End of Quarter Sales Results: Take Inventory and Recalibrate

End of Quarter Sales Results: Take Inventory and Recalibrate

Categories: Sales Messaging  |  Sales Process

It's the end of another quarter. As a sales leader, you are either feeling good about where the rest of the year is going or you are starting to get knots in your stomach trying to figure out how you are (1) going to fix what's not working and (2) move forward to finish the year strong.

If you are in the latter group, take a minute and ask yourself, "What the people on your team are thinking right now?" When reps get to the end of the first quarter, they are always asking themselves, "Can I still make it this year or is the year over for me?"

They may not say it aloud, but no doubt they’re thinking it. The question for you as a sales leader is, “What am I doing to help all of my reps to participate in their own rescue?” 

There is a sense of urgency when a sales team misses their numbers in any quarter. The problem is the sense of urgency doesn’t always result in the right remedy. Here's what to consider as you move forward.

What Not to Do:

I had a sales leader at one of my former companies that provided me a great example of what not to do when the sales numbers are lacking. This topic made me think of one end-of-quarter meeting with him where I thought I might lose my job. But, it provided me with a fruitful anecdote for my current career.

I was a front-line manager and for whatever reason, I was invited to sit in on a meeting with sales leadership and their direct reports. (A bit of foreshadowing. . . I wasn’t in the meeting to participate. I was supposed to just listen.) 

We had just wrapped up the quarter and we were falling behind on a critical new product line. The Senior Vice President started the meeting by discussing how the reps were struggling to make their quota and how important the new product was to our revenue and profit lines. He then championed a sales leader from the Carolinas for what she was doing to boost sales in her territory.

This sales leader sent a personalized memo to every sales rep and told them that instead of selling four of these machines, each rep now needed to sell seven. Now if that isn’t a defined sales strategy, I don’t know what is! So, I chuckled a little bit and one of the SVPs minions in the room says to me, “Brian, do you have a comment?”

I said, “No I don’t have a comment.” The room kept pressing me, including the SVP himself. So when he asked me what my comment was, I was dumb enough to think he actually wanted an answer.

I told him in so many words that I didn’t think that memo was an effective way to drive results. I said to the room, “Don’t you think reps already know what the expectation is? Reps already know their number. They know they’re behind. They don’t need someone to tell them to go sell more. They need to know why what they did didn't work.” After I finished my “comment”, the SVP called for a break. 

Yikes. One of the senior managers I was sitting next to leaned in and, said, “Well, Brian, it was nice knowing you.” Fortunately, it wasn’t the end of my career. (It may have foreshadowed my current career.) Unfortunately, though, the sales leadership in the room didn’t heed my comments. Even though I was low on the totem pole, I think I had a valid point.

What to Do:

Focus on the how. You can’t give people direction that doesn’t ensure they know how to execute that direction and drive sales results.

When your first quarter isn’t something to celebrate a lot of managers go into reaction mode.

  • They schedule a string of deal-loss reviews, but they don’t do anything to act on the problems they uncover.
  • They order their front-line managers to do more inspection, but those managers don’t have the tools or skills to drive consistency in the review process.
  • They force their sales teams to squeeze half-baked deals out of the pipeline, and they end up forcing discounts just to close the deals.

Avoid only focusing on the number. That’s why these techniques never work. It’s never about the what. It’s got to always be about the how. You can’t shout at the scoreboard without understanding the process that got you there. Telling your reps to sell more, without telling them how to sell more won’t increase sales. There’s a reason you missed the number and it's likely skill. Do your reps have the ability to consistently: 

If not, that’s probably why you’re missing the number. Upping the quota for this quarter won’t get you there. Help your team understand “HOW” to go out and sell more. Focus on coaching and creating sales actions that will help each salesperson start:

  •  Building more pipeline.
  •  Qualifying better deals, faster.
  •  Shortening sales cycles.

Provide Actionable and Valuable Support to Your Team

You’ve got 66 sales days in each quarter to help your reps answer the question, “Can I still make the year happen?” They’ll know, through your engagement with them that they can make their year happen. They will achieve their plan. They will participate in the team’s overall success.

Take a step back and determine where you need to recalibrate. Don’t scream at the scoreboard. Adjust your process. Find the how. Leverage all of our coaching the coaches resources to help your managers have a bigger impact on rep performance and growth.

New call-to-action

Sales Pro Central