Why The Greatest Sales Teams Just Kill It On Dec 31. When Everyone Else Has Gone Home.

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 1.27.46 PMThere are some real mysteries in SaaS. Even now that I understand them, I still see them as a bit of a mystery. Let me list a few:

  • Why do customers buy a ton of seats up front, when they could start with a few and buy more later?
  • Why do customers buy so much on the last day of the month? Great for sales reps looking to hit their quota. But why are customers in on it?
  • And the Greatest Mystery of All: Why The Heck Do Customers Buy So Much on December 31?

I mean think about it:

>> Nothing is going to get implemented at the very end of the year, even if it is purchased. Why bother buying then, if you’re not ready to deploy?

>> No one is left in the procurement department to issue a P.O.

>> Nothing extra is left in the budget. If there was budget to burn, it would have already been burnt earlier in the month of December.

>> No one is around. Your purchaser’s boss is off for the holidays. Some people are still working hard in the office — but probably not people that buy and deploy software. I mean, c’mon?

>> No new leads are coming in. Leads dry up at the end of the year, for natural reasons. No one is looking to buy anything new between Christmas and New Year’s.

So apologies in advance to those that disagree with me here. I know some will. But let me tell you what I’ve learned. Mediocre sales teams don’t close much at the very end of the year. Because there’s no intrinsic reason for the customers to buy then. Call me on January 6.

But the great sales team close an amazing amount at the end of the year. And the reason is simple, because it can really only be one thing. It’s not the slick pitch. It’s not the hard sell. And it’s not even the amazing product. And it’s certainly not really, not truly, some Soon-To-Expire-Last-Chance-Amazing Year End Discount.

No. It’s only one thing that would get me to buy on December 31, or you, or most customers.

It’s the relationship. It’s giving back. It’s when a sales rep has done such a great job helping the prospect through the discovery period, the trial period, the learning, the exploration … when the rep has truly added substantial value to the prospective customer’s discovery and decision process … that the rep has earned the right to ask for something back.

That something back, The Ask, is to exceed their year-end goal.

As the year ends, see who pulls in those amazing extra deals on December 30 and 31.

Those are your potential future leaders, either as individual contributors, or managers. The ones that truly not only understand the product and the pitch — and not even just how to deliver incredible value during the sales process — but the magic of how to connect that value to a signed contract.

And that drives down sales cycles, increases close rates, and drives up your revenue per lead. Magic.

7 comments

  1. Excellent reminder of what’s always important, even for small service-based businesses like mine, it’s always the relationship and giving back. Thank you. Merry Christmas and Happy new year.

  2. Slightly different color I’d contribute to your post.

    Mindshare
    Yes, your sponsor delivering based on the relationship you’ve developed in a crucial attribute of closing the deal, but in my experience this has less correlation to Dec specifically.

    The biggest contributing factor in my view is Mindshare. The top people you’re typically selling to are mentally not on “holidays”. The absolute best time to reach an exec is during a holiday, when there are less meetings and email they have to deal with. My sales team’s biggest months have always been Aug and Dec whereas less focused teams will relax and subscribe to “seasonal lull”.

    Especially with smaller ASP products (i.e. less sign off needed) where they have been meaning to sign the contract, but it just keeps getting forgotten in the daily melee. How many times have you fully intended to purchase something but it just keeps slipping. Either there is a compelling event that raises this to the top of your priority list, or you finally have uninterrupted time to get things done. Stellar sales teams get the mindshare any time of the year. In Aug/Dec, there’s an opportunity to get more of it.

    Mindshare = deal closed

  3. Agree with your conclusions. Those customers you have built the strongest relationships with will always do what they can to help you personally. I noted your phrase “The Ask, is to exceed their year-end goal”. I think here you are acknowledging the team may well have already made its number for the year but is motivated to excel.

    Killer teams are almost always ahead of their numbers and typically sandbagging into Q1. In order to rationalize the reach into their Q1 pipeline, there has to be a bigger reason… whether that is hitting a significant commission accelerator, taking a critical deal off the table with a quick strike, responding to a CEO plea, or clearing out the final remnants of a customer’s budget – there has to be a good reason to reach into Q1’s pipeline. Smart exec teams provide the right incentives to reward this behavior.

    I cannot begin to tell how you how many times I have seen sales teams look after their Q1 because they are not properly incented.

  4. Agree with your conclusions. Those customers you have built the strongest relationships with will always do what they can to help you personally. I noted your phrase “The Ask, is to exceed their year-end goal”. I think here you are acknowledging the team may well have already made its number for the year but is motivated to excel.

    Killer teams are almost always ahead of their numbers and typically sandbagging into Q1. In order to rationalize the reach into their Q1 pipeline, there has to be a bigger reason… whether that is hitting a significant commission accelerator, taking a critical deal off the table with a quick strike, responding to a CEO plea, or clearing out the final remnants of a customer’s budget – there has to be a good reason to reach into Q1′s pipeline. Smart exec teams provide the right incentives to reward this behavior.

    I cannot begin to tell how you how many times I have seen sales teams look after their Q1 because they are not properly incented.

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