      • Do not address risk at the company level.  Risk is personal.  People are afraid of being attached to a failed initiative.  In every organization there are fables about people that made a fatal decision.  You need to discuss risk with each key stakeholder and understand how to address at the individual level.
    2. Provide case studies that prove you can execute
      • Case studies help reduce your customer’s fear of risk.  They relate to the problem the customer in the study was solving for.  You want to take your contact off the island.
    3. Introduce the customer to a testimonial that implemented a similar solution
      • The old cliché, “right from the horse’s mouth” is a good one.  Nothing is more powerful than a personal testimonial where you customer can ask questions.
    4. Align Executives
      • The high authority play still works.  The message becomes more believable as more authority is perceived to be behind it.  Visit the top deals with your reps.  Let them lead the conversation.  Provide reassurance that you will deliver on the promise.
    5. Introduce Other Resources
      • Introduce the service or implementation team.  Account management or customer service resources.  Buyers know that reps are trying to make a commission check.  Hearing a similar message from people responsible for ongoing execution is powerful.


Click here to download a copy of the Sales Risk Assessment Tool shown below. 


This tool helps you do the following:


  1. Identify risks from the customer’s point of view
  2. Attach a ranking as to the probability of the risk occurring
  3. Assign a score regarding the potential impact of each risk
  4. Develop a mitigation plan for the risks that are highly probably and impactful


sales risk assessment tool


Call to Action:


  1. Have each rep on your team identify the top 5 deals they need to close in Q4
  2. Take one deal from each rep and discuss the key risks from the client’s point of view.  How can you help alleviate the risk? (whiteboard session)
  3. Offer a small incentive for closing these deals in Q4
  4. Track each deal and have the team report back weekly on progress


Don’t hope that late stage deals will close in time for you to make the number. Take what top performers do to progress deals and spread it across your sales team. 


Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is a Revenue Growth Diagnostic tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:


  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job


Sales Revenue Growth



Scott Gruher

Orchestrates and designs the perfect project strategy, one engagement at a time, to ensure that every SBI client makes their number.

Scott joined SBI in 2010 with years of hands-on experience in sales leadership and enterprise selling. Since his arrival, he has helped dozens of organizations dramatically accelerate growth, from Fortune 10 organizations like Phillips 66 to fast-growing cloud service organizations like InfusionSoft. Scott specializes in cross-functional alignment. He helps leaders align around the growth goal and design the right processes to bring the strategy to life. His unique combination of real world experience and a pragmatic approach to problem solving have made him one of SBI’s most demanded resources.

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