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It's December Crunch Time

7 Dec, 2004 By: Nick Warnock imageSource

It's December Crunch Time

In an industry that can eat even the most seasoned sales professionals for
breakfast, and where managers regularly instill the belief that you are only as
good as your last month, the fourth quarter can be the most grueling of it all!

We’ve all been there—the meeting with your manager that typically happens in
the late part of November. Your manager has the audacity to ask you, despite
having been 120 percent on your plan for the last 11 months, “what can you close
before the end of the year?” acting as if you haven’t been outperforming your
plan the entire four quarters.

The “Rainmaker”

The above remark is somewhat amusing and is a great way to leverage something
materialistic, or maybe even a few free passes from those early Monday morning
and late Friday afternoon meetings your manager calls after a poor month. You’re
over your plan, so now is the time to give them a taste of their own cooking and
ask, “What’s in it for me?”  Make your request like the master negotiator that
you are and blow out December like it was the last month of your selling life.
And don’t forget to point out your success the whole time!

If you fall into the category of “rainmaker,” this time of year is business
as usual for you, so I will be expecting you to come up big. Make sure to help
the younger “jabronis” who are still developing their skill sets, because as
much as you hate to admit it, someone did it for you.  Also, it is your job to
stress just how important the last month of the year is for a sales rep, both
personally and for the organization as a whole. 

The pressure of December has always been celebrated and has even been the
inspiration for movies like “Glen Gary Glen Ross” and “Boiler Room.” It
demonstrates just how awesome and challenging our industry can be. If your
organization does not meet Wall Street earning estimates or ends up in the red,
you are partially responsible!

List the Likely Buyers

In my humble opinion, the key to a great December is to effectively convey to
those prospects who may be on the fence that this is the best time of year to
buy. You must be careful however, you don’t want to threaten a price increase or
product phase out because you will end up turning them off and could possibly
lose the sale totally—not something we want. 

Planning is extremely important at this juncture of the year because the
attack must be more tactical and a large amount of time must be focused on the
customers who you can realistically close. Every prospect must be identified
before the start of the month and should be separated into three
categories—likely, 50 percent chance and long shot—and listed on a large board
in your office or cubicle.

The most efficient way to create this list is by calling the customers (with
your manager) and asking them how they feel about finalizing the deal before the
end of the year. You do not necessarily have to ask any other questions; you
just need to test the waters to create your list. The customer will probably be
confused because what sales professional in their right mind is going to get a
hold of a prospect, exchange pleasantries, ask one question, and then hang up. 
This move is strategic and sets them up for the offering that will push them
over the edge. To quote “The Godfather” you are about to make them, “An offer
they can’t refuse.” 

Depending on the amount of time you have been working on the account, you
should know the issues that are holding this prospect back from moving forward.
In order to close the deal, you must address these issues with proper answers
and an incentive that will help them move forward. Throw in scanning, toner,
theater tickets, a night out on the town or even a cash back incentive (of
course, check with the accounting department first). Also, do not be afraid to
appeal to them on a personal level, as they have come to know you and hopefully
you have shared your goals while working with them. 

Most importantly, you must remember that they are buying YOU and if you have
done a good job pre-qualifying them along the way you will have no problems
knocking them down at the end of the year. Remember, its crunch time so pull out
all the stops.

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