The pressure is on and management is breathing down it's employees necks to finish the year hitting or beating their sales numbers for the year.
Why is it that management often believes that the constant fourth quarter push year in and year out is an effective way to reach their sales goals? There are three principles involved here that are having an impact on the success of this philosophy or approach.
Number one. You get the behavior you reward. Your sales team has had nine months to stay on track. If for some reasons either internal (policies, procedures, new product development or the lack of it) or external (competition or the economy) your organization is behind its sales objectives for the year, rather than fostering the stress-filled last quarter push syndrome year after year, why not take a closer look at what has been going on for the past nine months.
If you have not held people accountable for nine months why are you expecting them to cave into your pressure for the last quarter? Consider;
1.Are your sales objectives realistic or some pie in the sky number that no one really believes is possible. That your approach is to create an unrealistic objective and hope that people will achieve it.
2.Are your salespeople sloughing for nine months knowing that every year at the end of the year you will offer your prospects special incentives to buy, therefore making it easier for your sales team to achieve their numbers during the last quarter?
3.Is your management style such that you enjoy the pressure and like the rush of this push for three months?
Number two. If you are not familiar with the Pygmalion effect here is a short description. People perform according to your expectations of them. If they know that every year there is going to be this fourth quarter push you may be indirectly contributing to their more cavalier attitudes for the first three quarters. Number three. If every year you have this fourth quarter push, people are going to tend to want to relax for the first few weeks of the new year to catch their breath and to recover. The problem with this approach is that the beginning of each new year should be to get off to a fast start. It's called the quick start concept. It implies that the pace of the rest of the year may be established during the first few weeks of the new year. If your people are playing catch up with follow-up actions and administrative stuff during this period they may not get into full selling gear until late in January or even February.
Thus the cycle begins again. To break this cycle why not consider a different paradigm - that each month is a calendar year on its own. In other words any short-fall in each month can't be made up later in the year. This is more an attitude than a policy. But if you foster this mindset in your employees you may be able to spread your total sales out more evenly each year therefore avoiding this end of year push.
Keep in mind that the last 45 days of the year is one of the most stressful periods for most people due to the holidays. If you add to this stress with this end of year push you are only complicating people's lives making it even more difficult for them to perform effectively.
Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management, leadership and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; Soft Sell, That's Life, Peace Of Mind, 91 Challenges Managers Face Today and Your First Year In Sales. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 704-895-1230 or visit his website at www.timconnor.com.