Four Focus Areas to Win in H2
The first half of 2015 is complete, posing a challenge and an opportunity. For those of us in sales, this is a key time to evaluate our work and make adjustments that can take our operations to the next level. As businesses prepare for the second half of the year, here are four focus areas to set your sales organization up for a stellar H2.
Hire sales reps now:
The closer to the end of a quarter you get, the less likely you’ll be able to recruit new sales reps, as the ones worth hiring have bonuses coming their way from their hard work at their current jobs. But at the turn of the month, their bonuses are paid out. Now they have a long weekend for the Fourth of July before they really put the rubber back on the road and start working towards their Q3 quota. If you’re looking to hire, especially in a competitive talent market, start the conversation in earnest now. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to drag reps away from deals at their current jobs. Additionally, the earlier in the quarter a rep begins a new job, the more time they’ll have to get their feet under them and put in the work necessary to have a good first quarter. If you have a 50-day sales cycle, hiring a new rep with 45 days left in the quarter does both you and them a disservice. And remember that while you’re out poaching new talent, other teams are doing the same. Don’t neglect your team. Make sure your best performers are recognized as such and happy where they are. It’s not worth it to spend two weeks getting a new crop of talent only to find that your best existing talent was sucked out from beneath your feet in the process.
Look for available budget:
Depending on the product or service you offer, your customers may have allocated budget separately for H1 and H2. Prospects that otherwise would have been cold to your outreach may be on the hunt for ways to solve problems your product solves. Ratchet up your prospecting efforts at the start of the month and make sure you’re getting into conversations early in the discovery process, especially if you’re prospecting into large organizations. And while at the end of Q2 you may have come up against problems with customers not having available budget to spend on you, those same customers could have a new allocation coming. If you’re lacking pipeline, July is an opportune time to reopen conversation with opportunities that appeared open to your product and saw its value, but passed based on price.
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Prepare for Sales Conversation Interruption:
The second half of the year is rife with opportunities for influencers in your conversation to go dark for days or even weeks. According to research conducted in 2014 by Ask Your Target Market, 60% of workers take vacation during the summer months, and 82% of those will be in either July or August. And the holidays at the end of the year will inevitably interrupt your conversations. You need to prepare your sales team for these challenges to ensure you close as much business as possible. You don’t want to find yourself blindsided by a key decision maker’s two-week family trip to the depths of the rainforest with no wifi. Start having your reps incorporate discussion about planned vacations once they reach the middle and latter stages of their sales process. If you can determine when a key influencer will go dark, you can use this as an excuse to loop in other people at a prospect company. This can accelerate conversations and prevent your opportunities from grinding to a halt and going cold with less than 30 days left until the end of the quarter.
Take Advantage of Conference Season:
The words ‘conference season’ elicit mixed feelings in the sales world. On one hand, conferences are a thorn in the side of sales reps, as prospects will go dark for days. Or, reps themselves will have to shift from their primarily digital work patterns and try to make a sale while meeting in-person at a trade show. But a bit of perspective and preparation can turn both of these hassles into opportunities. Impressing customers with a spectacular value proposition and deployment can make their attendance at conferences a boon to your business if you give them a nudge to promote your product to the contacts they make at the event. And attending events in-person could be just the remedy a troublesome deal needs to push it over the line. Prospects that may be apprehensive of cold-calls and emails might be easily swayed with good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation. The only way to know is to go.
The first and most important way to ensure your sales team succeeds in H2 is to be aware of what you face. The four reminders above apply throughout the sales practice, but there are many more market-specific events to be aware of. The H2 challenges that cause some sales organizations to skid and underperform can be the opportunities that make other teams excel. Take the time at the start of the quarter to prepare yourself and your team, and you’ll be one of the latter.