Today we’re going to talk about Q4. So for many of you, this will be your first Q4. And normally it is one of the most stressful quarters but when we mash in the craziness of 2020, for many companies, it’s going to be a hot mess.
And so today I want to speak a little bit about what to normally expect in Q4, what you would normally do to thrive, but then also how this year a global pandemic changed all the rules. At the tail end, we’ve got a couple of recommendations for the Uvaro grads who are enrolled and some additional tips for those who are looking for new roles.
I think you’ll enjoy this one looking forward to digging in. But first and foremost, welcome to Q4 2020.
A Normal Q4
When you speak to people about Q4, they often have strong opinions. Some people say “It’s the last opportunity to close your deals and win your numbers!” You speak to other people and they say, “it’s an artificial phenomenon.” It’s just because sales reps are lazy throughout the year and they need to make up for lost time.
Regardless of your position, there are some truths to what you experience in Q4, especially if your company’s fourth-quarter is also the calendar year fourth quarter. That October to December window is a bit of a double whammy if it’s your fiscal year-end and is the calendar year-end.
So normally what it’s like; typically what you see is increased pressures to hit quotas. And the reason why is that CEOs, VPs of sales, are thinking about the business in a specific way at that time of year and that translates down. For that CEO, they’re looking at the end of the number, end of year number, and they’ve seen where they’ve had hits and misses, and they’re stressed out about how can they get off of this cycle of quarterly crush time. And so they’re putting pressure on the team to try and get their deals in sooner.
For that VP of sales, they’re taking a look at it that this is their last opportunity to not just make the quarter, but also make the year. And so, because VP sales is one of the roles that turns over most, there’s a ton of pressure there. And so they’re thinking about how they hit the numbers. If you asked a VP of sales, what are the four things they’re thinking about in Q4, they would tell you to hit the number, hit the number, hit the number, and get ready to start Q1 really quickly.
And so with all of that in mind, they’re translating a lot of pressure down to the team. So what the team is seeing is requests for longer days, extra effort, new phrases like “sharpening the pencils”, “put in that extra time.”
And then on the customer side of things, you’re getting hit by holidays, vacations, festivities, Thanksgiving can be a disruption, Christmas can be a disruption. And so all of those together, I mean that Q4 is a bit of a crucible. So if you want to get through this exceptionally stressful time, there are specific tips and recommendations, we have to make that doable.
Thriving In Q4
So you’re in Q4 and you want to know how to not just survive, but also thrive! There are three key strategies to keep in mind.
1- Be Extra Prepared
You’re already setting up pre-call lists, pre-campaign lists, go that extra mile. One good technique is to actually look at your selling days and break down your activities by days. If you look at the whole quarter, you’ll actually only have about 50 good selling days, maybe 15 bad ones. So think about how many activities per day and break it down right at the beginning.
2 – Front-Load Your Efforts
You have an idea of how many selling days, they actually all happen at the beginning of the quarter. November is going to be disrupted by Thanksgiving. December will be disrupted by Christmas and New year’s planning. That means October and early November are your best chances at closing deals.
So yes, you will want to front-load your activities because you don’t have as many days. And it’s really important to remember in other situations, month-end, quarter ends, and other times of the year, there are opportunities for those Hail Mary’s because everyone is so disrupted by companies, vacations, personal family obligations, those Hail Mary’s are much less likely to work. So front-load your efforts, you’re extra prepared, you front-loaded your efforts.
3 – Follow Up Authentically
Everyone’s juggling a million balls during this time of year. Q4 can be stressful, not just for you, but for your buyer. So being extra proactive in your follow-ups. Not being annoying, but being really authentic — letting them know that you’re there to help, recognizing that they’ve got a bit of chaos in their lives too.
Part of that authenticity is being honest about your needs. If you’re close to hitting a target, if your VP or your CEO is applying more pressure on you, be honest with your prospects about what you’re experiencing. Sometimes all it takes is asking for them to help you get it over the line before the end of the quarter and it’ll help you chart that path. So extra prepared, front load your efforts, and be authentic in your follow-ups. Those are the ways to survive a Q4.
Surviving Q4 2020
However, this year is different. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. All bets are off! 2020 has been a bit of a dumpster fire. Q4 2020 is going to be more of the same. As you’re selling, there are some new rules to consider.
1 – Delays
This year — delays are way more likely! As you get into objections, that idea of “we’re not making a decision now, we’re going to punt that until next year” is a real thing. As every company is recalculating their budgets, their plans, their work from home policies. No one is going to get fired for saying let’s delay that purchase until next quarter. So that’s an objection you’re going to encounter, and you’re going to have to make those decisions pretty early on in the quarter on, do you try to overcome that objection; or do you actually let that slide into Q1 and get a headstart on your next quarters numbers?
2 – Spends Will Be Chaotic
The second thing to watch for is that budgets and spends are going to be chaotic. A lot of companies cut budgets, team members, office expenses, perks. For some of them, parts of their businesses have fluctuated. They’ve closed more deals than they expected, expenses were cut more than they expected. That means there are more pockets of money that weren’t planned for than normally occur in other years.
So that technique of chatting to multiple departments to cobble together, the whole budget is more likely to work this year than other years. So opening up that buyer circle, getting other departments involved to actually pull to that budget is a technique that will work this year more so than in others.
3 – Q1 2021 Will Be Huge
And finally planning for your Q1 is a much bigger deal this year than it has been for any previous year. Everyone’s typical planning process is up-ended. So if you’re selling something that you can tie to a planning process, you’ve got an easier opportunity to have a meaningful conversation.
So to give you one quick example, if you were selling sales technology — one of the things that we’ve seen in Q4 2020 is that prospecting has been flipped on its head. A lot of teams found that the events, the industry shows, the conferences they would go to, to generate leads, just aren’t happening as such. They have to come up with brand new ways to prospect.
So if you have a piece of sales technology, or marketing technology that can tackle that, you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to talk about Q1 planning. Getting a deal to happen now in anticipation of a Q1 acceleration is a great way to take a look at things. So yes, leveraging the Q1 plan is a unique opportunity this year specifically.
How Can Uvaro Grads Succeed?
So what can you Uvaro grads do to shine in this really difficult Q4 2020? Do what you’ve been trained to do from the start. Firstly, really focus on the remote independent skills that you have. Your leaders are going to be busy and the ability to err on the side of action is going to be a huge boon.
Number two, focus on two of the areas we focused on in the program, personalization as well as prepping your objection handling. So those objections we mentioned earlier, delaying until next year, budget’s been cut. Get ready for those pre-work your playbooks on how to handle those because you’re going to bump into them and also spend the time focusing on that personalization.
Everyone recognizes that these are unprecedented times, uncertain times. COVID this pandemic that don’t. Just trot out those same old lines, spend the time thinking about how this pandemic has impacted their business and tailor your message.
Q4 is a busy time. Those executives might only see your message once, but that personalization and that empathy will shine through in this quarter so leverage those skills and then crush your Q4 2020 quotas.
Q4 2020 For Current Uvaro Students
And what does Q4 mean to those students or recent grads who are still identifying their next opportunity. There are some really unique techniques you can leverage this quarter.
1 – Quick Wins
So number one, during Q4 2020, CEOs and VPs of sales are looking for wins that they can share with the team to keep people excited. A quick, easy way to help deliver some of that good news, I was inspired by Jake Maysonet.
Dropping a quick video message or a quick hello to the CEO or the head of sales talking about how excited you are to chat with their team or get to know them is something that’s easily forwarded to the HR group and to the rest of the team. Those little anecdotes can go a long way to bolstering their team’s sense of success. So you’re delivering a lot of value and get some extra attention during a stressful time for them.
2 – Remote Work Independence
The second thing is they are thinking deeply about remote work independence and autonomy. Lean into that message during this quarter. As you’re speaking to recruiters or speaking to HR hiring managers emphasize the fact that you’ve been working on a program that’s emphasized remote work, and remote selling independence and autonomy. Because right now in Q4 2020, every time they get a request from one of their team members or one of their customers, they’re being pulled in a million directions. So what’s top of mind is people who can be self-sufficient. So really leverage that messaging during this quarter.
3 – Leverage The Uvaro Network
The last piece is to leverage the Uvaro network, especially in Q4 where people are trying to close deals, get existing opportunities to the next stage; or over the finish line. There are opportunities for you to help amplify their message and to make introductions.
You’ve got a pool of instructors, a pool of leaders, a pool of colleagues who are also at other companies; anything that you can do to help amplify their message, or watch for opportunities that you can share with them, that’s meaningful.
To really dig into that last one, you’re all experts in social selling. It’s Q4, even if you found one person, two people on LinkedIn who are describing a pain point that your target employer solves, making an introduction, posting a message about them, sharing that with the hiring manager — great ways to help your application really stand out.
Q4 is a stressful time and if you’re solving those stresses for them, even before you get hired, you’ve definitely got the inside track!