10 Point Checklist for Hitting the Year End Target

hit the sales target

Eleven weeks to go until year end. For most it has been a bumpy year and a strong finish will be critical. Hard work creates opportunity and there is still lots of time to find and close net new deals. This is a great time to work hard towards a strong finish. Here are the ten best ways to make sure your team hits target by year end:

  1. Communicate the Importance of the Target to the Team – all the reasons for hitting the targets may be patently obvious to every senior manager in the company, but may not be obvious at the rep level – they are more focused on their own day to day work and deals, regardless of whether they are on target. Even if the team has heard the message fifty times, it never hurts to say it again and like a coach cheering their team on in the fourth quarter when fatigue may be setting in, you need a rallying cry (or several) to keep the energy levels high right to the finish.
  2. Put extra focus on key deals and territories – for smaller deal sizes, review overall pipelines and daily plans to capture a high percentage of the opportunities. For enterprise sales review the best deals that each rep has in their funnel – determine which are the most important deals and make yourself available 24/7 to help close whatever needs to close – often reps can’t get the attention of senior management – now is the time to make sure they can. In either case, don’t be limited to what’s in the CRM as many of the good deals somehow don’t make their way in. Don’t neglect the rest of the pipeline.
  3. Don’t let anyone quit – often there are reps who feel like they won’t make their number with only a few weeks left in the quarter and they stop working hard especially with Christmas falling at the end of the quarter and clients taking time off. You can’t afford for anyone to give up and try to sandbag next quarter…..watch for defeatism on your team and work with them to stay motivated to keep pushing to close deals. Encourage them to keep prospecting and act as if there is still 6 months left in the year.
  4. Make sure everyone is practicing good discipline and work habits – with holiday season parties going on at the end of the year, reps might be staying out late at night and then coming in later missing key selling hours. You can’t afford to let them do this. You need your reps to be well rested and ready when they come into the office and you need them to start early finish late.
  5. Reach out to all existing customers – customers are often not aware of your targets, so now is a good time to let them know you are prepared to offer the best deals for repeat business and timely purchases. You can also remind them that prices may be going up next year and buying now may in fact save them money.
  6. Watch out for Excuses – top performers don’t make excuses, they keep fighting to succeed all the time. If someone on your team is making early excuses about why they can’t hit their numbers, you need to have a chat about expectations and their career. Of course you don’t want them to conceal issues either so you need to make sure you are constructive so you can help them advance deals and be successful.
  7. Monitor Activity Volumes – are calls, meetings, proposals, etc. in line with typical ratios required to hit targets? This can be your clue to deteriorating effort. Jump on any sign that people are not doing the work that leads to results.
  8. Track Deal Slide – What percentage of forecasted deals are sliding into the next quarter? Often reps dismiss deals early in the quarter assuming they have plenty of other deals to work. Time kills deals, so any that slip may in fact be dying. Jump on these to understand why they are slipping and what you can do to close them before quarter end.
  9. Keep the focus on the revenue target, not the news – the news easily puts negative thoughts in the heads of your reps or distracts them from what is important, which in turn it doesn’t put them in the right frame of mind to be positive in front of customers, and instill their confidence and trust. Focus on the customer and the sale. There is no certainty in the outlook and won’t be for the foreseeable future. Get over it.
  10. Have fun – nurture the friendly competition, the bonding that occurs across the team, and smile as much as possible knowing that you are doing everything you can to win. Your customers will appreciate it and reward you.

Last point don’t forget the importance of prospecting so you are set up to succeed in Q1 next year by starting with a strong funnel.

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Quarter End Motivation – Leave No Stone Unturned

Hours to the end of the second Q of 09. As tough as any other, but there are glimmers that a turnaround in the economy may be coming soon. As usual all the cliche’s about not quitting apply. Our final message this quarter includes a quote from Zig Ziglar:

“We miss 100 percent of the sales we don’t ask for.”

Remember to leave no stone unturned.

Start the Quarter with a Bang!

Now the quarter is over, top sales teams are typically focused on two priorities – post mortem to learn from the completed quarter and kick-starting the new quarter. April 09 is no different except what worked last year and the year before, generally isn’t producing the desired results right now, so there is more deconstructing the plan and re-vectoring.

The basics still apply. Now the focus is turned on Q2 09 performance:

1. Review Key Metrics - how did you do this past quarter? Common dashboard items include: call and other relevant activity volumes, forecast to actual, deal slide, and revenue from top customers. Also look at the quality of your current pipeline and what that represents to your current Q target.

2. Identify Key Deals that Didn’t Close - review why they didn’t close and what needs to be done to capture them early in the quarter. Often there is a bit of drifting now that the pressure is off and some deals might even disappear from neglect. It is great to start the quarter with wins. Don’t let any deals get away.

3.  Assess the Team Performance – who hit their numbers? Who demonstrated the right behaviors and discipline? Who is or isn’t operating with the right sense of urgency? Who can’t adapt to these market conditions, has missed targets for back to back quarters and may need to be replaced?

4. Kickoff the Q with Energy – you need to give the team a quick breather and then get them re-focused and re-energized. Do something fun, announce some new spiffs, get a speaker in from the outside, communicate the new target and plan, get everyone inspired and charged to attack the new goal

Motivation for Quarter End

Last day of the quarter and it is never over until it is over. Here is some inspiration to keep you going during the last hours of the quarter – read whichever is appropriate:

IF YOU ARE STILL WORKING TO HIT YOUR TARGET:
“Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever” – Lance Armstrong

IF YOU ARE AHEAD OF YOUR TARGET:
”If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti

Quarter End – Dash to the Finish

It is a few days before quarter end and if you are like most sales leaders, you are in the final push to hit your number, so here are the top ways to squeeze as much revenue as possible from your team over the next few days.

1. Prioritize the Deals – If your business involves a number of key deals, run through the pipe and target the deals that must close (I assume you have already done this by now, but still worth mentioning so it stays at the very top of your list).

2. Ask the Hard Questions – Do customer stakeholders have all the necessary information to make a decision, do they have time in their schedule for necessary sign-offs? Be proactive, book their time in advance.

3. Line up Legal – has legal signed off on both sides of the deal? Again be proactive by scheduling time in advance (your legal and client legal) and identifying any potential showstoppers could kill the deal. Make sure your legal is aware of your deals and can give you upfront advice on potential issues so that you know what you need to negotiate and what to avoid.

4. Line up your Revenue Recognition – If you are a publicly traded company, you need to make sure you have enough time to get sign-off from your rev rec department. Your reps need to know in advance what potential revenue recognition issues exist – nothing hurts more than not being able to book a deal because something doesn’t line up with the paperwork.

5. Keep Pushing – Keep the motivation and energy levels high as you drive to the finish and don’t let anyone give up. Keep going with internal competitions and spiffs if your business involves short sales cycles/transaction volume. Stay in front and connected to all your reps.

And finally if you are lucky enough to have already hit your quarter, what are you doing to maintain your momentum going into next Q.

Good luck!

Sales Quarter End – 12 Point Checklist to Hitting the Number

race2I love quarter end. Having spent many years selling myself, I remember the rush of the countdown and closing everything you can to hit your quota and get into accelerated commissions. I also enjoyed the competition amongst all the reps hustling hard and getting super creative to not only hit their own numbers, but to earn first place on the team. It is a very exciting time.

When I was managing sales, it was slightly different, but always exciting just the sames. For many companies, particularly those that are publicly traded, performance at quarter end is critical for many reasons – keeping budgets, maintaining stock price and investor confidence and perhaps even for earning an investment traunch. While sales performance should be brilliant every day of the year, the truth is that success is a marathon, not a sprint and sales leaders need to push the team hard to ensure there is a strong surge to the finish at each quarter end.

Here are my three favorite ways to make sure your team charges hard to close out the quarter:

  1. Communicate the Importance of the Target – all the reasons for hitting the targets may be patently obvious to every senior manager in the company, but may not be obvious at the rep level – they are more focused on their own day to day work and deals. Even if the team has heard the message fifty times, it never hurts to say it again and like a coach cheering their team on in the fourth quarter when fatigue may be setting in, you need a rallying cry (or several) to keep the team pushing hard to the finish.
  2. Extra Focus on Major Deals – review the best deals with each rep (and not just what is in sales tracking system which doesn’t always give the whole picture) – determine which are the most important deals and make yourself available 24/7 to help close whatever needs to close – often reps can’t get the attention of senior management – now is the time to make sure they can.
  3. Don’t Forget the Big Picture – there are four quarters in a year and the highest performing teams maintain momentum throughout the year. Many teams expend an enormous amount of energy closing the quarter and then spend weeks afterwards, picking up the pieces. The team cannot stop prospecting for four weeks while they close the quarter without creating a problem entering the next quarter– a spiff for new qualified leads can help incent the team to do all the things that matter throughout the year.
  4. Keep the focus on the revenue target, not the doom and gloom in the news – the news just brings you down – it doesn’t put you in the right frame of mind to be positive in front of customers, and instil their confidence and trust. Focus on the customer and the sale.
  5. Don’t let anyone quit – often there are reps who feel like they won’t make their number with only a few weeks left in the quarter – you can’t afford for them to them give up and try to sandbag next quarter…..watch for defeatism on your team and work with them to stay motivated to keep pushing to close deals.
  6. Make sure everyone is practicing good discipline and work habits – as the mad dash builds up, reps might be skipping paperwork and saying they will get to it later (sure!) or staying later at the office and then coming in later missing key selling hours. You can’t afford to let them do this.
  7. Reach out to all existing customers – customers are often not aware of your targets, so now is a good time to let them know you are prepared to offer the best deals for repeat business and timely purchases.
  8. Watch out for Excuses – top performers don’t make excuses, they keep fighting to succeed all the time.
  9. Monitor Activity Volumes – are calls, meetings, proposals, etc. in line with typical ratios required to hit targets? This can be your clue to deteriorating effort.
  10. Monitor Forecast to Actual – is week to week accuracy improving or deteriorating?
  11. Track Deal Slide - what percentage of forecasted deals are sliding into the next quarter? Jump on these and work to keep them in the quarter.
  12. Have fun – nurture the friendly competition, the bonding that occurs across the team, and smile as much as possible knowing that you are doing everything you can to win. Your customers will appreciate it and reward you.

Good luck!