The end of the year is quickly approaching—whether we’re ready or not. For many companies, impending deadlines and goals are overshadowed by the festivities of the holiday season. Data shows that, of any job function, sales productivity and performance is most impacted by the parties, vacations, and time out of the office at the end of the year. In fact, the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that 62% of companies experience a dip in sales productivity during the holiday season.
The last few months of the year are a critical time to drive revenue and meet sales goals. Whether your sales team is falling into a Q4 slump or is on the path to achieving their goals, here are a few steps to increase sales productivity and performance, finish the year off strong, and start 2018 off right.
Make a plan
The fourth quarter will be over before you know it. Now is the time to put a plan in motion—if you haven’t already—to avoid feeling overwhelmed at the height of the holidays. This is the optimal time to examine both outstanding deals and new opportunities, and create a plan to tackle the remaining to-do items for sales departments. Start by reviewing goals and tracking progress against end-of-year objectives and deal quotas. Are the expectations for the rest of the year realistic?
Is your team dedicating enough time to deals that are absolutely essential—or are you focusing on deals that are simply a drain on time and effort?
Once the most important deals are identified, sales teams can set reasonable and attainable expectations, and prioritize efforts to be productive. Create a timeline for the rest of the year that outlines daily and weekly tasks for each deal that needs to be accomplished before the holidays. Be sure to anticipate when you expect prospects to be out the office to ensure that you have enough time to close each deal.
A plan will help your team see what still needs to be done during the remainder of the year, but in order to ensure efficiency, teams need to know how to measure sales performance and how it correlates to productivity. Obviously, most sales performance is measured by quota attainment, but how is sales productivity measured? An appropriate sales productivity formula maximizes sales results while minimizing the resources used to achieve them.
Rather than forcing sales representatives to work harder, a better sales productivity definition focuses on utilizing time as effectively as possible. This is extremely important during the holiday season when reps are more likely to be out of the office.
It’s important to remind reps to work smarter during the holiday season and focus on items that matter most. In order to concentrate on quality over quantity, reps should focus on deals that are most likely to close and positively impact the bottom line of a business. One strategy to improve sales productivity includes reaching out to businesses that are already actively engaged with your organization, instead of prospecting and cold-calling during the height of the holiday season. Many reps assume that existing contacts will be out of the office or too busy with the end-of-year rush and don’t take the time to connect with them. On the contrary, it’s possible these customers feel an urgency to buy in order to spend the remainder of the year’s budget or get their organization ready for the new year. Focusing energy on deals that can be closed-won, rather than long-shots, is a more productive strategy—one that contributes to the success of the sales team and the company’s overall health.
As a sales team plans out the last few months of the year and looks to amplify their time, it’s also important to review progress against sales productivity metrics and KPIs. A rep may stay busy and give 100% effort, but if they aren’t focusing on the right activities, all that effort is wasted.
Tracking appropriate KPIs allows sales managers to make sure that reps are spending the right amount of time on beneficial tasks.
It’s not complicated to measure sales results, but it is more difficult to estimate the value of the sales process itself. As the end of the year approaches, organizations tend to worry about profits and ignore indicators of individual productivity. While profits are important, sales leaders and reps need to focus on volume, velocity, and activity-related KPIs. These numbers can provide insight to the conversion rate for appointments, the average amount of time it takes to close a deal, and more. Additionally, these measurements highlight problematic areas that require sales leaders and reps to look for new ways to improve sales performance in the New Year.
Mix and mingle with other teams
The holidays are the perfect time to unite with friends and family. This is also beneficial when it comes to working with other departments in your organization. The tendency to have marketing and sales operate separately is a significant problem for many organizations. A lack of communication and alignment cause company-wide disconnection, missed opportunities, and lower productivity. Aligning with other teams is one of the most impactful ways to increase productivity as seen in a study by the Aberdeen Group, which found that organizations with strong alignment average 15% higher level of quota attainment than those that don’t.
According to the same study by the Aberdeen Group, reps spend 30% of their day looking for or creating content. Yet 70% of the content that is created by marketing never gets used by sales. By aligning sales and marketing, these teams can identify and create relevant and helpful content that provides reps with more time to improve sales techniques, make calls, and close deals. This important strategy also equips reps with appropriate content and key messages in the absence of marketing teammates during the holiday season.
The fourth quarter doesn’t need to be a precarious time for productivity. By using these steps to put a streamlined plan in motion, sales teams can set the pace for a productive quarter that will ultimately set the company up for success in the new year.
Sales planning with Lessonly
Lessonly helps forward-thinking sales teams learn, practice, and perform at the highest levels. Use Lessonly to propel sales reps toward contacting more prospects, making more calls, and closing more deals year round. Want to see if Lessonly can help your sales team? Take a tour today