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March 19, 2003  

Sales & Sales Management Newsletter
For Better Results, Goals & Success

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End-of-the-Quarter "Scramble"
by Ted Gulas

Billy Bob was feeling end-of-the-quarter pressure from the Sales Manager and CEO of Mammoth Outlay Company. Janice, a very competent sales manager, had become very vocal about making first quarter's numbers. Ratcheting up the pressure, Janice "reminded" Billy Bob of his duty, "to make sure those first quarter numbers came in - no matter what." After all he did not want to embarrass the company and feel the wrath of upper management breathing down his neck.

So Billy Bob did what all-good sales people do, he found some stand-by clients that would always buy from him - provided he would lower the price. He was well aware of the fact that nearly 60% of Mammoth Outlay Company's deals were closed in the last 10 days of the quarter.

Mammoth Outlay Company clearly has an issue with their selling system. The selling system shortfall specifically has to do with discovery, motivation, and qualifying skills. This manifests itself in a myriad of ways including but not limited to, deteriorating margins, reduced commissions and bonuses, attitude problems within the sales force, turnover and negative perceptions within the customer/prospect base.

The ability to qualify prospects thoroughly is one of the most important skills salespeople can possess. A key part of the qualifying process is to determine when the prospect needs to implement a solution and why it is important to implement a solution at that time. Without that information the sales cycle can, and often will go on forever. Finding this sense of urgency is a function of the Discovery and Motivation Step in the Sales Pyramid.

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To avoid a long, drawn-out, sales cycle, there must be real motivation to move forward quickly. You need 3 to 5 good questions to determine motivation. If you don't know the best 5 questions, you may brush-up on them here. If the prospect cannot give reasons why the deal should not be done very quickly, he or she is probably not a very good prospect. If you ask the right questions you can get the prospect to convince you that it is important to find a solution now. And if you have asked the right questions and answers indicate that there is no sense of urgency, you'll want to find another prospect to help you make your end-of-the-quarter quota.


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