It’s go time. Q4 has arrived, and if your team doesn’t execute on your revenue goal for the year now, it’ll be too late. Meeting this high-stress, high-stakes moment means tapping into one of the most fundamental pillars of the fighter pilot mentality: staying cool and focused under pressure. Success is within reach. If you can align your team within the right culture, mindset, and execution rhythm, you can close the gap between you and your goal and end the year on a revenue high note.
Here are some best practices for businesses facing their end-of-year revenue crunch.
This article is part of our new guide on how teams can make up lost ground and hit their goal before the end of the year. Get the complete guide here.
1. Triage your pipeline
When you’re in the home stretch of the year and facing an uphill climb, you may not have the luxury of seeing every deal to the finish line. This is a time for triage – and a good way to start is by breaking your existing leads and opportunities into two categories.
In the first category are those that, frankly, probably aren’t going to close. Maybe they saw a product demo but have been unresponsive to your team’s emails and calls since then. Maybe your contact has left the prospect organization, and your team has struggled to replicate their rapport with that person’s replacement. Maybe the lead was first qualified at the beginning of the year and has been noncommittal since then, stringing you along while resisting your efforts to move forward.
In the other category are leads and opportunities with real potential. They match your ideal customer profile – they’re the right company size and industry, and your contact there has the right title. They’ve been consistently engaged with the rep working the account. They came in within the last couple of months and have been moving steadily down the funnel since then. All evidence suggests that they’ll close – the only question is whether it happens before the end of the year.
Success in this end-of-year crunch largely centers on your ability to identify the opportunities that belong to the latter category, and focus your efforts there. When the pressure is on, fighter pilots are often forced to make the split-second decision to let go of dead-end tasks and re-calibrate their efforts. Similarly, for business leaders, the end of the year is a time for hard decisions like these, including the decision to cut your losses on what you recognize as dead-end opportunities. The reps working the more high-potential opportunities could use backup from the rest of your team. And the reps working low-potential opportunities would be better off working more promising leads that are in the funnel but haven’t been picked up yet.
2. Clear the distractions that block your pipeline
Once you’ve concentrated your efforts on the most high-potential opportunities in your pipeline, the next step is to create conditions that enable your team to focus on those opportunities without interruption. There are a lot of roadblocks and distractions that stand between your reps and the “closed-won” box in Salesforce. It’s your job as their leader to clear them away.
Sometimes, these roadblocks take the form of poor communication between Sales and Marketing, which can lead to inconsistent external messaging or the failure to share crucial prospect insights. Other times, they take the form of a lack of automation, forcing reps to spend their time on manual administrative tasks when they could be on the phone working deals over the finish line.
Now is the time to sync up with other teams, review your workflows in search of possible enhancements, implement task shedding practices, and do whatever else it may take to overcome challenges like these and close deals before the end of the year.
3. Adopt a self-gen mentality
Even after you refocus your efforts on your highest-priority opportunities, it’s good to have a fallback – and that fallback might take the form of generating new pipeline.
But this is Q4. The end of the year is less than three months away. If you want any newly-generated opportunities to close before the end of the year, you’ll have to take an accelerated approach. Starting at the top of the funnel will take too long. Instead, your reps should leverage self-generated lists to target new leads starting at the middle of the funnel, where you could conceivably be just a month away from closing, rather than three, six, or more.
4. Make sure your sales enablement engine is roaring
Investing in good sales enablement is the best way to make sure you pull in the right prospects at the top or middle of the funnel – and have the resources to close them at the bottom. Both of these can go a long way toward improving your close rates.
The problem? Too many leaders don’t follow best practices when it comes to sales enablement.
One way to address this is by building team situational awareness. Reps need to know what sales enablement artifacts are at their disposal. Too often, a rep in talks with a prospect will need a case study or datasheet that speaks to that prospect’s particular use case or vertical, but will have no idea where to find those materials – or whether they even exist. This weakens their chances of closing that prospect and leaves money on the table.
Make sure your sales enablement assets are organized, properly and comprehensively tagged, and available in a centralized, widely accessible location. And build awareness of these assets during new rep onboarding.
Looking ahead, work with marketing to refine your criteria for qualifying leads. Nothing enables sales reps better than making sure they’re talking to the right people.
At Afterburner’s workshops and other events, teams of all types build the skills they need to focus their efforts, empower their teams, and maximize their revenue performance in the end-of-year crunch. Get in touch to learn more.