Guess what? It is already a day from Q4, the time when your prospects are also nearing the most important time in their accounting: fiscal year end (FYE). Fiscal Year End refers to the date when a company closes off its current year of budgeting, finances, and programs and shifts into the next year-long period of operation.
While mainly used for accounting and reporting purposes, fiscal years dramatically impact how and when a company does business. These dates determine when budget is allocated, whether spending can be increased, and ultimately decides how receptive prospects will be to your pitch. Even though supplemental and discretionary funding can sometimes be provided off schedule, the fiscal year controls the bulk of any prospect's budget.
Keeping these dates in mind is critical for your sales team. Align your Q4 playbook with prospect FYE to reach higher close numbers when it matters most to you! Here are three tips that can help your team keep FYE in mind when selling in Q4.
- Research prospect FYE dates. While many companies close their financial year on December 31st, there is no requirement for the actual close of the year to also close the fiscal year. To take advantage of more popular seasons or for accounting purposes, firms will often have widely varying FYE dates that you need to be aware of. Thankfully, many resources exist for tracking this data. Publicly traded companies are obligated to share basic fiscal data with shareholders, making it easy for your sales team to identify important dates in filings. Private companies require more work, but tools such as AdDataExpress or Salesforce's Data.com resource allow your team to tap into a database of company information, including fiscal year dates. Most importantly, your team needs to track this information internally: use Salesforce's standard fiscal year or custom fiscal year fields to keep your data sanitary.
- Use budgets to your advantage. Often times, teams will head toward the end of the year with leftover budget and a strong desire to spend it. Leftover money at FYE often disappears from budgets for the following year, making it critical for teams to spend to zero. Strategically leveraging this pressure can increase closed won rates, giving teams a valuable, viable means of spending excess budgeting without simply wasting it. Rather than simply selling more aggressively in Q4, focus on companies also nearing FYE, train reps to shift tactics with these companies, and cater to their need to spend.
- Use your sales team's tribal knowledge to train reps. Aligning FYE sales tactics with your team's greater goals and techniques in Q4 can be a chaotic, ineffective process. Even excellent techniques are often forgotten - 70% of reps forget most standard training within a week. While a social learning platform like CommercialTribe is a great solution for sharing best practices and strategies, well-planned traditional training can absolutely be made more effective for Q4. Focus on actionable lessons, such as pitch scripts and email copy, give sales managers and enablers clear guidelines and strategic goals for Q4, learn how to navigate the nuances of a closing budget, and clearly demonstrate the need to understand prospect FYE. Combined, your team will be more able to cater to prospect needs at the end of the year and ultimately close more.