In 2004, the Boston Red Sox were down 3 games to zero against the New York Yankees in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, left for dead by critics and their fans alike. They would go on to win four straight games to upset the Yankees, go to the World Series and win their first Major League Baseball championship in 86 years!
Last Sunday night, the New England Patriots found themselves staring at a 24-0 deficit at halftime against the Denver Broncos. Advanced NFL Stats noted that the Patriots had less than a 3% chance of winning the game at this point. Of course, they stormed back to score 31 straight points in the second half, eventually winning the game in overtime.
What does this all mean (other than the fact that we’re too obsessed with our sports up here in Boston)?
That even when all hope seems lost, when there appears to be no possible chance of winning, when Q4 is swiftly coming to a close and you are nowhere near hitting your quota – it’s not over until it’s over!
There is only a month of selling days left in the calendar year. For those sales managers with bleak bookings trajectories, they should look to the likes of David Ortiz and Tom Brady for inspiration. All you have to do is dig in, take a deep breath, look at the data on what you’ve been doing and make the appropriate adjustments. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, and I don’t see her on stage yet.
Here are three tips on how to turn Q4 around – before its too late! – and make that late-game comeback that could make you a hero. Just like the Red Sox and the Patriots.
Pick at low-hanging fruit
The urgency of time means you have to find wins where you can. This means focusing on your opportunities that have the highest-probability of winning. That $1 million opportunity might make your eyes light up, but be realistic; what are your odds of closing that opportunity in the next month, or even at all?
This is one area where we can take a direct lesson from those beloved Red Sox. By looking at a Strike Zone report, sales managers will be able to identify their most winnable opportunities based on value or age. Instead of wasting ‘at-bats’ chasing at pitches or opportunities that are “low and away,” i.e. are difficult to win, managers can help their reps focus on these winnable opportunities. Even if they might not be as valuable or as shiny as other opportunities, these low-hanging fruits can be won quickly, helping you make up your bookings deficit before the end of the year.
Identify your campaigns with the shortest marketing cycles or sales cycles
Time is of the essence, so it is critical to find your speediest campaigns. Start by looking at your marketing cycle over time to identify which campaigns have converted leads to opportunities the quickest. According to this report, leads created in June converted into opportunities at nearly twice the average speed; perhaps you should run one of your June campaigns again.
Additionally, look at your sales cycle broken down by opportunities. Look at the opportunities that had the shortest sales cycles. Is there a common theme among those opportunities? Were they companies from a similar industry? Were they all worked on by the same sales rep? Was there a different demo method applied to those opportunities? In performing this type of analysis, you want to find positive results that can be turned into repeatable behavior and applied going forward, especially in December of Q4!
Dig into a lost opportunity campaign
Just because an opportunity said no 6 months ago doesn’t mean that they have closed the door on you permanently. Now, at the end of the year, might actually be a great time to revisit those lost opportunities. Maybe these opportunities are now ready to buy, and can be a great source of bookings that you had not previously accounted for, helping you fill in your missing quota.
This is also a great way to solve a pipeline deficit – even if these opportunities don’t get closed by the end of Q4, it will set you up for a sterling start to 2014. While you might not be able to demonstrate a strong bookings trajectory to end Q4, you can at least point to your pipeline history and show a growing pipeline heading into the new year, thanks in large part to this lost opportunity campaign.
These sales tips can help you turn Q4 right around and hit your bookings goal for the quarter. However, not only did Ortiz, Brady and their teammates and coaches make the necessary adjustments needed to engineer their miraculous comebacks – they also believed, and inspired each other to believe, that anything was possible. Inspire your reps, have confidence in them and yourself, dig into the data, find actionable insights, apply them, and you too could be a comeback king and a veritable hero!