Guest post by Brian Zimmerman Principal at OpenView Venture Partners.
Sales managers have long been searching for ways to encourage their team members to be more productive and efficient. In my experience working as both a head of sales and now assisting expansion stage companies for OpenView Venture Partners, I’ve found one consistent problem impeding that productivity and efficiency.
Sales teams typically limit themselves by restricting the last week of the month for closing deals, allowing very little time for anything else. While sales people should reserve time to close deals, it shouldn’t absorb a week’s worth of time that could also be spent prospecting and uncovering new business.
Here are the faults of the perception that sales teams are so wrapped up in sales cycles that they have no time to do anything else:
- How many deals could a sales person be closing during the last week of the month that would actually eat up all of their time? Each sales person may be closing a handful, but not so many that those deals eat up all of their time.
- How much real time is each sales person investing in the process of closing? If the deals aren’t in some form of procurement, they probably aren’t going to close in that one week timeframe anyway. If the deals are in the procurement process, the sales person is probably investing less than 5-10 hours of real time toward the sales cycle.
The reality is that the sales person should spend a more adequate amount of time throughout the month prospecting and building a substantial pipeline. If they do that, they might not be desperately reaching into a weak pool of potential opportunities to close at the end of the month. If a team member spends their time more efficiently, there is still time to prospect in the last week of the month.
The key is to create a culture that supports a productive final week of the month. Sales managers can do that by encouraging their team members to treat the last week of the month exactly like the first. In other words, don’t portion off the month for specific tasks or steps in the sales cycle. Instead, find a balance that can be applied every week. Sales teams should always be prospecting and building relationships, setting aside some time to procure and close deals that are ready for that step.
So, at the end of the month, sales people should focus on doing these three things:
1.) Close the deals you have forecasted to close. This is an obvious goal of any sales person, and it’s a necessary step at the end of the month. But it’s also something you should be prepared to handle along with your other normal weekly responsibilities. Closing the deal shouldn’t be the only task on your agenda.
2.) Prospect for more opportunities to add to your pipeline. A week wasted focusing solely on deals that should already be in the procurement stage means a week of not adding more sales opportunities to your pipeline. If you’re not able to close your current deals and prospect for more at the same time, then you’re not operating efficiently or productively.
3.) If you’re not doing both of those, update your resume. The hard truth is that without closing deals and continuing to fill your pipeline, you’re not going to make your quota this month and you’re failing to position yourself to make it next month. If that happens repeatedly, you’ll want to keep the resume fresh because that sales job won’t stick around for very long.
Time is a precious commodity for every sales team. With proper time management and planning, a sales person should be able to juggle numerous tasks at once. As a result, that sales person’s pipeline will always be flowing with quality opportunities and they won’t waste a week at the end of the month chasing deals that should have already been closed.
Brian is a Principal at OpenView Venture Partners responsible for delivering value-add consulting services to the investment portfolio, primarily focused on go-to-market strategies. Brian has over 10 years of sales management experience building and managing inside sales teams.