By Amin Akbarpour
As we start the month of November, most of us start to get into holiday mode. Whether that means you’re making personal plans to see family and friends or dealing with the changes the holidays bring to your work schedule, everything gets flipped upside down during these next two months.
For most companies, Q4 is also the quarter where budgets are finalized for the following year. This makes it a critical quarter from a renewal and up-sell perspective. I’ve worked in a few different industries and have noticed that it is consistently difficult to get people’s attention this time of year. So, how do you combat this to ensure that you close the year out strong?
Learn Their Schedule
Is the holiday season absolute mayhem for some of your customers? Or is it the time of year when they take most of their vacation days? It’s important to understand how this season impacts your clients. Not just from an overall business perspective, but also in terms of their day-to-day goals. It’s going to be challenging to get all the right people in the room if you don’t know when they’ll be around and what their priorities will be.
Takeaway - Ask the right questions to understand what this time of year means for the power users, champions, and key decision makers. Don’t forget about Finance and/or Legal and make sure their approval processes are taken into consideration and included in your timeline. Speaking of time…
I like to start connecting with clients about renewal conversations earlier rather than later, mostly because I’ve been blindsided by long vacations one too many times. How early depends on the type of deals and clients, but I typically like to bring this up in October. It’s still early enough that they aren’t engulfed with holiday tasks, but not so early that they don’t know what’s going to be on their plate over the next few months.
Takeaway - Set up the calls and meetings on the calendar ahead of time. Plan out an itinerary for those sessions so you and the client can be on the same page about what will be discussed, what you’re hoping to provide, and what you’d like to come away with. It’s a tough sell to book time during a busy quarter without a clear agenda and goals.
You can do everything right: You can show the value you’ve brought to your client’s business over the past term and put together a great deal for them, but the quarter could still come and go with no deal signed. If there’s no sense of urgency on the client’s end, then the likelihood of something getting done before the next year is minimal. However, if you come in early and often, stay consistent with your message, and hit deadlines with your deliverables, then you’ll drastically increase your chances of getting something done before December 31.
Takeaway - Quantify your impact with metrics that your client cares about. If what you’re bringing to the table is significant, then it makes it that much easier to have your clients respond with a sense of urgency to your deadlines and requests. In addition, be transparent and direct. If you’re providing an offer that doesn’t extend past the quarter, be clear and upfront about that. Finally, don’t threaten or bully in hopes of getting things done. You’re trying to help the client understand the goals and the timelines that are required to help them achieve their goals.
Make the holiday season yours this time. Bank on the great relationships you’ve built, the value you’ve brought to the table, and the due diligence and planning you’ve done throughout the year. If you continue to stay detail oriented, plan accordingly, and keep a consistent level of urgency, you’ll be able to cap it all off with a real end of the year celebration.
The Success League is a consulting firm that works with customer success leaders who want to unlock the retention and revenue potential in their team. Unlike approaches that focus on soft skills, we partner with success teams to gather and present customer data in a way that allows them to advocate for customer needs and drive true change in their organization. www.TheSuccessLeague.io
Amin Akbarpour - Amin is a customer success coach and architect. With relationship-building at the core of his practice, he molds teams by instilling the necessary principles to transform them into trusted advisors. Understanding what's needed for organizational change, he translates theory and ideology into practice and habit. Originally from Southern California, Amin is a University of San Francisco alum who is grateful to still be able to call San Francisco his home.