Welcome to the end of Q4. Are you stressed?
Many salespeople are this time of year. When October, November, and December roll around, and you find yourself on edge because you’re a little (or maybe a lot) behind quota, please don’t do what most salespeople do. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “Well, it’s the end of Q4; let’s face it, that’s always a tough time of the year for me.”
It’s too easy to blame external factors – like what month it is – for financial pressures we may be facing right now. It’s a little more uncomfortable, but more effective in terms of actual problem-solving, to assume that the reason for problems we face in Q4 can be found in the behavior patterns we chose to support and execute back in Q1, Q2, and Q3 – and the behavior choices we make today.
Here’s a question for you. When you’re out driving across the country, and your car runs out of gas on a remote, deserted highway in the middle of the night, is the real problem that it’s eleven-thirty at night? No. The real problem is that you didn’t check the gas gauge back when there was still time to refuel. Don’t be shocked that you’re out of gas! Just make a promise to yourself to get a little better at noticing when the fuel gauge clearly shows you that it’s time to fill up.
Failing to notice your gas gauge level amounts to highway malpractice if you’re a driver. The same basic error, when applied to pipeline management, amounts to quota malpractice if you’re a salesperson.
Many of us are familiar with the dreaded, manipulative “impending event” close. The salesperson is supposed to say: “Take all the time you want, but remember the price goes up on Monday.” Prospects hate this close, and the best salespeople, knowing how ineffective and counterproductive it is, have learned to stay away from it. But have you noticed how often we use it on ourselves? We look at the pipeline in June, and we think, “There’s plenty of time. I can think about the yearly target later.” Then we look at the calendar in November and December and we think, “Oh, my gosh – it’s almost the end of the year. I’m in trouble. The calendar has snuck up on me!” Basically, we run an “impending event” close on ourselves. Then we spread ourselves too thin. And get stressed.
The truth is, the calendar didn’t do that to us. We did that to ourselves, and we didn’t have to.
Here’s the good news. Starting now, we can move away from being a “calendarist” … and move toward being a “behavioralist.” Today's technology can give us all the information we need about when our sales “tank” needs refilling. For our part, we can identify all the daily behaviors – the fuel – that will keep us on track so that we can be sure of hitting our personal monthly and quarterly goals. We can also make a mental note that, if we’ve got an eight-week selling cycle, then, for our purposes, it’s always two months later than the calendar says it is! If we start thinking like a “behavioralist” right now, we can shift our mindset, change the pattern, stop blaming the calendar – and make this our last stressed-out Q4 ever.