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Is it Q4 or 4Q?

I am getting all sorts of SOS calls and e-mails asking advice for what to do in Q4. My answer is simple: the same thing you should have been doing in Q1, Q2, and Q3.

Calendar years are broken into three-month quarters predominantly for the pleasure of people who run companies. It puts additional pressure on salespeople to perform every 90 days and to speed up sales cycles to close business. The fourth quarter is especially pressured because of shortfalls in the first three quarters that must be made up.

It’s a reality of business that keeps the heat on sales departments and sales managers to keep the pressure off of leadership, shareholders and other financial profit-pushers.

I’m concerned with all companies making as many sales as they possibly can without regard to what day it is, what month it is, or what quarter it is. I believe the more you understand what creates this pressure, the easier it will be for you as a professional salesperson to both avoid it and conquer it.

The grim reality is that you are ultimately responsible for sales productivity, sales numbers and sales profitability, no matter what date it is.

Keep this in mind: There are no easy answers. The ideas I’m about to present to you will help you with all four quarters, but they all require work on your part. Hard work. Very hard work. The result will be success. Big success. Very big success.

I’m recommending that you reverse Q4 to 4Q.

Rather than worry about what day it is or what month it is, why don’t you focus on the responsibilities and the strategies that will make every quarter a successful quarter? 4Qs are four questions attached to four strategies that will help you achieve more than quota and more than goal.

1. Where is your pipeline?

2. Where is your work ethic?

3. Where is your attitude?

4. Where is your responsibility?

Those are the questions.

Here are the answers and the strategies:

1. Your pipeline of expected or potential business has to be at least double your goal. Most salespeople and sales managers fail to measure the value, the dollar value, of their sales pipeline of potential business. If your sales quota or your goal is $100,000 in a quarter, then your pipeline must be at least $200,000. That would indicate a closing rate of 50 percent. The reality of sales would be 30 percent closing rate. So three times sales goal versus sales pipeline would be a better rule. What is the total value of potential business in your pipeline?

2. In these times, the best ethic you can have is a great work ethic. Start an hour earlier and stay an hour later. That’s the work ethic that will produce results, if you employ the breakfast/lunch rule. Have breakfast every day with an existing customer or potential customer who can give you business. If you do business on the phone, have breakfast delivered to your customer at his or her desk and Skype the call. Then do the same with lunch. Ten relaxed meal appointments a week will net sales and not interrupt one minute of work time for either of you. How much extra effort are you willing to put in?

3. Pressure can get to your attitude, especially if it’s accompanied with zero help or support. Such is life in sales. Now is the time to put on your game-day attitude. It starts early in the morning. Just read about your attitude or listen to inspirational attitude messages every day. My “Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude” is a good start, but there are many others. What are you doing every day to keep your attitude at “yes” level?

4. In tough times and high-pressure times, it’s easy to blame everyone but yourself. Resist the temptation. Rather, take responsibility for people not returning your call, taking the lowest bid, canceling appointments and other easy-blame opportunities. Take responsibility for what happens, learn from it, figure out a better way and make sure it only happens once. How many opportunities have you missed to convert blame to responsibility?

4.5 idea: Take a senior executive with you on a sales call and let him or her see what the real pressure is. Let an executive see what it’s like to be in the fire, instead of in their office. Do you have the guts to ask a senior executive to join you on a sales call?

If you attack Q4 with my 4Q strategy, you will be screaming, “I did it!”

And you will have your boss asking how you did it.

If you’d like a list of my recommended reading and listening, go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time visitor, and enter “sales pills” in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of “The Sales Bible” and “The Little Red Book of Selling.” President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs sales meetings and conducts Internet training on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com.

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