A Cure for the Q4 Blues
You’re a salesperson. You’ve just checked the wall calendar. You realize that the third quarter is officially over. A chill runs down your spine, because you know this means that you are 75% through the year and you haven’t yet come close to the track you need to be on to achieve your yearly goals.
To which I say: Great. Congratulations! You’ve now got about 12 weeks to victory. Let’s smash this sales goal of yours.
It’s easier than you think … but it requires a change of thinking. Many salespeople I work with succumb to what I call the “Q4 Blues.” They go into a kind of end of year death spiral when they realize they’re not yet where they want to be. To beat the Q4 blues, you have to follow these five steps – starting right now.
1. Reset to zero. Happy New Year! You are starting over. Treat these last couple of months as a condensed year unto itself. During this accelerated “year,” you will commit to creating a whole new mindset and a whole new set of behaviors and accountabilities. Accept that today marks a brand new way of working, one where you resolve to move outside your comfort zone on a daily basis.
2. Notice your head trash. In other words, challenge your belief system. If you notice any belief or assumption that places power and control with outside forces, rather than with you and your decisions and actions, the odds are good that you’re looking at head trash. Write down the belief in question, inspect it, notice where it falls short, and replace it with a better, empowering belief. So a belief like “I’m too far behind to hit my goal” can transform into “I add value to every client who is lucky enough to work with me, and as a result I easily attain my sales goals.” That’s a much better working assumption!
3. Set five bold, audacious, crystal-clear goals. Ideally, three should be based on your professional aspirations and two should be based on your personal aspirations. Make these goals so big that they motivate and inspire you. For instance: Exceeding your sales goal by 100% (not just meeting it) and, assuming you happen to be a piano player like me, learning twelve new pieces you can play for your friends (not just one). Get the idea? Make sure you don’t skip the personal goals. Pick goals that are specific, and that transform your emotional state in a powerful, positive way the minute you even think of attaining them. Accountability to audacious goals changes your behavior!
4. Create a new “cookbook” in support of each of your goals. How, specifically, are you going to get from point A to point B? What daily behaviors will you commit to? How do you know those activities will add up to you arriving where you want to be by December 31? How will you monitor your daily progress? Take the time up-front to answer these questions. Don’t wing it! Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that will support all five of your goals. (Example: unique conversations with decision makers supports the goal of generating X number of “yes” decisions.) If you don’t identify the KPIs, all you’ve got is a wish list.
5. Meet weekly with two people with whom you share your projected and actual behaviors, and your progress toward your goals. Pick people who will hold you accountable for taking action. Share your weekly targets, and daily actions on the KPIs. Chatting vaguely with your manager about “good calls” won’t do. Why two people? One person you can fool – but not two. Share with each of these people a weekly diary that serves as a written review of all you’ve done at the end of each week. Make sure it covers the actions taken, the obstacles you’ve encountered, and the lessons you’ve learned.
Follow these five steps, and you can work miracles. Remember: Mediocre people tend to stay with the thoughts that got them to where they are right now. Great people constantly change and challenge their thinking. “A” players don’t have any more time during the day than average and mediocre performers … but they do have a different belief system!
Over the next three months, you really can turn your year around – if you accept the challenge of changing your beliefs and undertaking a new set of daily behaviors. I’ve seen people decide to reset at zero, challenge their existing belief system, and undertake a new cookbook that reflects the reality of their goals and their true capacity – and I’ve watched them end up at 300% of where they were the previous year. If you follow the five steps I’ve shared, you can be one of them!