Fourth quarter.

There is no quarter that poses more opportunities and, at the same time, more obstacles as this one.

I’ve always felt you need to have one strategy for the year and another one for the 4th quarter, due to how different it is.

Below are 7 tips to help make it successful:

1. If you deal with accounts on a regular basis, make calls now to find out what days the people you work with may not be available.

Make this call now and you will be amazed at the positive response you get from them.  Customers will be shocked, yet very pleased, a vendor they work with cares this much to find out so early in the quarter what their plans are.

2. Block the calendar immediately with all holidays, vacations days, etc. for everyone in the organization.

This sounds basic, but I’m amazed at the number of salespeople who get blindsided by vacation days people are taking at the end of year.

3. Verify when the fiscal year end is for each of your current customers and key prospects you might be able to close.

Knowing when a customer’s year-end is can help significantly with understanding what your selling strategy should be.

4. Learn from your own management how all orders will be handled the last two weeks of the year.

If finance is going to be doing something at the end of the year to manage the number, it is essential you know now not later what the adjustments might be.

5. Be pro-active in getting any new customer set up with regard to credit, etc.

We’ve all been in situations where a customer is not able to get their initial order as soon as they would like due to delays in getting credit verified.  This situation is only made worse in the 4th quarter, due to the number of holidays and the difficulty in getting information requests in a timely manner from banks, etc.

6. Determine now where you are with regard to your quarterly number.

Build out your quarter plan to get you to “x%” beyond your goal.  You need to determine what the “x” should be.  I typically say 10%.  The reason is simple — regardless of how well you plan, there will always be weird stuff happening in December.

If you wait until late December to realize you’re not going to make your number, you’ll be too late.

7. Determine what % of your business is going to be “repeat” versus “new.”

Key is to focus earlier in the quarter on the new business, as this is typically harder to get and requires more time.  Repeat business tends to be easier to get, so if something has to lag toward later in the quarter, let it be the repeat business.

There you go — 7 things to help you be successful in the the 4th quarter!  It’s up to you to be intentional about going out there and making your number.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

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