IStock_000004795127XSmallHow is your fourth quarter selling going? We are smack dab in the middle of the home stretch. Is it exciting or are you in a dead panic?! Maybe a little of both.

I want you to be powerful with the last part of your year. So, we are going to explore the four pitfalls that can knock you off your game. Then we will create strategies to set you up for massive 2013 success.

The four pitfalls of end-of-the-year selling:

Pitfall #1: We are in the fourth quarter and think that we still have plenty of time.

The funny thing about the fourth quarter is that it has a tendency to collapse on itself. Faster than you can say, “The turkey is too dry,” you find your customers caught up in the wave of the holidays – forgetting all about you.

Thanksgiving and Chanukah take one week out of the schedule. Those pesky prospects are nowhere to be found and all of the decision-makers are on staggered vacation days. Consider that two November weeks are carved neatly out of your plan.

Then, Christmas rolls around. Subtract another two weeks.

Finally, your customers are experiencing the same “collapse” of time, so they start setting aside less important projects until the “after the New Year." If you are not an important project, you will be moved to the back-burner.

In reality, you have about 4 weeks of selling in the last 9 weeks of the year.

First, I look at the holidays. Notice that Thanksgiving falls late this year. Neatly, Chanukah coincides with this week as well. This gives me an advantage, if I am ahead of my game. It affords me three sold weeks in a row of November selling when I normally only get two.

I will use the days to evaluate where my pipeline is at that time and plan the actions I need to take and I will spend a day-and-a-half preparing my 2014 plan.

Most people do not realize that the Friday after Thanksgiving and the days right before and after Christmas are excellend times to reach VIPs. Their support staff is probably off, so you are much more likely to reach them – and your competition is probably off cavorting as well. Also, you are telling these VIPs that your work schedule looks like theirs. 

Pitfall #2: We tend to focus on the deals we can close NOW.

We shift all of our attention to the low-hanging fruit and we pressure the minimum number of customers it takes to make our quota. This practice is devastating to our business. We create desperation which compromises our all-important mental space. 

This is the time when I go through my records and take a look at each and every prospect I have in my pipeline. I move the deals to next year if I cannot seriously see them closing this year. I notice where I am “hoping” they will come through. This is no time for hope. 

Roto Rooter your leads. At the end of this exercise, I should have at least twice the number of customers in the pipeline as I need to meet my number. If I do not have that much, I get in contact with my sales manager right away to see what I might be missing and to set up a strategy for us both to be watching over the next few weeks.

Set appointments with your serious deals. Right now, I reach out to each of the customers who I believe will close before year’s end. I ask them to help me help them create a strategy to help them meet their goals.

My customers love this. They often have their own goals for acquiring my product before the year is over. It could be that they must fit the purchase into this year’s budget. Or that they need the product to start their new year off right.

When I have these conversations, I often find that my prospects often are falling into the same trap of thinking that there is plenty of time. In our strategy calls, I make sure that we get each of the following solidly nailed down:

  • Why do they need to purchase before the end-of-the-year?
  • I ask them the obstacles in the way of having this happen – help them think about the schedules of the attorneys, procurement department, their managers, other decision-makers. What needs to happen and by when to get the deal closed?
  • Together, we set a “done-deal” date. This date should be either in the last part of November or the first week of December. This gives a bit of wiggle room for the likely event of postponements.
  • I ask them if their decision-makers and key influencers are also committed to an end-of-the-year purchase and why.
  • Then, we put another appointment on the calendar – no further than a week out – to catch up and make sure we are on track.

Now, I can set that prospect aside in my mind because I have a scheduled action in place. Onto the next call with the next customer.

Pitfall #3: We get caught up in the wave of the holidays.

If we do not have a graceful plan for completing our year powerfully and cavorting happily with family and friends, then the holidays will be “upon us” too, and our goals will remain unmet.  Not to mention that opportunities will fly right by us, completely unnoticed.

De-clutter is an important part of your environment. Remember, we are focusing on expanding your thinking during this important part of the year. If your car is cluttered, or your office, or your garage, it is weighing on your mind and sapping energy. Perhaps your checking account needs to be balanced. 

It is crazy what happens when you de-clutter a totally unrelated space. Somehow, it says to the Powers That Be that you are creating space for great things to happen.

Try it. Take a risk. See what happens. At the very least, your car will be clean! 

Pitfall #4: We forget to plan for next year.

By the time January rolls around, we are exhausted, and by the time we get around to creating a plan for the new year, our first quarter is practically gone. 

How about sliding into home plate and being ready for the next at-bat? Let's do that instead.  

The key to dealing with all the pitfalls and creating a fantastic 2014 is to expand your thinking.



Bringing a Dash of Dignity, Adventure, and Poise to the Art of Selling, The Irreverent Sales Girl encourages her clients to seek new horizons and honor their own muse. She offers compelling messages that remind you of who you are and what is possible; a message of hope, challenge, and new thinking – just when you needed it most.




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