Every sales person has deals that slip into the new year. What matters now in January though, is that you take advantage of these opportunities to get a headstart in crushing your number. That's the part that everyone knows. Where I see sales reps and managers fail is when they treat all of these deals the same. Fight the urge to generalize these deals just because they were marked as "Q4 Slips" in your CRM. Be smart. Be intentional. Segment these deals and execute against each one in a way that benefits your customer. This post will walk you through four types of Q4 Slips and how to execute in each scenario.
1. Inaccurately Forecasted Deal That Pushed into January
You'll recognize this deal as the one that you were working in late October or November, that got pushed into January due to a changing customer priority. While this might be true, more often than not, I see this as a failure of accurately qualifying the opportunity and understanding the customer's internal priorities. Both sales rep and manager should resist the urge to treat this opportunity with a closing mindset. I'm not suggesting you lose your sense of urgency; be early to follow up with your prospect and get on her calendar. However, focus on understanding what's happening in her world, what's been deemed a priority for the new year and how you can align your approach in a way that truly benefits her. Don't be premature; wait, think and requalify.
2. The December Deal That You Haven't Actually Won Yet
You'll recognize this deal as the one where your customer actually had a compelling reason to move forward in December (e.g. he wanted to kick off the project in mid-January), but couldn't complete their vendor evaluation. As a result, no matter how much you try to push this to close in January, you need to realize that you haven't actually won this deal yet! It may not even be your fault, but resist the urge to keep pushing the client to move forward based on their original December move forward date. Call up your prospect, ask to go over your success roadmap and see how you can adjust it based on his team's schedule. Make this collaborative, try and engage his broader team, and help the buying committee navigate the vendor selection process. Use this as an opportunity to differentiate yourself and set yourself up to win.
3. The December Deal Where You Just Ran Out of Time
You'll recognize this deal as the one where you have everyone's buy-in, there is a plan to get started, but unfortunately, you just missed the window of opportunity to get the deal signed off. The CEO went to Hawaii for Christmas or the contract is sitting in procurement awaiting final signature or some other unfortunate excuse. I absolutely recommend striking when the iron is still hot here, but please avoid cheesy pressure tactics! Don't tell the prospect the price is going up next week if they don't sign off today. Any mature buyer knows that while price increases do occur, they don't ever increase with just 7 days notice to the sales team. Call up your prospect, wish him a happy new year and ask for their commitment in getting the December deal done by X date. Thay way you can him them stick to the original agreed to timeline. Be reasonable, be helpful and get 'er done.
4. The December Deal That Was Sandbagged Into January
You'll recognize this deal as the one where the sales rep made a conscious decision to drag his feet. He made sure that everything was set to close but deliberately delayed getting sign-off into the new year for his own personal benefit (i.e. targets, sales commissions etc). If this is you, ask yourself if this truly is the right profession for you. Not to be over dramatic here, but sales is a team sport and nothing is guaranteed; buying decisions can change at a moment's notice. As a result, are you really prepared to risk the overall success of your team for your own personal gain? Similarly, if you're a sales manager and see this behaviour on your team, please don't take this lightly. It's likely that the rep will end up getting the deal closed, but I wouldn't celebrate the win. I'd make it clear that this behaviour is unacceptable. Winners don't sandbag. Winners like to win and above all else, they like to see their team win.
Thanks for reading. If you found this useful or have any other Q4 slip scenarios to add, let me know! You can leave me a comment below or email me at email@example.com. Thanks.
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