Holiday Deal Closing Guide (Part I)
Ensuring a successful close to the year.
The holidays are a stressful time for sales teams as the year comes to an end, and the calendar is packed with sales landmines. Sales reps that are unprepared can see their quarter go to s**t, and the dreams of a big commission check and quota go out the widow. Here is the first part of ten steps to ensure success and close out your book of business.
- Make a schedule of important dates.
Determining the key dates for the season as early as possible is critical to planning for the holidays. Plan your sales activities around major holiday dates and days of the week. Let’s take Thanksgiving in the United States as an example. Some businesses are closed for the entire week, and many begin to slow down on Tuesday and Wednesday, leading up to Thanksgiving on Thursday. Furthermore, 50% of businesses do not open the day after Thanksgiving. Working through your calendar can help you understand how many people you’re trying to sell to are unlikely to be responsive or present for sales conversations that week, so plan accordingly. Clarify early and often what your prospects’ out-of-office time will look like over the holidays; you can even weave it into your early rapport on a discovery call by asking what their holiday plans are and if they are taking any time off. Know your sequence of events and who needs to sign and when.
- Start setting expectations with your team and prospects early.
When it comes to meeting sales goals by the end of the year preparation is key. Creating a plan before the holidays so you know exactly where your team stands and what number you need to hit before the end of the year. It’s also important to set clear expectations with your prospects during this time, letting them know what timeline you’re working on and encouraging them to move through the sales process as quickly as possible. The good news is that many people understand that making purchasing decisions around the holidays can be difficult, so being a good project manager and scheduler can be very beneficial to the customer and can create some urgency.
- Make your target year-end close on December 10th.
Any concessions (whether pricing or terms) should expire on December 10th rather than December 31st, forcing negotiations to take place before stakeholders in Procurement and Legal are out of the office, which your well-meaning prospect may have overlooked. If you mention an expiration date for terms or discounts and your prospect says they’ll need a few weeks to decide, tell your prospects, “That’s fine, but this current discount will expire on December 10th.” This removes you from the stress of closing deals during the holidays, and shifts the frantic pace to your prospect.
- Close to allow for post-sale activity.
While most mid-level prospects are wrapping up for the year, operations and executive teams are often busy finishing important paperwork, planning for the new year, and balancing budgets. Even your most eager prospects will be unable to move their deals forward without these stakeholders; the solution? Close for post-sale activity. When you explain that waiting until January to close will delay onboarding and training until February or March, it puts the benefits of closing quickly into perspective, which may be just what your prospect needs to get final approvals as soon as possible.
- Schedule new business for January.
This may seem counterintuitive to the nature of sales, but hear me out: most new opportunities in mid-to-late November will not close by the end of the year, which means they are simply taking up time and resources that could be used to close existing opportunities. If a prospect requests a December demo or a late-November trial, simply tell them, “I’m afraid our trials are full through December, but I can get you scheduled first thing in January.” If your prospect says, “Great, let’s get January in the books,” you can focus on deals that have a real chance of closing before the end of the year; if your prospect says, “Is there anything you can do to squeeze us in this December?” you have a motivated buyer who may close quickly; capitalize on their eagerness, and move forward accordingly. Instead of filling your December calendar with demos and trials, book a plane ticket to that client who is about to close, or spend extra time coaching a prospect through gaining executive buy-in; these are subtle shifts that will help you beat your end-of-year number.
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