The last quarter of the calendar year is simply unbelievable. Whether unbelievably good or bad is yet to be seen. Every year, however, every sales team seems to repeat the same challenge.
Many salespeople try to explain this phenomenon with a bit of bravado and “bro-tastic” revelations, but it’s actually simpler than may initially appear.
Conventional wisdom often distills why customers suddenly buy as either:
- they are going to lose budget for next year if they do not spend
this year’s budget, or
- the salesperson’s claim that they are just “better under pressure” and drive harder to close deals at the end of the year.
While there may be some truth in either perspective, in my experience, the most consistent sales people strive to maintain a more consistent momentum, by learning to SHIFT. Just like when a cyclist approaches a hill, there is some degree of art of knowing just when to shift into a gear more compatable with the incline of a hill, while simultaneously maximizing the effects of momentum gained on the lead-in to the hill. Let’s break it down:
- S – Stop. Just stop. Stop all the garbage bravado, trash talking and stop virtually pedaling for a moment. In other words, coast for a moment and catch your breath. Validate your momentum. Assess where you really are in the sales process. With experience, this step is often fairly quick. For less experienced, this may prove more challenging.
- H – Hear out all sides. Pick up the phone. Go visit your prospect. Talk with your team. Check in with your colleagues. Most importantly, get a complete, unbiased set of intel. Ask, “what’s happening in the marketplace?”; “are similar deals moving forward?”; “what is your own internal team experiencing?”.
- I- Interact to understand. This step is perhaps the most critical. I have observed many salespeople overestimate their own ability to decipher the details they gathered in the step above on their own, overlooking the importance of confirming what you are seeing with your actual prospect. Adopting phrases like “from what I’m seeing from my perspective is ______” and “I want to make sure we are meeting your expectations by staying on track to close this deal by _______. Is that still your plan?” are incredibly valuable. LISTEN and ASK QUESTIONS TO VERIFY what you think you are hearing. The absolute worst action you can take is being overconfident about what you think your prospect is communicating.
- F- Find agreement for what’s next. By gaining a full understanding about where the deal REALLY is in the sales cycle, next is to come to an agreement about what you both need and how you can get there together. If they are holding out for a price or other negotiable aspect of the deal, one technique is to agree on a closing timeline that guarantees or incents them to get the deal done. Create win-win opportunities. You want to close the deal. They want to feel good about the deal they strike with your company.
- T-Timetable for follow-up. No matter what agreement is struck, drill down more specifically than “we have a deal” by calendaring the follow up. Identifying the next step is much less powerful than sending over a timeline of the next several steps to ensure delivery of the solution you are providing them by a specific date. Both sides should always know when they will take the next steps and/or communicate to maintain momentum.
And there you have it. They key to easily pushing the deal over the top so you can coast back downhill, is to simply SHIFT at the right time.
What proven techniques do you use to maintain momentum of a sale? Share your go-to tactic below!