As the end of the year rapidly approaches, it’s hopefully a time of celebration for business leaders at growing startups. It can also be a time of high pressure, especially if you’re a new leader at one of the hundreds of companies that received seed funding this year who needs to report to investors on the year for the first time. Luckily, there are some seasonal sales tips for closing your year strong that hold true every Q4, and here they are for you:
1. By the end of October/beginning of November, you’re essentially halfway through Q4, so act like it. While crazy closes can happen in December (I’ve even seen people make half their quarter in between Christmas and New Year’s), you should be disciplined and consider that month null due to holiday breaks, holiday travel, holiday party hangovers…all things holidays. That’s not to say you should stop working (don’t worry bosses reading this), but get your ducks in a row before Thanksgiving, and find creative ways to push your buyers to commit by the first weeks of December. For me personally, I always act like Halloween is the halfway point in the quarter, and I prompt my team (and myself) accordingly to review their pipelines, and lay down on paper what they’ll tactically do to advance deals and personal goals to fruition now, instead of a month from now.
2. Use the end of the year to create a sense of urgency, but please don’t do it by saying to your customers, “I need to close this in 2017.” Urgency should always be created for the benefit of your customer, not you. Keep this at the center of your messaging. Instead, think about legitimate reasons. For example, most early stage SaaS companies review pricing annually, if not more frequently. You can politely remind your customers that product pricing will be reviewed by your team in January, so in order to lock in the best price possible, they’ll need to sign by end of year. Also, do not give away anything (discounts, customer references, additional products/features for free) without asking for something in return from your buyers. This is one of the best sales tips for closing your year with a bang. Some great asks from your client include: a commitment to sign by end of quarter, the promise of setting up a meeting with their decision maker, or a two year contract. You can even proactively mention extra benefits you’re willing to give the customer to remove friction on their end in moving forward, and what you’d like in return (i.e. urgency on their part) to get ahead of having to do it later over Christmas dinner. Don’t do it to your family!
3. Be acutely aware of your customer’s budget, and if you haven’t asked them by now, ask them how they set it and when they can execute against it. If you think this is too forward–don’t. If you do it with the right tone and at the right stage in your conversations, your customer will welcome the question. In fact, it is one of the best sales tips for closing your year successfully as it can strengthen your relationship with your potential customer. Say something like “I definitely want to make sure we’re using your time wisely. In order to do that, can you provide an idea of how your group thinks about budgeting for this, and with that in mind, when you’d like to ideally sign up for XYZ service to help you out with ABC? I want to act in line with your expectations.” This is an important conversation to have. You do not want to be in a situation where your customer agrees to sign up “soon,” you commit to your team that you’ll close that deal, but in reality the customer means they will sign on January 1 when their budget renews. On the flipside, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that a customer that has been dragging since the summer actually has extra budget leftover that they need to use by December 31st, and a goal to have something in place by then for their organization.
4. Speaking of goals, just like you have annual ones, your customers do too. Hopefully you’ve already had an honest conversation with your potential buyer as to what those are and where your software or product can solve that for them. One excellent piece of advice given to me early in my career was to always think deeply about each customer’s goals. Not just what they say out loud to someone trying to sell to them, but digging a bit deeper, and trying to figure out answers to questions like, how is this person “goaled” internally? What will get them a promotion? What might help them get paid more? How do they earn more kudos from their team? I’m not naive, and I won’t pretend buying a piece of software solves all of that. But I also believe they’re top of mind to your buyer, and you’ll have both their attention, and their willingness to move at speed, if you align yourself here. Play into those emotions as you discover them, and think about how your product can help your client also wrap the year up with a bang by helping them hit their personal goals before the year is up. Arm them with a story like, “When we first spoke, you mentioned that there was a big initiative on your end to solve X in 2017. Assuming that’s still true, I’d love to help you get this in place by the end of the quarter, and provide some context around what we’ve been working on together to share with your group or manager.”
If you can learn to consistently build that trust, understanding, and value-exchange with your customers, then both sides will be heading into 2018 happily. Utilize these 4 quick sales tips for closing your year with a bang.
If you liked “4 Quick Sales Tips For Closing Your Year With A Bang” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog.