Today’s modern reps move to new companies and roles every few years (or less). With this ever-shrinking sales talent lifecycle, enablement feels increased pressure to maximize productivity. That means finding better ways to focus and deliver readiness efforts (like training or coaching) when, where and how the sales force works.
We all know Q4 is a critical and often stressful time for sales teams.
Many companies close a large portion of their new business opportunities between October and December. Prospects are typically easier to reach – and more inclined to buy – than during the slow summer months. And sales reps are, of course, staring down the barrel of their annual quota. Combined, these factors can make for a hectic quarter.
Sales enablement leaders and sales managers might not be the ones closing new business, but they’re obliged to support their sellers however possible. Below are 6 ways you can position your sales organization for Q4 success, without overwhelming reps or depriving them of precious selling time.
6 Sales Tips to Keep Reps Sane in Q4
1. Help Sales Reps Prioritize Their Pipeline
When time is in short supply, your salespeople need to pursue opportunities strategically and efficiently.
Encourage reps to consider all factors in determining 1) which deals they will close, 2) may close and 3) have no chance of closing, says Brainshark Chief Readiness Officer Jim Ninivaggi. Deals that won’t bring in enough revenue to justify the time spent selling – or deals that simply consume too much of your rep’s bandwidth – can and should be ignored for the time being.
Salespeople might not agree with you on every opportunity, especially if they have a high hill to climb when it comes to meeting quota. Remind them that not all wins are of equal value, and by prioritizing time effectively, they’ll close more of the right kinds of deals.
2. Create a Deal Desk
Deal desks are built to equip sales reps with the resources they need to accelerate the sales process, with the goal of closing deals faster and increasing efficiency.
They’re most useful to companies with long, complex sales cycles or slow-moving internal processes, such as pricing review, contract generation and other legal matters, says Ninivaggi. Deal desks also work best when cross-functional roles take ownership across the sales cycle, according to executive consultant Jim Barnish.
SiriusDecisions defines the role of a deal desk as being “responsible for reviewing and approving pricing and deal structure, ensuring compliance with price structure, profitability and solution components.” The research firm recommends companies take 4 steps when implementing one in their sales organizations.
3. Collaborate with Reps on Stalled Deals
Counting on a deal to close, only to have prospects drag their feet during the final stages, can be maddening for sellers – especially if they’re seriously invested in the relationship. Another set of eyes, such as a manager or an embedded sales coach, can give your salespeople a fresh perspective and, perhaps more importantly, prevent them from pushing a prospect to close too quickly.
What advice can you share with reps? Hubspot suggests reps present a solution’s ROI in a new light or introduce new data that helps validate the buyer’s decision.
For example, if a seller has hammered the efficiency benefits of a product in previous sales meetings, encourage him or her to bring up the cost savings that buyer would realize with your product. Alternatively, blog posts, case studies, testimonials or positive press coverage can all be useful ways to soothe tentative buyers.
4. Approach Sales Coaching Strategically
There’s no denying the value of sales coaching. But in the pressure-cooker that is Q4, you must also be conscious of your reps’ time by focusing only on the key activities that will lead to new business.
Consider conducting an informal coaching activity that addresses a skills gap, or provide just-in-time learning around an area where reps are struggling, such as objection-handling.
For example, you could assign the entire sales team to share one piece of advice for moving a stalled deal forward, or describe one time-saving “hack” they use to increase productivity. Your seasoned reps’ sales tips could be very valuable to their less experienced peers.
5. Leverage Marketing for Support
Content can be a great resource for moving deals forward. But if your sales reps don’t have the right kind of content at their disposal – or if they’re spending egregious amounts of time trying to find it in a content library – then closing becomes that much harder.
Ideally, your company will have already taken steps throughout the year to ensure marketing and sales are on the same page. If that’s not the case, you can take stock of any perceived “content gaps” that need to be filled during Q4 planning, or you can ask marketing to prioritize creation of bite-sized content – such as a video or blog post – that will help reps engage buyers.
6. Lean on Technology to Keep the Selling Saw Sharp
When every sales rep is under the microscope, they’ll take any advantage that’s available. Luckily, if you’re using a sales readiness platform such as Brainshark, then creating, organizing and delivering content to your sales force is already a piece of cake.
But content alone won’t teach sales reps how to apply the right value messaging to buyer conversations. This is where sales training and just-in-time learning capabilities are vital to improving reps’ connections with buyers.
For example, sales managers or enablement leaders could quickly create informal learning courses on timely topics, which in Q4 could be deal escalation or pricing negotiations. Reps using Brainshark are then able to access that training on-demand, whenever and wherever they might be working.
By having key information when they need it, sellers can show up to every meeting equipped with the skills and knowledge to crush it.
The key to ensuring your sales team stays prepared in Q4 and beyond? It's sales readiness. Download our exclusive eBook on the 4 Pillars of Sales Readiness to learn more.