When Quarter 4 starts for organizations, their activities within this Quarter are a clear indicator of their focus. There are 3 types of companies that I can see:
- Short term focus: These are the companies that are focusing most of their time and efforts on Q4 deals, and their closure – in many cases, I see commercial discounting as a substitute for poor selling. There is so much commercial emasculation that I sense exultation from customers who benefit from these short-term companies. These are mostly companies with a legacy installed base, traversing the chasm to a new normal of elevated customer expectations.
Leaders within these companies need to balance between the polarities of short-term survival and medium-term achievement. From my experience, several Q4 deals can grow to 2x or 3x of their current size, if only we had the patience to build the value and the momentum. In addition, leaders need to assess the cut-over date from “Q4 hope” to “Q1 planning”. Mid-November is normally a good time to make the transition so that their business does not fall off a cliff at the end of December.
2. Medium Term focus: These are the companies that believe in Q0 planning – they are significantly investing in their strategic customers to design a plan for engagement and growth for the next fiscal and beyond. I am seeing several “new economy” companies that have enjoyed buoyant growth, investing in these planning exercises.
Leaders within these companies need to assess the quality of their managers in their ability to coach their teams to a higher level of performance. Planning for the near term is also an opportunity to establish the metrics and measures of “Standards of Performance,” which blueprint could be used for performance management and coaching. The other opportunity for leaders here, is to focus on virtual team orchestration, to drive alignment and accountability across the ecosystem.
3. Long Term Focus: These are the companies that have the courage to helicopter and gain perspective on their market and its opportunities. Rather than get caught in the weeds of day-to-day reporting and management, they tend to take a broader look at their market orientation and their culture of customer centricity.
Leaders within these companies use a multi perspective model to balance between customer insight and foresight, competition insight and foresight as well as strategic alignment and cross group collaboration within their teams. In several companies, this is a great opportunity to replace the leaders who rely on the past, with the leaders who showcase the agility to change, and demonstrate potential for the future.
Some of you reading this post may say that you have all the above activities in play this quarter – my encouragement for you would be to consider the simplification, synthesis, and sequencing of these activities, that would provide you the maximum return on your time invested.
These insights have been synthesized based on works with many world class sales organizations. I would be happy to hear your stories on how your organization’s focus shifts in Q4. Let others benefit from the collective good.