I have heard a lot of different numbers associated with the revenue goals achieved in the last quarter of a security integrator's fiscal year. My own company experience is that we would book about 35 percent of our annual revenue in the fourth quarter. The weakest quarter was typically the first quarter. There are potentially a lot of reasons why sales numbers are higher in the last quarter.
The fourth quarter is the time to put up the numbers. In football, good coaching becomes more important in the fourth quarter than it is at any other point in the game. Good coaches have the ability to motivate their players when the pressure is at its highest and call plays that put them in a position to succeed. But as essential as good coaching is in football, you still have to have coachable players and a good game plan to win.
As you bear down for your next fourth quarter, here are a few thoughts on how to maximize your fourth quarter revenue:
Own the clock. Time management for sales is critical in the fourth quarter. Sales leadership needs to examine where their sales team is spending their time and make sure it is optimized. The focus is about gaining new business in the last quarter and not about the next year. Too many salespeople spend time prospecting for the new year and chasing opportunity that won’t close in the last quarter. This doesn’t mean sales shouldn’t be focused on long-term sales, but they should focus on long-term opportunity in the first quarter.
Have a game plan. Focus on securing business from existing clients. Leverage the current client relationship, account insight, existing terms and the fact that they are already set up in the system. Too many people overlook their existing clients when it comes to expanding sales.
Run the play. Make sure that by the end of the first week of the fourth quarter that your pipeline has been scrubbed and that the probability for the fourth quarter close is accurate. Prioritize the opportunities by impact and potential to close. Create a sales plan for the top 50 percent of the opportunities with a step-by-step list of actions and owners required to close the sale. Address weekly any delays in the sales process. Too many times people assume no news is good news.
Coach for success. Leadership engagement and coaching is critical to driving success in the fourth quarter. Leadership needs to get out in front of the clients and coach their sales team on how to run the plays to close business. Leaders hear things that salespeople sometime overlook and they can avoid delays by addressing them quickly.
Don’t throw the “Hail Mary.” Eliminate the idea that you need to cut prices to generate sales. This notion that the only way to close a deal is to cut profitability and offer the client a price they can’t refuse is not a good business practice. When the new year starts, and you are sitting in front of that same client trying to sell them something at normal price margins, the conversation will be very challenging, to say the least.
Get the audience engaged. Connect with your vendors and make sure they know your fiscal year and your fourth quarter goals. You need them to support your efforts and help you reach your goals. Kickoff the quarter with a sales meeting that includes the vendor leadership and account team.
Winning is a team effort. Engage the whole company in the end of year close. Create a company scoreboard with the revenue goal, current revenue and the time left in the year. Make the scoreboard visible with daily updates to everyone. Report on revenue wins and success as it happens. Envision the level of energy and engagement that a football team has on the field and on the sidelines in the last two minutes of a game.
See you on the field.