We don’t have to tell you how crazy the last quarter of the year can be.

Summer’s over. Holidays are approaching. Reps are feeling the pressure to push through those final deals. You have quotas to meet, and a new year of sales to plan. This is the make-or-break quarter.

But it’s also an opportunity to hit – and exceed – your numbers, and to set yourself up for success in 2019.

To get the most out of your final fiscal quarter, you need to ramp up efforts ahead of time, so you hit the ground running when October comes.

First, set a reachable Q4 goal — and get analytical about it.

Where you stand going into Q4 will dictate the priorities you set for your team. You should be tracking your progress on quotas throughout the year, but take some time to step back and see how you’re doing in 2018 compared to previous years and your annual targets.

A good place to start? “Calculate the number of customers you have to sign to hit your goal based on your historical deal size and velocity,” suggests Dan Tyre, sales director at HubSpot. “Work backwards from these numbers to determine the number of demos, discovery calls, and connects you’ll need to make by month, week, and day.”

Use that data to set goals for your team. If you’re ahead of the game, you might focus on setting up a fantastic Q1; if you’re behind, those end-of-year sales will receive more of the spotlight.

Then, give your team everything they need to achieve those objectives.

Remove roadblocks

By now, you should know what is and isn’t working in your sales process and on your team. With the summer behind you, look at the results and pinpoint areas for improvement ahead of your end-of-year push.

    • Review your process. Take a good, hard, and honest look at each step in the sales process and how deals flow through your pipeline. Dig through your data, ask the hard questions, and solve blockages that are holding up progress.
  • Book around the calendar. Q4 is chock-full of holidays. Make note of vacations on your team and the vacations your clients are planning. Plan around them so you’re not making an important request the day before the plane leaves.
  • Check in with your tech. Your sales enablement technology is there to make your reps more productive and efficient. If there’s anything that isn’t contributing to that goal, cut it out. If there’s a time-sucking task you can automate, get a system set up before the final push.

Boost your team

Your quota is a number, but achieving it isn’t completely a numbers game. It’s one of attitude, too, and increased pressure during an already stressful holiday season can impact motivation and morale. Make sure your reps are on top of their game.

  • Touch base with your reps. Ask if there’s anything holding them back and address performance issues ahead of the holiday rush. Your interest and suggestions go a long way in boosting confidence for their next call.
    • Invest in sales training. You’ve seen what your team does well. You’ve seen where they could use extra practice. While you should make training a priority year-round, now’s the next best time to provide support to build their skills.
  • Practice objection handling. Give every potential sale in Q4 the best chance of success by making objections a priority. Share your knowledge and leverage the knowledge of your sales reps of all experience levels to make sure no objection goes unanswered.

Finally, think about the new year.

How could we talk about Q4 without mentioning the upcoming Q1? Part of your job is to make sure sales flow through smoothly, and that you hit that year-end number. But you’re also preparing for the beginning of a new cycle.

    • Embrace new leads. You’ll start the new year off on the right foot if you’ve got a couple of deals in the pipeline already. It may take some balancing work, but don’t let the rush for Q4 numbers take attention away from great opportunities you find over the next few months.
    • Forecast for success. You already analyzed past performance and planned for Q4. You’ll also need to take a look at your performance over the past year as a whole, and start planning for your targets over the next four quarters.
  • Create a goal to drive your team. Goals give us something to aim for and achieve as a team. Make sure your team knows what that goal is ahead of the new year, so they can start working toward it without starting from scratch in January.

Will you end the year with a bang? It depends on the steps you take right now. With the right preparation, it could be your best season yet.

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