(This article originally authored by Charlotte Leasia and Kathryn Aragon appeared on saleshacker.com)
End of quarter…
It can evoke a range of emotions.
For some, EOQ (end of quarter) brings up reflection, planning, and celebrating company milestones. For those of us in sales, it can be stressful, unpredictable, and downright exhausting.
It helps to have some proven tips for closing the deals in your pipeline and hitting your target. To figure out what’s working today, we partnered with Outlaw to survey top sales professionals to get their best tips.
What We Discovered
Preferred Engagement Channels
When communication stalls, Closers’ default engagement channels are the phone and email. More than a third of Closers (42%) prefer to reengage with a prospect with a phone call. Nearly a fourth (23%) prefer to email prospects.
Common Deal Roadblocks
The #1 roadblock Closers come up against at the end of the quarter is aligning with all stakeholders. A close second is unexpected stalling. Two roadblocks — bottlenecks at my or the buyer’s company and price negotiations — tie for third.
74% of the closers we surveyed prefer a flexible closing process. They report using various strategies to close deals based on the prospective customer.
Only a fourth (26%) follow a step-by-step process once a deal reaches a certain stage.
Preferred Communication Style to Close the Deal
More than half of the salespeople we surveyed (55%) rely on a detailed, personalized approach to close deals. A fourth (26%) prefer a direct, to-the-point approach.
Overcoming Deal Fatigue
The #1 tactic for overcoming deal fatigue is to reiterate the value and ROI of the product/service. The second-most-preferred method is to set up additional meetings with stakeholders.
Tips from Closers for End-of-Quarter Success
We asked closers what their number-one end-of-quarter closing strategy is to ensure they close the deal and meet or beat quota. Here’s what they told us.
Mary Grothe, Sales BQ
My #1 strategy to get the close before end-of-quarter is to get the prospect to agree to make a buying decision and execute before the 11th hour…. but get that agreement during the initial discovery meetings.
I never wait to close a deal until the last step. I gain agreement on the front end of the conversations that they WILL make a yes or no decision by a certain date.
Once they agree, they stick to it. Rarely will they go back on the agreement unless something comes up that’s out of their control. We also discuss the decision-making process up-front so there are no surprises (legal, board, silent partner, etc.). I set clear expectations, gain agreement on them, and align my selling style to my buyer’s buying style because we uncover and discus both up-front.
Matt Guarino, Algolia
Just making sure expectations are aligned. If so, it’s no problem being direct and asking when they can make a decision or if the pricing works.
Steve Powers, Infotelligent
Work in tandem with the business to ensure there are no “A HA!” moments after paperwork is delivered.
Andrew Oddo, Bowery Capital
Refer back to our qualification conversation and remind the prospect of why they engaged with us to begin with. Also, note that pricing has the potential to increase next quarter.
Samantha McKenna, LinkedIn
I like to create urgency at the very beginning, tying incentives that benefit the buyer directly.
Alex Greer, Signal-HQ
Firm expiration of negotiated price is the single best way we bring an opportunity to close if it is stalled.
Hold Them Accountable
Alex Kudelka, Doodle
I schedule weekly, bi-weekly, and daily calls on the calendar to hold both parties accountable. We agree they are flexible and can be canceled, but it is there to show mutual commitment and keeps momentum. All parties are added to the invitation.
Relationship and/or Hand-Holding
Chad Dyar, Hearsay Systems
Stay on the phones. The more people you talk to, the more likely you are to close those last few deals. Worst case scenario, you fill up the pipeline for the next quarter.
Madison Hilali, Bluecore
I think building strong relationships with the buyer/client/prospective client is key to my quota attainment/closing deals. In building a relationship, the buyer gains trust and sees me as a partner as opposed to just a salesperson.
Mike Egbert, Pilot
This only applies if you’re in the same metro as your prospect, but I tell my team all the time that if they want to ensure to the best of their ability that when the order is sent over it’s going to actually be executed, bring it to them and walk them through the process in person.
There is no better leverage than to be physically in the office with them. They are so much less likely to punt it into the next week or month when you’re sitting with them, looking them in the eyes, guiding them through the close.
Never remain out of touch with your client, especially through pivotal points in the closing process! I personally take an approach/apply the strategy of “high-touch” through the entire project, which results in always having meaningful contact and never losing touch.
Every so often I have a client who goes dark but otherwise this pretty much guarantees I’m corresponding with them every step of the way, so I can mitigate anything that could come up fairly easily.
Evan Schneyer, Outlaw
I’m not actually in sales per se, but as a founder, I’ve found the following strategy to be immensely helpful in various negotiation scenarios from sales to fundraising to M&A to hiring.
Look for the other side’s unspoken, hidden motivations. If you’re able to identify those, it can be immensely powerful in getting a deal done — and fast.
A good example in a SaaS sales context is that a buyer will frequently want to be viewed internally (and have their own performance assessed) as a “change agent.” In other words, they want to be the hero.
But the trick is, no one will ever come out and say, “I want to be the hero in my org,” and in many cases, they’re not even fully aware of it themselves. But if you watch out for behaviors that indicate that motivation, then you can adjust your sales strategy accordingly.
Again, you never want to actually come out and say, “Here, this will make you a hero.” But instead, you can arm them with various superpowers (e.g., specific collateral, free trials, personalized training sessions) that serve this unspoken need. In many cases, this is enough to push a deal over the finish line, and even if not, you’ll definitely have gained a major advocate in the prospect org.
Focus on the Pipeline
Jake Reni, Tile.co
Keep a constant healthy qualified pipeline with 3x–4x quota coverage.
Amy Volas, Avenue Talent Partners
No matter what time of the month, quarter, or year it may be, keep your pipeline strong, always. This approach has never let me down. The only times I’ve struggled, I had let my pipeline “go” for a period of time. Foolish mistake. I was fortunate enough to learn early on in my career.
Ruthie Nissim, West Corporation
To hit quota, I rely on several things: a healthy pipeline, a solid qualifying process, heavy but personalized outbound activity, and a tried and true 10-step process learned and implemented by Anthony Iannarino.
John Barrows, JBarrows Sales Training
I keep a big fat pipeline, so I never have to worry about the end of the quarter.
Jacob Nelson, Openprise
I rely on two things: (1) enough pipeline coverage to save yourself regardless of deals stalling or falling, and (2) incentive on terms or price in emergency scenarios only.
My secret is to build 5x pipeline entering each quarter.
Khan Mohammed Kareem, Mobily
I get busy prospecting through various media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Newspapers), all of which provide strong leads that can be converted into deals!
Pete Reitano, Abacus
I like to pull in executive sponsorship towards the end-of-quarter, provided I’ve have built great rapport with my prospect. Ideally, I’ll have a contract in hand and we’ve identified the correct stakeholders. I think having executive sponsorship towards the end of a deal shows that we are invested in a true partnership and not just trying to sell them a piece of software.
Just Do It
Plan ahead and close deals as early and often as possible.
Richard Harris, The Harris Consulting Group
JFDI: Just fucking do it.
It takes skills and nerves of steel to hit quota at the end of the quarter. But most closers rely on just a few simple techniques:
- Setting expectations early
- Creating urgency to keep the buyer focused
- Holding the buyer accountable
- Relationship building and hand-holding
- Keeping the pipeline full
- Getting executive buy-in
But the best advice of all? Just get it done. Adopt a can-do mindset, and do whatever it takes to close the deal.