When it comes to making quota there are a number of critical success factors, but the most critical and often undervalued is time. Time is without a doubt one of the most critical and important elements to making quota. The more time we have, the higher the probability we make quota. The less time, the lower the chances we have. Time is our best friend.
Don’t believe me?
Then ask yourself this question, how do you feel the last day of the quarter when you still haven’t made quota vs how you feel the first day of the quarter when you have 90 days to make your number– Exactly! The more time you have to work your pipeline, address challenges, get over objections and most importantly prospect for new business, the higher the chances of making your number and this is why it just might be in your best interest to miss Q3 quota and focus on Q4.
Yup, I know blasphemous, but you’ll get over it.
Here’s how it works. If you’re struggling to make Q3, the odds are you probably have a weak Q4 pipeline as well. Which means, if you put all your effort, blood sweat and tears into Q3, even if you make it, you will wakeup day one of Q4 with a tiny pipeline and a very low probability of making your number for the year and worse yet the quarter. I see this happen far too often. Companies, managers and sales people trade the present quarter for subsequent quarters or even worse the year. They get overly wrapped up in making the quarterly number that they make a grave mistake. They stop using time to their advantage and start using it against themselves, unwittingly. They don’t use the time they have in Q3 to set themselves up for Q4 and when Q4 arrives, they are working against the clock.
Here’s how it breaks down. Say you have a 1.5x pipeline* for Q3 and a .7X pipeline for Q4. In order to make quota in Q3 you have to close 66% of your pipeline. That then leaves the .5 to carry over to Q4. You then go into Q4 with 1.2X quota, making it almost impossible to make Q4 and possibly the year, not the ideal scenario.
Now, consider flipping the script. Rather than doing everything you can do to scrape quota out of a 1.5x pipeline, consider scraping 75% of quota out of your 1.5X pipeline for Q3 and spending more time on growing your Q4 pipeline through prospecting. If you can grow your Q4 pipeline by 50% through more prospecting in Q3, AND you push the remaining 1/2 of your pipeline into Q4, your new pipeline would be 1.8 times quota, needing only 125%. In this scenario you have more time AND pipeline to make your Q4 and yearly numbers.
When more time and pipeline are at your disposal, probability of making quota increases. I’m a huge fan of drive, grit and winning at all costs. But sometimes, blind grit and drive only hurt you. Sometimes picking up your head and looking at the big picture is the smart choice. Too often we viciously drive sales teams to make their number for the quarter. There can be a cost of this myopic thinking. That cost is future quarters and even yearly quotas.
Take the time to step back and evaluate where you are. Is you’re pipeline big enough to make Q3 AND Q4? Do you need to sacrifice a bit of Q3 to make sure you can make Q4 too? Are you using time to your benefit, or are you squandering it in futile effort to make the current quarter. Time is critical to making the number. When it’s squandered or mismanaged quota is in jeopardy. Don’t jeopardize your future because you’re too focused on the now. You’re paid to make your yearly number and if that means you have to sacrifice part of Q3 to do it, then so be it.
Getting to quota is more than just working hard, driving your team and being maniacal, sometimes it’s about being smart, smart enough to see what’s really happening, not what you want to happen.
Let go of Q3, it just might be what you need to make Q4 AND your year!
* 1.5x pipeline represents a pipeline that is 150% of quota. Ex: If you’re quota is 100,000 for Q3, a 1.5x pipeline would represent 150,000 in deals. Depending on your closing percentage, a 1.5x pipeline could be big or small. Traditionally however, 1.5 is too small to make your number. Not many sales organizations have a closing percentage of 66%.