4th Quarter Sales Planning: Suggestions from Professional sales Experts

Whether your sales team has had a great year or you've struggled to hit the numbers, it's time to start gearing up for your fourth quarter and strategizing the best way to finish your year strong.

More than any other quarter, the fourth quarter demands that you really consider what's going to happen at the end of it before it even starts. The fourth quarter poses some challenges, but with proper planning it offers some unique opportunities as well. Netpique experts suggest the following ways to help your sales representatives maximize the opportunities and deal with the challenges so that you can cross the December finish line with a winning team.

Get in on Next Year's Budget Planning

Now is the time when companies start planning their budgets for next year. Make sure your product ends up in that budget. Have your sales representatives engage prospects in discussion about their budget for next year, and help them to brainstorm ways that buying your product could cut costs in other areas, improve productivity, or boost sales.

The moment when they are considering the big picture and planning for the year in advance is a great opportunity to show off all the benefits of your product to best advantage. This is also the time for your sales representatives to make sure they are speaking with the decision-maker, and any other parties relevant to budget planning for the next year. A well-placed presentation to a few additional key team members in an organization can make all the difference.

Especially if your product has a long sales cycle or is a regular subscription, getting in on the ground level of budget planning can be a way to make sure that money is allocated in the beginning, and your product is seen as an essential strategic component, and not a frivolous add-on.

Weed through the Prospect List

Your company probably has some yearly goals for sales results. Depending on what those goals are, and how close your sales team is to meeting them, the fourth quarter may be the time to reassess which prospects are taking up the majority of your sales representatives' time.

If you have some numbers to make up, it's worth a serious sales meeting where you instruct your sales team to focus their efforts for the next three months exclusively on prospects with a high probability of buying before the end of the year. Have them find out which of their current prospects have year-end money available. They should also know when the fiscal year ends for each of their prospects, since if their fiscal year is ending at a different time than December, they may be in a completely different mode during what is everyone else's fourth quarter.

Don't Let the Holidays Take You by Surprise

Encourage your sales team to plan, and plan early for the inevitable. Prospects will go on vacation and be unavailable for weeks at a time. Key decision makers will be out of town, or out of the country. Finance will decide no major purchases should happen before the end of the year. Some organizations will, in effect, grind to a halt in late November and not really restart again until the beginning of next year. 

While there's nothing your sales representatives can do to make the holiday craziness go away, you can help them to be aware of it, and take preemptive steps to prevent it from affecting their performance unduly. Make sure they find out when their key prospects are going on vacation, and plan accordingly. Unless you are in a field related to retail and know that the holiday season is a big moneymaker for your company, It's also vitally important for your sales representatives to front-load their fourth quarter, and plan to make an especially hard push in October and November, since December is almost guaranteed to be a slow month.

Give them the support they need by organizing an exciting sales contest early in the quarter. If they can start off strong, it will make it easier to keep morale up later, and you'll already have a head start toward meeting your quarterly and yearly goals.

Do you need some help with training or motivating your sales team? Netpique has over a decade of experience helping companies like yours to increase organic growth through targeted sales solutions.