4 Questions CEOs and Sales Leaders Must Ask to Maximize Q4 Sales

As CEOs and sales leaders, we all want to be optimistic about the potential in the sales pipeline. But the hard truth is — the pipeline usually contains a lot of garbage that must be cleared out before better opportunities can find their way in.

One thing I have noticed about working with CEOs and founders is that they often need help understanding the true value of their current sales pipeline. After all, a deal only provides value to the business once it is actually closed.

Working in sales, it’s in our nature to be optimistic about the potential to close big deals with major accounts, even as we see leads constantly sliding from one quarter into the next. Beyond simply trusting your salespeople to provide you with an accurate reflection of pipeline potential, as a CEO or sales leader, how can you know what’s really going on?

It all comes down to what you ask. It’s up to you to ask the right questions that will accurately depict the various opportunities in the current pipeline and use this information to manage, direct, and prioritize your sales team’s efforts moving forward.

Maximize your Q4 sales by asking your salespeople these four simple questions to clear out the pipeline clutter and focus on opportunities that realistically have a chance of crossing the finish line this quarter.

Does the Prospect Understand the Gap Between Their Current Situation and Their Desired Situation?

The most successful salespeople understand that in order to close the deal, they need to be able to clearly define and articulate the problems facing your potential customer (and fully educate the customer on how your product or service will solve these issues!).

If your salesperson cannot confidently answer this question around both current and desired outcomes, it may be a red flag that the deal isn’t as close to closing as they might think. Prospects with clearly defined roadblocks who have been presented with a detailed, clear path on how your product or service can quickly remove these barriers are much more viable for closing than a client who has yet to be educated on exactly how your service will solve their problems.

By clearly defining the gap between a potential client’s current situation and their desired outcome, your sales team has the power to build a sense of urgency that can provide the extra push a client or prospect needs to sign-off on the deal.

Does the Prospect Understand the Consequences of Doing Nothing?

In other words, has your sales team clearly expressed to your potential clients and prospects the cost of staying with the status quo?

Time, efficiency, and money are all very compelling motivators. For many prospects, the cost of doing nothing will eventually come at an extremely high price. Still, it takes a talented and savvy salesperson to explain the timing and importance of taking action today versus someday in the distant future.

By asking this question, you can gauge whether your salesperson has had the right conversations with their prospects to explain the consequences and long-term costs of doing nothing (and the negative impact it will have on their business!).

Are We Getting Commitments at Each Step of the Sales Process?

QUICK FACT

A quick factoid worth considering — the average B2B sales professional spends 378% more time on opportunities that never close than those that do.

That’s a whole lot of time spent on leads that never stood a chance of providing value to your business.

Securing a commitment throughout each step of the journey is a crucial part of the sales process. It requires closing at every step and drawing factual conclusions about where exactly your prospect is in the sales process.

Your sales team works hard to get in a position where there may be a potential opportunity, but optimism always comes second to an actual commitment. Instead of hoping that a potential lead will someday turn into a qualified prospect, it’s critical to get buy-in and sign-off from key decision makers early-on and throughout every single step of the process.

By prioritizing leads who have fully committed to taking the next step with your sales team, you can start to identify and clear the pipeline of leads that aren’t truly qualified or actionable at this time.

Have You Identified How Decisions Will Be Made and Which Role Each Person Has?

Let’s go back to the basics for a minute and talk about BANT.

BUDGET

the prospect has money and will spend it for the right solution

AUTHORITY

the final decision maker is identified and all the key influencers are known

NEED

the prospect has a problem your business can solve

TIME

the date a purchasing decision will be made

While all of these elements are important, your sales team must be able to identify who in the company has the authority to make decisions. In order to move a qualified lead down the sales pipeline to closing, there needs to be a clear understanding of exactly who is involved with making decisions and providing authorization within the company’s rubric of policies for approval.

Through identifying and understanding the role each contact plays within the company, your sales team can more accurately predict potential hurdles and roadblocks within the prospect’s internal hierarchy that could delay or even derail a deal from closing.

Summary

Ideally, your salespeople will be able to answer all four questions confidently. But, if they can’t, it’s an excellent signal for you as the CEO or sales leader to step in, ask the right questions, and ensure your team has all the information they need to determine if a lead is worth moving forward.

By asking these four simple questions, you’ll get a solid sense of where each opportunity is in your sales pipeline and better understand where to focus your effort. By identifying which qualified opportunities are progressing towards a close and which ones are falling short, you can clear the unnecessary bulk out of your sales pipeline and finish Q4 with a set of fully vetted and qualified sales opportunities that will result in a great end to the year.

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