Here we are, Q4. The grand finale for both purveyors of technology and their buyers. End of year budgets must be spent, and sales plans launched in January are ripe for harvest. Even your favorite experts agree. Early in the year they released their outlook reports for 2017, stating that “Yup, companies are going to spend a lot on technology.” Now is the time. I can’t tell you who trained who to operate this way; the buyer or the seller, but this is a phenomenon that is deeply ingrained in B2B life. Yet there is another dynamic at work in Q4, one less well understood: the Q4 Runway. In short, for sales leaders who are about to miss the annual plan, the fourth quarter provides silent avenues for a strong launch into 2018.
For a bunch of you, this holiday season is going to be awesome. Nothing like a commission check so large it feels like a dump truck should be delivering it. But there’s another group (and you know it now) who will be polishing resumés in a few weeks. In short, this wasn’t your year. What went wrong? You probably already know but if you don’t, you’ll soon have plenty of time on your hands to figure it out.
And for the Sales Leader?
For the sales leader, the dynamics are a tad different. Call them the VP of Sales, VP of Revenue, Chief Revenue Officer, even the CEO; it’s the person on the hook for delivering the whole number. At least 40% of them fail to hit plan each year. Sometime in August or September (hopefully earlier) they started to see the writing on the wall. “The plan is not working; current trajectory says we are going to fail”. The implications are manifest, everything from hiring plans, new product development, current headcount and shareholder value are at stake.
Not to worry, the sales leader is the leader precisely because they’ve done this before. Instead of panicking, they put together a gap plan with scenarios A, B & C to cover the hole. You know the rest: for some, these plans will work out and for others…it won’t.
Immediate Actions to Avoid a Repeat
For sales leaders who know this year will not be one to remember, Q4 poses its own set of opportunities for course correction. To be blunt, the plan didn’t materialize, so take advantage of the hidden runways in Q4 to make sure you launch the team into 2018 prepared to take down the year. Here’s a few steps I’d recommend to any sales leader looking to avoid a repeat:
Does this all sound simplistic and overly obvious? If so, that’s because it is. No rocket science or brain surgery here; this is day one stuff. But if it is so obvious, then why are so many sales leaders in this position right now, in November 2017?
Take advantage of the hidden ramps in Q4, launch into 2018 and make sure you don’t end up in this spot again.