So, Q1 is done and dusted! The start to the new sales year has either created a great platform for success or it has provided a need to have to play catch up in Q2 and perhaps beyond. Whatever your position, now is not the time to be doing laps of honor or allowing yourself to look at the remainder of the year with the feeling of doom. Here are some thoughts that may help to get you off the end of quarter sales treadmill.
When we get to the end of a period that is measured in time and immediately start the next period, the natural inclination is to take our foot off the gas in the new period. We have this great desire to take a deep breath. The problem is that in taking this deep breath our mindset and activities change, and it can take some time to be working at full tilt once again. I suggest that you consider your approach to the last 2 weeks of the previous quarter.
Here’s a little activity to help you plan and improve your performance cycle.
- On a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and on the right-side, list your attitudinal characteristics and on the left, your activities for the last 2 weeks of the previous quarter
- Now, on a separate sheet of paper, do the same exercise as above but for the first 2 weeks of the new quarter.
- Compare your mindset and activities between the two periods.
See a difference?
This difference has just taken the 13 weeks of the new quarter and reduced it by however long it takes you to be working at full speed once again. If it takes you 2 weeks per quarter, you have just reduced your selling time by 8 weeks per year. Imagine if your sales management leader came to you and said that you were required to do the same amount of business every year, but it had to be achieved over 10 months rather than 12. I doubt that you would ever find that acceptable, however by your own actions and mindset you have potentially imposed this limitation on yourself.
Many companies will have a track record of doing a disproportionate amount of their quarter’s business in the last month. For some it could be as much as 50% to 60%. It is a phenomenon that most sales people will have some experience of.
However, it’s not just sales people. Buyers also are very aware of how the sales calendar works and will use it to their advantage. Discounts will become bigger, special offers created, and various forms of promotions and incentives publicized. Our actions as sales people and our companies are creating a platform to do less profitable business while having to handle price-based objections.
Ever thought of bucking the trend? If there is an expectation within your market for you to offer price-based promotions don’t do them at the end of the quarter. Shake it up a bit and perhaps do them across the end of the first and beginning of the second months of the quarter. This may not change theneed to provide discounts, but it starts to get buyers out of the habit of leaving their decisions to the end of the quarter, the behavior that we have conditioned them to demonstrate. It also may give you the chance to do your business earlier in the quarter, creating a more even level of performance from one month to the next, which means the last 2 weeks of a quarter can be used to smash right through the target rather than fighting to just achieve it.
Let’s also consider the environment within the business in the very pressurized last 2 weeks of a quarter. Is it this period that we make our best decisions, do sales leaders manage and mentor their teams in the most effective and inspirational manner? Probably not. Effective leadership is about continuity and consistency, we simply can’t be seen to change our approach based on performance, this level of short termism does not create the loyalty and commitment that great leaders automatically generate.
There is an old saying; “if you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you always got.” There is no better example of this than how many sales organizations react at the end of every quarter. We reap what we sow in this profession.