Failure to make the first month of a new year (whether that’s January or your fiscal year starting month) means the first quarter is at high risk. Fail to make Q1 and Q2 is at a greater risk. Fail to make the half and you may as well start looking for a job because you’re on track to lose the year.
Making the January forecast gives you a better-than-even chance for making the Q1 forecast because momentum is in your favor. No, January isn’t the time to rest, have a national sales meeting, or take a long-deserved vacation. It’s the time to make your numbers and have some chance of making the year.
With momentum from a successful Q1 in your favor, Q2 becomes easier and doubly as important before the summer slump takes hold.
Why it Matters
“January isn’t the time to rest, have a national sales meeting, or take a long-deserved vacation. It’s the time to make your numbers and have some chance of making the year. “
And then there is Q3: The Summer Doldrums
While Marketing should have been helping build your momentum by increasing demand, the summer months are when Marketing can really shine. Yes, 25-40% of the country has disappeared and isn’t taking calls, but this is when Marketing should spend more on lead generation to dig out qualified leads Sales needs to make Q3. If Marketing takes the summer off, by not making a larger effort to offset the slow season, the marketing manager should also be looking for a job because he or she obviously doesn’t understand their responsibilities.
The increase in qualified leads for Q3 must start in Q2 and through the summer to setup Q4. Find enough MQLs and salespeople will make Q3. And Q3 is the turning point for most companies. If you make forecast by the end of Q3, the year is baked and delivered. It would take an act of God for you to fail.
If Q3 is slow because of the summer season (or Marketing’s failure), the setup for Q4 sales can be deadly. It’s all about momentum, momentum, and momentum. It’s almost impossible to make up for a sloppy Q1 and a slowdown in Q3 and still have a successful year. Q4 is often the largest quarter of the year but is often driven by desperation; in most instances it isn’t enough to save the forecast.
At this point you’re thinking to yourself (yes, it’s all about you): Gee, January is either looking good for me or not so good,(maybe we shouldn’t have pulled everyone out of the field for that one-week sales meeting.
Take your lumps if January is poor and redouble your efforts in February and March. Ask Marketing to build the pipeline because you might recover if you don’t believe everything your salespeople tell you about delayed decisions, unqualified leads, snowstorms, and competitors. At this point Marketing’s also behind the curve, but it can create enough qualified leads if it has enough money. Marketing is more agile in creating immediate demand if allowed to spend the money.
If you are on track in January, manage the pipeline, hug it, and love it to be sure that the momentum continues to build. A couple more thoughts:
- Your CRM system is your next-to-best friend. It doesn’t lie. Salespeople tell you what you want to hear; the CRM reports reality whether you like it or not. It tells you what happened in the past and forecasts the future; unless someone is lying to you about his or her territory. Lying is a firing offense.
- Your marketing people are your best friends because they can deliver you from failure with qualified leads. Demand it from them, make sure they’re funded, and they can do it.
You still have two weeks to make the January forecast. Get back to work.
Part 2 will be published on January 15: What You Sell Today Started with Marketing Six Months Ago.