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The Ruby Group | Akron and Columbus, OH

As the Holidays approach and the year ends, businesses are preparing for the final push to ensure that their organizations reach their annual sales goals. It can be a time of considerable stress on sales teams and managers trying to reach the highest possible numbers and reap the benefits for themselves and their business. Not to mention, you still have to balance time off for the holidays and keep the family happy.

It can be tempting for management to push the sales teams to the limits of what they can accomplish during the fourth quarter. However, this can have major pushback. There have been numerous companies who have tried too hard to meet those final quotas, only to have dismal first quarters the following year. Sales teams completely drain their pipeline. Stressed and overworked employees leave and turnover hurts the company. Customers feel pressured by the desperate closing tactics and leave, as well.

If you have had three bad quarters already and are praying for a “Hail Mary” to save the year, take that off the table now. Instead of taking huge risks, making huge mistakes, or adding a ton of stress, take a step back and think about how you can sustainably grow in the fourth quarter. Look at where the leads are in the pipeline and their value. Structure your goals based upon what can reasonably be expected without draining available resources for the following year. As a manager, how can you lower stress on your team and still improve results?

Here are three ways to keep your sales team on the right track without having stress levels that lead to burnout:

1. Pay attention to your largest existing customers.

Remember, for most companies, 80 percent of your sales will come from  the top 20 percent of your customers. There is tremendous potential value in your existing customers. To close the year strong and reduce stress, look for opportunities with your largest existing customers. Find ways that you can offer them even more value based on your relationship. The fourth quarter can be an excellent time to reach out and nurture these relationships and demonstrate your continued interest in their satisfaction. Do a thorough Customer Satisfaction Survey, live and in person with your best clients. Ask them want you can do to improve the relationship or their results and then act on that information. New sales from existing clients are cheaper and easier to attain than new sales, especially in the fourth quarter.

2. Follow up on leads quickly and consistently.

In the fourth quarter, opportunities can come and go quickly. If a potential client needs a fix by the end of the year or has money remaining the budget, they need to get a resolution quickly. Following up quickly and pursuing a yes or no qualification process with each lead will help you determine who is a legit prospect for this year and who is just window shopping for next year’s budget. Many studies have shown that the first salespeople to respond to an inquiry are more likely to get the sale. Also, responding quicker creates a greater chance of getting ahold of the decision-maker. Instead of adding more leads to the pipeline and more pressure. Follow up consistently with the leads you already have and qualify them quickly. Fast yeses and fast noes will help you lower stress and hit your sales goals.

3. Embrace and leverage the holidays.

The holidays can be an important part of a successful sales strategy. Customer appreciation and holiday events can lower stress and create sales opportunities. The holidays are already a time for festivities, vacations, and gift-giving, rather than battling the spirit of the season, use it to your advantage.

  • Host an open house or customer appreciation event.
  • Create holiday-inspired promotions or encourage giving your product or service as a gift.
  • Use the holidays and time off to reward sales personnel who reach particular goals.
  • Do not be afraid to take or allow time off. Time off allows you and your people to recharge their batteries and come back stronger, instead of stressed and tired.

As the last quarter of the year quickly counts down, sales teams need to spend the time preparing so that they can finish the year strong while also setting themselves up to ensure that they are ready to tackle the following year. Investing time in creating a plan versus frantically trying to close everything in the pipeline will minimizing stress and maximize results. Keep these ideas in mind to have success all year around.

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