4th Quarter Is for Prospecting and Selling

Kevin Trokey on August 17, 2020

Said no benefits producer ever!!

It’s okay to hate the message, but that’s no reason to hate the messenger. 😏

Have you looked at the calendar lately? If so, you know it’s “4th Quarter Eve.” Many of you are well into 4th quarter activities already. It’s always been a crazy time of year, but we all know, for obvious and maybe not-so-obvious reasons, 4th quarter 2020 promises to bring a whole new flavor of crazy.

It’s not all bad news

I know a few of you are starting to have the occasional in-person meetings again, but I am very doubtful you will be doing many, if any, in-person enrollment meetings. I realize this brings new technology, preparation, and presentation challenges, but at least you’ve had several months to practice your Zoom skills.

The good news is all the time you will save traveling back and forth between meetings. That, and you can still get away without wearing real pants!!

You gotta prepare

We host several Q4iNetwork-wide video discussions with our member agencies each month. These discussions are for the collective group to share ideas and ask questions of one another. A recent session focused specifically on the preparation of 4th quarter.

While most of the conversation centered around the obvious preparation issues, I was thrilled to see how much preparation the network is putting into prospecting and marketing during 4th quarter. My challenge to you is to do the same.

Brighter days ahead

You may forget it at times, but there is life after 4th quarter. And aren’t we ALL ready for life after 2020??!! 🙄

A successful 2021 starts right NOW. It’s bad enough that, for too many, new business production comes to a halt during 4th quarter. However, it is inexcusable to allow non-production to extend into next year.

I have witnessed it way too often. Already anemic pipelines completely dry up during 4th quarter. Too many producers get to the start line of their next production year with, sometimes literally, no active prospects.

A 6-month sales year isn’t enough

If you are one of those producers who find yourself making the same resolution every New Year’s Day, “Tomorrow I start prospecting again,” you are setting yourself up for a way-less-than-your-potential new business year.

By the time you fill the pipeline up again and add in the time it takes to move a prospect through your sales process, you can’t reasonably expect to start writing new business until the start of the 2nd quarter. And then your 2021 will have at least one thing in common with 2020 (again, don’t hate on the messenger): another 4th quarter of non-production. This leaves you with six months of productive sales time.

It doesn’t have to be this way

I understand the craziness of the season. I know how many legitimate demands you are going to have on your time. I’ve also heard all the whiny excuses as to why you can’t prospect, especially during 4th quarter.

  • “I’m just TOO busy; I literally have no time to prospect/sell.” (Quite often overheard on the golf course.)
  • “Employers aren’t willing to talk this time of year.” (It’s because their schedule is filled meeting with your competitors.)
  • “You do remember we’re in the middle of a pandemic, don’t you? I would LOVE to be out there prospecting/selling, but I just don’t want to come across as tone-deaf and insensitive.” (That’s the reason, cowboy?)
  • “I haven’t seen my real pants in months and, even if I find them, I’m going to have to take them to the tailor to be let out.” (Okay, I get this one.)
  • And, my favorite reason to not prospect/sell. “But it’s just SOOO hard.” (Finally, an honest reason.)

Okay, I’m having a little fun with you. Selling is a difficult and scary job (which is why you get paid so well for doing it). And prospecting is the scariest and most difficult part of that difficult and scary job (which is why salespeople are willing to pay even braver people to generate leads for them).

It’s time to walk over to the mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and say, “Self, I call ‘bullshit’ on your excuse-making.”

Let’s be real

It is beyond fair to agree you will have less time to prospect and sell during 4th quarter than any other time of year. Realize what this means, though. It means you have to be more intentional and protective of the hours you do have available to sell. And they are there. Yes, really!

Right now, your 4th quarter calendar is reasonably open. Make a commitment to yourself as to how many prospecting/selling hours you need to protect each week for the remainder of the year. Open up your calendar and schedule out those hours up to when your office closes on New Year’s Eve.

Gym memberships don’t do anything unless you show up

Putting those hours on the calendar is a great start, but now you have to protect them. This will be the truest test of your discipline.

DO NOT SCHEDULE OVER THE HOURS YOU JUST COMMITTED TO YOURSELF.

Yes, there will be times when a client asks to meet at one of these times. However, they will understand when you tell them you are committed at that time, but you have three other similar times to offer.

If this sounds like a helpful idea for you, don’t wait to start the habit. The sooner you get started with this idea, the faster it becomes a habit, and the less likely you are to allow yourself to be derailed. This week is the perfect time to start.

Well, the first week of your career would have been perfect, but this week is the best option for you at this point.

A bonus thought and a bonus warning

First, the thought. You do great things for your clients all year long, and you are going to be doing even more great things during the upcoming renewal season. Don’t assume your clients remember and recognize your efforts. Make a stewardship report and a transparent compensation conversation a cornerstone of your upcoming discussions.

Now, the warning. Employers are struggling with disruption anxiety because of what the pandemic has brought to their business. The last thing most of them want is an additional disruption to throw at their employees.

Be sensitive to this fact as you bring them new ideas. Ideas that seem exciting and obvious to you are going to be met with resistance as soon as the employer sees the inevitable disruption it would mean for their weary employees. I’m not saying not to bring these ideas to the table; I’m merely saying be extra empathetic to the anxiety level of your audience.

A bonus-bonus warning. If you need one last motivation to keep your pipeline filled, realize how much your normal retention levels could be at risk.

Many of us have a false sense of security from having had a limited financial impact on our businesses during the shut-down. If this happens again (pray to whomever you pray that it doesn’t), there very well may be a significantly greater impact on your clients' businesses. You must prepare to lose clients simply because they are out of business. I’m just being realistic.

And, if that never happens, we can all put on our party masks and have a virtual celebration. As if that’s been iced tea in your glass all along. 😏

Photo by xtock.

Topics: Selling + Process, Leadership + Management