Positively impacting the sales outlook of Q4

Cast your mind back nine months and consider how different your sales outlook for the year was.

Fast-forward nine months and we’re now looking ahead at the final quarter and an entirely different landscape for sales orgs.

We went live to ask how sales leadership can positively impact the closing three months of the year, what to prioritize, and how mindset will play a part.

Panel:

Trish Bertuzzi, CEO & Founder, The Bridge Group Inc.

David Oates, CRO, Proda Ltd.

James Goodman, Sales Director UKI – Salesforce Solutions, DXC Technology

Courtney Graham, Director of Sales – Central & SE, SADA

Q4 feels a lot more like Q1

Six months ago we were entering an unknown duration of lockdown with unknown ramifications on our sales survival.

Fast-forward to the current sales environment and we’ve weathered a storm and are sitting at the mouth of another imminent lock-down. 

However, this time, our sales vehicles are far more robust and we have the knowledge of how lockdown may disrupt the buying cycle.

We can move against that. Standing still is not an option and sales leaders should see this quarter isolated from the last two.

Businesses that are selling into heavily disrupted markets need to “pivot and pipeline” if they haven’t in the last six months. 

That might mean commercially restructuring, redrafting messaging, or overdelivering at every engagement with the customer. 

Every deal is important right now and this quarter is not your typical hockey stick sales cycle. 

Sandbagging your deals for the end of the quarter is not an option, as those last weeks might not exist in the typical sense.

Have targets changed?

The priorities haven’t changed, but the strategy to achieve them has drastically changed.

Certain regions, sectors, and customers have accelerated while others have halted entirely. Two of the panelists have seen dramatic increases in sales.

Those that were long overdue digital transformation, or running on bad processes and leaking tech stacks, have had to rapidly accelerate their ability to cater to a new buying process.

The digital agenda has been pushed to the forefront and for Sada it’s catapulted them to enjoy the best two quarters in the last decade.

Targets have moved in waves across the six months. 

Pause and survey, recalibrate, reposition messaging, verticals, and operations, and over the next quarter the blinkers are coming off and budgets are being spent.

There’s still wallet share out there and even more so for the companies that need to pivot to meet the new buyer journey. 

Our office rents, travel budgets, and client entertainment have all been repurposed.

The lucky and unlucky winners 

The only mindset shift is to be proactive in order to survive. 

This is not a level playing field. Madonna was wrong when she said COVID was the great equalizer.

The companies that have racked billions of dollars selling “vitamins” or nice-to-haves are desperately pivoting to turn their vitamin into an Aspirin. 

Some of us happened to be standing in the right place and our success is nothing more than luck. 

Zoom went from 10m daily participants during December 2019 to 300m daily participants in April 2020.

This wasn’t the culmination of some brilliantly orchestrated revenue campaign, but a global shift to remote operations that put a commercially viable, quick, and easily usable conferencing solution as priority one.

Difficult sales climates force the tides out and expose those that do things poorly, and highlight those that step up.

Focus on what you can control

Are you making the greatest use of every minute?

Businesses are noticing that too many external calls are being made, that internal calls are too lengthy, and that Zoom fatigue is inhibiting activity that builds pipeline.

Leaders and reps alike need to become much better at time management and time blocking their calendars to focus on their clients, or pipeline critical activity.  

Listen to your customers, react to what they’re saying, and do what’s within your power to give them the best experience.

Every deal matters right now and a lower valued deal could evolve into something much larger with the right nurturing. 

Reps need to avoid tunnel-vision selling because of looming targets and continue to apply strategy to the long-term relationships that will pay dividends

It’s amazing what incremental gains like shaving internal calls to 15-minutes can do collectively across your bottom line.

Inspection and qualification

It’s never been more business critical that sales leadership are actively present and inspecting their reps pipeline.

That’s not subtext for micro-managing, but the need for a seasoned head to be accessible to coach and monitor the new movement of sales cycles.

In recent episodes, we’ve spoken about sales leaders being a finite resource and where they’re best deployed.

Typically, leaders intervene in the opportunities that have matured along the cycle and are actually more likely to close.

After crunching the numbers behind thousands of sales cycles it’s apparent that those that early intervention in the deals that show the signs of never materializing deliver the biggest revenue gains.

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Calum Morrison

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