December 31st. The end of the month. That’s scary. The end of the quarter. That’s very scary. The end of the year. That is like the first time you saw the Exorcist and had no idea what was going on. It’s a sad reality for those of us in sales that the most festive time of the year is also potentially the most stressful time of the year from a business perspective. But, this is what separates the wheat from the chaff in our profession. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Here are a few time-tested tips to end out the year strong, while setting the table for a strong start to the New Year.
Close out what you can
Odds are your sales quota does not just disappear on December 1st, so you will definitely want to close out as much business as possible before the ball drops in Times Square. This requires a lot of persistent outreach, and a few good rebuttals when your prospects tell you that things are really busy and they want to revisit things next year. Here are a couple of options:
Offer to lock pricing in if they proceed by the end of this year. Odds are, their business assesses pricing on a yearly basis and open projects are a part of that evaluation. Another possibility is that the proposal you put in front of them expires (if this isn’t the case, take that as a lesson learned. All proposals should have an expiration date)
Use any remaining budget before next year. Most businesses have a set cycle for establishing and using budget for certain projects. Many departments have a “use it or lose it” policy around budgets, where if they do not use their budget this year, it will not be there next year. You can position your service to fall into the current budget so they don’t lose it next year.
If all else fails, this is a great time to remind your prospect to get started on project before the end of the year. Many projects kick off at the beginning of January, so this is a chance to convince them that you can slip them in early, thus giving them a jumpstart when everybody returns after the holidays.
If not, prepare for next year
If there is no chance to close these deals before the year ends, then you should focus on building as strong of a pipeline as possible for next year. Many people take off between Christmas and New Year, but not everybody. This is an unexpectedly good time to prospect. You may catch people who are in the office trying to complete busy work and who are in more of a mood to talk because they aren’t bogged down in endless meetings. If not, there is a very good chance that you will get out of office messages from a lot of people. These are valuable because they will often contain contact information of people that you can reach out to in the absence of your main contact. In addition, many contacts may leave alternative contact information to get in touch with them (just use sparingly as you do not want to call somebody’s personal phone if they are off spending holiday time with family.
Finally, this is a good time to nurture your pipeline for next year. Reach out to as many people in your pipeline for next year as possible and start getting the wheels in motion a couple of weeks early. You will thank yourself when all of your colleagues are two steps behind you in early January.