A lot of people look forward to this time of year, with the start of holiday festivities, time with family and friends, and the thrill of upcoming vacations. But for sales, it can be hectic and stressful, with immense pressure to over-perform. Indeed, Q4 is the final chance to hit quota and contribute to the organization’s revenue goals.

These last few months are a crucial time to drive revenue, but don’t worry – it’s not too late to prepare for any last-minute panic. Use these Q4 sales strategies to help hit year-end sales goals.

Understand the Q4 Customer

Buyers behave differently in Q4 than during the rest of the year. Many companies have “use-it-or-lose-it” budget policies, meaning that any money not spent will be forfeited to the company instead of rolling over to the next year, as well as typically a smaller budget the following year. Companies often underspend in the first half of the year to build a “cushion” of money that must now be spent. This year-end urgency motivates prospects to make last-minute purchases, resulting in a 5x increase in expenditure in the final week of the fiscal year versus an average weekly expenditure. Buyers may also be looking to acquire new tools and technologies that will help boost sales success in the new year.

While consumers are under a time crunch and may have a propensity to spend during these last few months, it’s your job to encourage them to spend their money on what you have to sell. If you are not prompt in responding to buyers and are unable to add value, they can and will go to a competitor who is better prepared. So give them the information that will help them make a decision and feel confident that they made the right one. It’s also important to have content that educates your prospects while building trust and reinforcing the need. Consider pieces such as data sheets, testimonials, case studies, product reviews, and ROI business cases. And timely and relevant insights will help the prospect in their decision-making and continue to advance the deal.

Focus on the Customer Experience

As mentioned earlier, your prospects are likely looking to move fast in order to maximize their budget. But that shouldn’t come at the expense of an outstanding purchase experience. Q4 is not the time for hard-sells and being pushy and aggressive in order to close more deals, faster. Despite the pressures to obtain last-minute revenue, do not make the mistake of trying to close a deal before understanding the prospect’s pain points or challenges they are trying to resolve.  Prospects are eager to spend, but they need to recognize the match between their needs and your solution. Reps must put in the effort to tailor their sales process to meet those needs, build relationships with prospects, and develop a positive and trusting buying experience.

Further, your prospects are going to be bombarded with sales and marketing messages. If yours lack that ‘wow’ factor or add no value, they are likely to get ignored or lost in the shuffle. A personalized, relevant message will stand out from the crowd. And be sure to respect the prospect’s time by keeping it simple and concise. In as few words as necessary, clearly convey the point of your email, why the prospect should care, and how they should take action.

Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

During this critical time, you are undoubtedly under a time crunch. Focusing on quality rather than quantity is going to be a more effective approach to closing Q4 deals. Prioritize those prospects who are most likely to buy, i.e. prospects who are already at or near the bottom of the funnel. By the end of the year, your prospects know whether they intend to purchase or not – they will either tell you that they have the time and budget to devote to this project or they will tell you that it will have to wait until January.

If you are still looking to fill pipeline, reconnect with past customers and lost opportunities – those people who have already journeyed through a majority of your sales process. Long sales cycles are one of the biggest barriers to sales effectiveness, meaning that any new prospects are unlikely to close in Q4. And of course, don’t forget about cross-selling and up-selling to your existing customers.

Optimize Your Efforts

Conduct an audit of your activities, processes, and efforts throughout the year. Reflect on what worked and what did not. Take a look at key data points such as call rate, win rate, sales cycle length, pipeline conversion rate, and average number of touches until conversion to help you understand which factors will impact your successes, how to deliver the right content at the right time, and what changes will improve your performance. Use those insights to optimize your activities in Q4 in order to make the biggest impact, boost momentum for the end-of-year push, and start the new year strong. That brings us to our next point.

Set Realistic Goals

In Q4, it’s imperative that you have reasonable and obtainable expectations for the rest of the year.

  • Identify the most important milestones and critical tasks you must achieve before the first of the year and then prioritize accordingly. Be realistic – what can you actually accomplish?

  • Develop an action plan with daily and weekly tasks. Going through this motion will help you stay focused and achieve those goals.

  • Clear what you can from your schedule; there’s no need for pointless meetings, changes to the sales process, or launching brand-new initiatives (unless they are related to the holiday season).

Remember – it’s not over until it’s over! Over 80% of business in Q4 can occur during the last two weeks in December. Good luck!

Shelley Cernel is the Senior Marketing Manager for KnowledgeTree.