1. Leverage Holidays
Yes, I’m telling you to take advantage of the holidays. Hey, the fourth quarter is full of them, so you better be able to use them to your benefit. This means you have to know what hours your business is going to be open and what hours your business is going to be closed during this holiday season. Do the same with your customers – ask them when they are going to be open and closed.
I am always amazed at the number of salespeople who don’t understand what days they’re cut or what days their company is/is not shipping orders. So, what’s happening within your company over the next two months? Clear everything up and get it figured out now ahead of time.
2. Existing Customers
This is you time to really dial into existing customers. I want you to have frequent conversations with your existing customers. One of the things that you want to do is understand exactly what their hours of operation are going to be heading into the end of the year. What days will they be open? What days will they be closed? You need to know what they plan to do, because that will help you understand how to best serve them. By the way, it helps to just have the conversation. That’s a start.
There is another piece in terms of existing customers, who I love to call up and you should love to talk with too. Ask them their game plan for the end of the year. Be up front and just ask. Ask them what key issues they think they will see next year.
For example, before I did this video/blog, I was talking on the phone with a client and asked, “Hey, what are the current issues? What key issues do you think you’re going to face next year?” By asking these questions, it opened the door to another conversation that has allowed for additional business right now.
3. Get Referrals and Close Quickly!
So, why not jump on referrals and ask for referrals? It’s absolutely necessary and important.
One of the other things you should do is give referrals in the fourth quarter. Take on more value and priority to everybody, because right now, customers want to make decisions faster. Another words, they want to deal with businesses and people who they know they can trust. Therefore, if somebody has been referred to them, they will place more value with that business / person.
Trust me, it just works.
4. Build Inventory Now
Building inventory cuts both ways. So, what does this mean and what is your inventory? In other words, what inventory do you have to be able to sell, and what is the customer’s inventory? Here’s the whole thing: you want to be able to help the customer maximize their inventory. How do you help them do that?
For many customers, this means actually ordering additional quantities since they’re closing for a week, and they need to get it. I would build up customer inventories wherever possible. There are also customers sitting there saying that they have had a very good year. If so, from a tax standpoint, it’s in your best interest to go ahead and spend money, build inventory and leverage the inventory opportunity.
5. Credit Terms
Again, like inventory, credit terms cuts both ways. Within your own company, you need to understand how late you can submit a credit form for a new customer coming online.
Also, what are the credit terms, and will they change in the new year? Many companies change credit terms as they approach the end of the year, because they’re trying to manage their risk. This same thing happens with your customers. They might typically like terms of thirty days but at the end of the year, decide they want to go ahead and pay in full right away. How can you do that for them?
Understanding the value of money on both sides of the table is a key piece that gives you an additional tool to help leverage and increase sales at the end of the year.
6. Competitive Weakness
Several times I’ve had this play out where certain companies are open, but their competitors have been closed. It’s interesting to see. This is a great opportunity, though. If you’re in an industry where your customers or your prospects are currently buying from a competitor, you can leverage it. Often, salespeople and companies have long-term customers who they have just been loyal to; however, they really don’t deliver good service at the end of the year. Suddenly, you can be the one to help fulfill that critical need order.
A few years ago, I ran a supply house, and this is exactly what we did. We stayed open through the holidays and picked up a tremendous amount of business that we were able to turn into long-term customers, simply because we remained open when our competition was closed. It was a very easy way to gain business.
7. Calendar Planning
Take your calendar and mark down what days you’re personally planning to take off. Are you planning to take any vacation days? What windows of time are you stepping away from work? When do you need to be available, because your kids have some sort of event that you need to be at, or be with family members, etc.? Plan your calendar through the end of the year now. This is key.
Are you using your time in the most efficient manner? As we get closer and closer to the end of the year, your time becomes more and more valuable. Know where your breaks are blocked in and know where your holds are. They must be in place, so you can begin planning around them now.
8. Plan for Next Year
Don’t get so caught up in these last couple months that you don’t make plans for next year. It’s important to look ahead.
I said earlier, one of the things I love to do is call up customers and ask, “Hey, what are your plans for next year?” Make those customer calls now. This is now. You’re not looking for year-end orders yet; you’re looking to get insight.
As you get your customer thinking about next year, you are getting a chance to get inside and help them plan what they think they should focus on. This, therefore, helps you be seen as strategic to them; you’re not just chasing the end of the quarter, but you’re helping them next year.
9. Stay Focused
I am all about prospecting 365 days a year; however, in the fourth quarter, it requires greater urgency on my part, so I dial in a little more. This requires you to focus even more closely on your customers. I’ve realized that I may only get one window of opportunity to reach out to this customer. I can’t afford to lose it. I honestly can’t afford it.
Staying very focused means sitting down every morning every day of the week and assessing who you’ll reach out to. Who will be your contacts? What are your objectives? What outcomes are you expecting? You have to hold yourself accountable every day and even more so in the fourth quarter.
10. Quick and Easy!
Keep your selling fast and simple. This is not the quarter to sell complicated deals. Why? Because complicated deals will get punted as soon as Thanksgiving’s over.
If it’s complicated, customers will just resort to not talking to you at all or waiting until after the first of the year. I want you to keep it quick and easy. If you can do that, the customer will make the decision faster, because one more excuse is taken off their plate. It all comes down to you, the salesperson, making the decision to make it happen.
The fourth quarter is the motivation quarter. It really is, because this is the time when it all pays out. Maximizing sales at year-end won’t ever happen unless you’re absolutely motivated and focused to make it happen.
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.