The seasonal break of summer, and all of the years of going back to school in September always make me approach these four months not as the month of September, the end of the quarter and then Q4, but as the four month quarter. Nothing really changes except the measurement stick of Q3-critical only for quota benchmarking, but in the practicality of day-to-day, month-to-month selling, this four month period, if properly planned-can become the most rewarding of the year. All it takes is just a bit of short term planning.
Step #1: Plan the Time
Between tomorrow and the end of the year, there are 77 selling days left in the year. I took out 1 day for the October long weekend, 2 days for Thanksgiving, and stopped selling on December 22nd, but did keep in the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s, which is very optimistic at best to think that I’m going to find all of the necessary decision makers in one place during that week. 77 may or may not sound like a lot of time, but in today’s world of selling, with average B2B cycles taking 90 days, 77 days is a very short period. Unless you methodically plan it out.
Tonight, when you go home, create a digital calendar. First, block off the time that you don’t have: holidays, your annual physical, whatever. Second, cross out what you know will be sales meetings, company reviews of Q3 and the countless meetings you will be dragged into for your 2011 sales planning.
What do you have left in actual selling days? Post the time with a countdown clock and gadget it predominately on your personal home page, or better yet, to your start page on your iPhone. You want it to wake you up first thing in the morning, kick you in the butt and drive you through the next steps in your jam packed day.
Step #2: Plan the Key Accounts
With 77 days left, success in these four months is most probably not going to come as a result of a brand new lead that pops up three or four weeks from now, that you wrestle to ground during October and November and finally bring in for a safe landing on December 27th. Sure, it might happen, but for the really big deals, nothing is going to happen by you waiting-for something to happen.
This week, but no later than this coming Saturday when you can take some quiet time and really think through this by yourself, note down the 10 Key Accounts that can make a $1 million dollar difference in total between now and the end of the year. I’m not sure about the $1 million metric since it depends who you are and where you are on the curve, but it should be something that you personally need to stretch for. It should be your personal quest for The Elusive Red.
My own number just happens to be $1 million; however, I couldn’t get it down to 10 accounts, so I’m working on 13. Most importantly I now have a game plan and know where I’m going to prioritize my time and, as importantly, this process disciplines me not to waste time on what might become opportunities, but in reality don’t have the mass or the velocity to make an impact this year. I’ll start seriously planning for 2011 come December. Right now, it’s all about chasing another million during these four months.
Step #3: Plan Your Value Prop
Think about this time as the beginning of your own personal football season. Winning is now all about being in top shape, training hard every single day, studying and drilling your key account game plans and then getting out on the field to execute perfectly. Sound like you?
If it doesn’t, then I might suggest that you pick just one skill where you know you can improve and drill yourself to perfection over the next 30 days. Since we see this problem all of the time, I would recommend that it’s in honing your value proposition of what you’re selling.
This is not your Mission Statement. It’s not your Elevator Speech. It’s the exact wording and the knowledge of when and how to use it that specifically describes the detailed VALUE that you bring that prospect.
Decision Makers today already know about your product and who you are by the time that you walk through the door or answer the phone for a scheduled sales call. They don’t need meaningless marketing fluff of what they can more easily read somewhere else. What they do need, and quite frankly expect, is that you’ve already taken the time to understand their market and their business before you have the meeting, and that what you’re now going to be able to do is to complete an exacting discovery process with them and be able to talk about the value that you can bring to solve their pain. This is value in financial metrics, in words that define movement from here to there and in definitions of business drivers for their company.
In an era of constant marketing messaging, creating and delivering effective value propositions that identify your uniqueness, I would suggest is that one skill that can make a huge difference over these next 77 days.
Click HERE for a few guidelines on creating value propositions, and, at any time, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or just call my cell at 617-504-4222. I’ll make sure that I get back to you by the end of that day.
Good Selling! It’s going to be a great 4 month quarter. !