Every end of period (quarter, half-year, year) is a decisive moment for achieving sales reps internally and coincides with important strategic decisions for the coming quarter!
However, what are the levers and resources available to companies to accelerate their sales at the end of the period and prepare for the next?
During a webinar on the topic, Antoine Fort (CEO at Qobra), Dan Elkaïm (CEO at Topo.io) and Paul Medevielle (Regional Vice President Sales at Salesforce) shared the various sales rep performance levers they have put in place within their companies.
Following the webinar, the experts at Qobra decided to take a closer look at the topic in a dedicated article!
1. Problems encountered at the end of the period
Putting the prospect's interests ahead of your own
One of the complex tasks at the end of the period is to make prospects understand the benefits of signing before the end of the month, quarter, half-year or year.
The company's or the sales rep's interest is fairly obvious, but finding the prospect's interest is much more complex!
However, there are plenty of good reasons for the prospect to sign before the end of a period. To find them, sales reps first need to get out of their own prism and explore the topic directly with the prospect.
One of the other complex tasks at the end of the period is to manage to focus on a limited number of prospects, and what's more, the most promising ones.
Generally speaking, it is very complicated to get all the contracts in progress over a given period. The sales rep must therefore make a reasonable effort to study those that are most likely to be signed, and put all his energy into them!
The prospect's availability and priorities
One of the most common difficulties is the prospect's availability and management of priorities.
In the same way as you, he has priorities to manage, his next period to prepare, a budget to define, and so on. So there's a good chance that your joint project isn't one of their priorities. It's just a question of spotting it as early as possible so that you can focus your energy at the right moment.
2. Creating urgency with prospects
First of all, it's important to remember that urgency has to be created right from the start of the sales process - it's built up as you go along, not just at the end!
Knowing the prospect's schedule
To create urgency, as we saw earlier, you need to put yourself in the prospect's shoes. In practical terms, this means that from the very first Meetings, you need to ask the prospect when they need to implement the product or service? When do they want to use the product or service for the first time?
Depending on the product and/or service sold, this may meet a seasonal requirement.
"At Qobra, we know that many companies are changing their commission plans in the new tax year. For our sales reps, this is the perfect opportunity to tell prospects that the best way to communicate this new commission plan is to adopt a commission management platform like Qobra!"
Antoine Fort, CEO at Qobra
Next, the prospect needs to be told how long it will take to implement the proposed product and/or service, and what resources are available at that time. Finally, depending on the desired implementation date, we need to propose a possible and consistent signature date.
Fit within the prospect's budget over the given period
Every period, companies have a budget for a department, tools for sales reps, training, etc. And it's vital to know this information as early as possible so as to be able to defend a budget with the prospect. And it's vital to know this information as early as possible to be able to defend a budget to the prospect.
In this way, it is possible to help the prospect build a case internally, a sales pitch to convince the Finance Director, Sales Rep or CEO.
All sales reps need to show that they are there to simplify the decision-making process and make the prospect more confident in their decision making. After all, we mustn't forget that, generally speaking, the prospect has to sell the success and priority of the project internally!
Qualifying the prospect
It's impossible to create urgency without properly qualifying the prospect!
The prospect's urgency is never linked to the sales rep's urgency. It is always related to the prospect's problem and our ability to respond and justify a budget to management.
First of all, therefore, it is the sales rep's duty to identify a real problem, to understand the project's expectations, the expected benefits, and above all to understand what is most important to the prospect (timing, budget, quality of support, etc.).
By creating phases of active listening, it is possible to create needs or motivations in the prospect that go beyond the project itself, such as collaborating on a marketing event, putting them in touch with a company, etc.
Next, it's vital to identify your in-house ambassador, the person who will defend the project alongside you. Finally, it's also important to know the decision-making criteria, the decision-making process and the decision-makers. This is vital to avoid unpleasant surprises late in the sales process!
💡 Good practice
To be sure of keeping a coherent guideline and retaining the prospect's interest right up to the point of signing, it's important to constantly re-qualify.
Documenting the sales project
A lot happens during a sale: lots of discussions, presentations, sales aids and so on. And all with different people within the company!
However, we mustn't rely on the prospect, the champion, to make the sale for us, to collate and summarise the various documents and exchanges.
That's why it's important to gather everything together and put it in order, and then put together a summary value proposition that meets the prospect's needs and priorities. This way, the prospect, the champion, has all the weapons in his hands to defend and sell the project internally!
🛠 The practical tool
Topo.io helps sales teams better engage with their prospects by bringing together resources, stakeholders and next steps in a single space.
Setting up a mutual action plan
The mutual action plan is one of the best tools available to sales reps for creating urgency while ensuring precise monitoring of each stage.
In practical terms, the mutual action plan is a project management tool, a back-plan with the tasks to be carried out by both parties, buyer and seller, to ensure the success of the project.
A mutual action plan is constantly evolving, with new tasks being added all the time, and the aim is to be able to keep track of them and not forget any. It serves to ensure a discovery phase throughout the sales process, not just at the beginning.
To ensure that things run smoothly, at each Meetings we should take stock of our mutual action plan, look at where we are, what lies ahead, how we can help each other to accomplish our next tasks, take the next steps, what we need and who we need, and so on.
The mutual action plan is also an opportunity to liven up the downtime between Meetings. There's no need to wait until the next meeting to come up with new elements to contribute or present. It's an ideal way to keep the discussion going!
3. Motivate your teams to accelerate sales at the end of the period
The approach of the end of a month, quarter, half-year or year is a key moment. The sales rep's job is a difficult one, and the pressure to meet targets is high, so there's a strong case for creating emulation and motivation within this population.
Helping each other and sharing skills
At the end of the period, it is important to regularly bring together all or part of the sales rep organisation over a short period of time.
The aim is for everyone to take it in turns to share their priorities in terms of business, but also the difficulties they are facing.
Each member of the sales reps team will then be able to share their advice, best practice and feedback to help their counterparts accelerate their sales.
Setting up a group sales reps challenge
In addition to each sales rep's personal objective, it's a good idea to set a common objective to create a sense of collective emulation. This creates a collective dynamic, so that each sales rep is not alone in his or her battle, alone to bear the pressure and the pace.
"The collective objective is super important! You can really see the difference between teams or organisations that do it and those that don't."
Paul Medevielle, Regional Vice President Sales at Salesforce
To motivate the sales reps to achieve their common goal, and to reward them afterwards, it is essential to offer them a moment of collective celebration: weekend, restaurant, sports event, cultural event, etc.
As well as setting a common objective and selecting a collective reward if the objective is achieved, one of the steps to follow when organising a SPIFF is to incorporate gamification. The gamification aspect allows sales reps to take a step back, to detach themselves emotionally and to have some fun!
🛠 The practical tool
Qobra offers a complete module within its commission management platform for the simple organisation, management and analysis of SPIFF sales reps. With Qobra, each participant is alerted (by email, notifications, Slack) in real time to the achievement of their assigned objectives, the objectives of the various teams, and changes in the overall ranking.
Setting up a sales accelerator
In practical terms, a sales accelerator will offer sales reps a percentage of commission or an additional amount of commission if they exceed a certain threshold over a given period (quarter, half-year, year).
By the way it works, a sales accelerator encourages sales reps to bring in as many contracts as possible before the end of a period in order to earn more commission. It's a highly effective motivational and managerial lever!
"At Topo.io, we set up commission accelerators just a few weeks ago and it works like a charm! I would 100% recommend it."
Dan Elkaïm, CEO of Topo.io
4. Preparing for the next sales period
The success of a sales period depends on achieving the target, but also on creating a sufficient sales reps pipeline for the following sales period, and thus avoiding additional pressure.
Preparing for a sales rep is done well before it starts! And there are a number of best practices for preparing it in the best possible conditions.
Create a sales rep SPIFF challenge
Very often, each sales rep organisation has a team of SDRs or BDRs and a team of Account Executives. As their names suggest, the SDR or BDR team focuses on creating a sales rep pipeline, while the other focuses on signing contracts.
However, this way of working is generally not enough. So, to create a substantial sales pipeline, a good practice is to set up a sales rep SPIFF involving all the sales teams!
"In November, to encourage everyone to create a pipeline and not start the year with nothing, we set up a 1-month SPIFF sales rep with a target of making 50% more Meetings than the initial target. The sales reps challenge worked very well, as we reached our target, and we now have a large enough pipeline to meet our objectives for the following period."
Antoine Fort, CEO at Qobra
Clean up your sales reps pipeline before the start of each period
One of the key actions sales reps can take to anticipate their next sales period is to clean up their sales pipeline.
Cleaning up your sales rep pipeline means carefully sorting out prospects and keeping only those with a strong chance of becoming customers over the next sales period.
"Not sorting your prospects is a bad practice that turns into a nasty surprise! Some sales reps arrive at the start of the quarter with a full sales pipeline, but just 3 weeks later there's nothing left. Why is this? Because they didn't qualify or requalify their prospects at the start of the period!"
Paul Medevielle, Regional Vice President Sales at Salesforce
The last word…
Managing sales reps at the end of the sales period requires a strategic and proactive approach. The obstacles encountered, such as the need to put the prospect's interest first, prioritising prospects, managing the prospect's availability and priorities, and creating urgency, all require in-depth understanding and well thought-out tactics!
The article highlights the importance of properly qualifying the prospect, documenting the sales project, and putting in place a mutual action plan to ensure accurate follow-up at every stage. The use of practical tools such as Topo.io is recommended to optimise engagement with prospects.
Emulation within the sales teams at the end of the period is highlighted as a key element, with practical suggestions such as helping each other, sharing skills, setting up collective sales SPIFFs, and integrating sales accelerators to motivate sales reps. Once again, the use of a platform specialising in the topic, such as Qobra, is highly recommended to ensure success!