Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Julie Weill Persofsky,
Partner and Customer Success Advisor at Winning By Design.
Can you believe that it’s already the end of 2018? While it’s a great time of year, if you’re like most sales people, you’re probably under the gun. Even if your whole year doesn’t hinge on hitting your numbers this quarter, it could be the final hurdle between you and your accelerators. Or maybe you just want to end the year on a high note so that you’re not stuck playing catch up come January.
No matter what’s motivating you as we head into the home stretch, the fact is that December can be a tough time to close deals. There’s a lot going on in and out of the office and, unfortunately, your clients are going to be just as busy and distracted as you are. But keep the faith. Even though deals tend to slip at this time of year, if you follow some simple best practices, you can dramatically reduce the chances of that happening.
Let’s look at what they are:
- Help people use up their budgets. As the year comes to an end, departments sometimes find themselves in a race against the clock. They’ve got budget and they’ll lose it if they don’t use it. Take advantage of the situation to try to close some business. You never know when a bluebird deal will swoop in and give you a boost.
- Capitalize on year-end planning. If you’ve spent the last few months talking to your clients about the impact that your product or service can have on their organization, it’s time to bring it home as they plan for 2019. Remind them that if they sign on now, they’ll be able to implement in Q1 and start driving better business outcomes for the rest of the year. Plus, the sooner they sign up, the quicker they can get onboarded.
- Push for action in the first half of the month. If you think it’s hard to get things done in December, just remember it gets even harder as people start taking time off for the holidays. Try to get sign off on your deals in early December while everyone is still in the office. If that’s not possible, you may want to ask for introductions to the other stakeholders involved in the process so that you can liaise with them directly while others are on vacation.
- Use bundling to motivate buyers. I’m not a big fan of discounting, but I do like bundling. You can incentivize buyers by throwing in an extra service or additional licenses to help get the deal over the line. Offer promotions until mid-December, but be prepared to extend until the end of the month if you’re not getting the results you need. Bundling is great because it not only can lead to new sales, it can also give you an opportunity to upsell next year. Having said that, you need to accept the fact that some customers may expect to receive the same services at the same price going forward, so don’t do it if that’s going to be an issue for you.
Use these tactics to create compelling year-end events that give buyers the nudge they need to close deals before the end of the year. Doing so will give you a real lift at what can otherwise be a very challenging time of year.
But wait, there’s more
Just as there are some practical steps you can take to help close more deals, there are some pitfalls that you need to avoid so that you don’t put any of them in jeopardy. Here’s what you need to remember:
- Don’t pester prospects and clients. Although you may be having daily pipeline reviews at this time of year, that doesn’t mean your prospects and clients want to hear from you all of the time. Be upfront with them about the fact that the holiday season is very busy and try to get on the same page about completing a deal before the end of the year. While you want to understand their timeline and hold them to it, don’t be a pest or you could sour the deal.
- Don’t underestimate how long it takes to get to procurement. As you’re thinking through deals, make sure to tack on a couple of extra days for procurement. To help grease the skids, be sure you understand the steps and who’s involved. If your champion is going to be out of the office, get them to sign off before they go away. You might even consider sending a small gift to the skeleton crew that’s left behind in procurement to help get their attention and ensure they focus on your contract.
- Don’t appear to be desperate. It’s December. By now you should know your pipeline and which deals are working. Push to close as many as you can by the end of the year, but don’t risk turning customers off by coming across as desperate. If they need to close in Q1, make sure they understand the impact of it, and then accept it.
- Don’t ignore everyone else. Although you may be focused on closing new deals, don’t overlook the ones that you closed earlier in the year or that are up for renewal. Send them a note thanking them for their business and wishing them a happy holiday season. They’re your bread and butter and deserve your attention too.
If I can offer you one last piece of advice, it’s this: Remember that it’s your holiday season too. Yes, you need to work hard to close deals, but you also need to celebrate your successes as a team and get out of the office and have some fun. When the New Year rolls around, you’ll want to feel refreshed and recharged, not like you’re running on empty, so take some time for yourself to enjoy.