Why Q1 is Off to a Slow Start: Fewer Next Steps Discussed in December

January 24, 2019

Shawn Parrotte

Companies often wonder why their quarters and years are off to a slow start. The usual hypotheses are that everyone needs a breather or that reps are taking it easy. But anyone who has been in sales, knows that’s not necessarily true across the board. So why do our revenue trends often look like this?

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Nowhere is this trend more pronounced than in January. It’s the beginning of a financial year and quarter (in many cases) and a new calendar year. Most sales teams would want to begin strong, but what’s different in January, that prevents us from doing so?

It’s Not Your January, it’s Your December #

We looked at over 500K sales conversations in December and January to identify what reps were doing differently in these months. We noticed an interesting trend - reps were discussing far fewer next steps in their December meetings than in other months. Also they scheduled fewer follow up meetings than they would in other months. You may experience similar drops around other holidays in the summer and July 4th weekend. We want to ensure you understand the impact for these drops and how you can avert them.

How Chorus Surfaced This Data #

Chorus’ out of box trackers and Smart Themes can identify many different parts of your conversations. As you speak on your meeting, Chorus is busy transcribing what you say into written text.

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From this script, Chorus’ advanced AI identifies things like Competitive Mentions, Rep Questions, Prospect Questions, Budget, Later Stage Triggers, etc.

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These themes and trackers can be used to jump to relevant parts of the conversation, reviewing a meeting for process compliance, etc. The “Next Steps” tracker identifies phrases like “I’ll send” or “circle back” to show you how reps are defining a clear roadmap at each stage of the sales cycle. Similarly the “Scheduling” tracker shows you whether or not reps firmed up the time to meet next with the prospect.

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Reps Discuss Fewer Next Steps in December #

Chorus Science data showed us that sales reps discussed much fewer next steps in December. Next step mentions in December were 8% lower than other months and 10% lower for week three i.e. the week before Christmas.

Everyone’s excited about the holidays, planning long trips through the new year and not planning to be in office till early January. As a result, people may not be focused on next steps. But if you ever studied or implemented sales processes like BANT, you know that establishing timeline and next steps are very important — even before the holidays.

Chorus’ triggers for scheduling got fired even less in December. The average for December was about 20% lower than other months and for the third week, 28% lower.

How Does This Affect Your January? #

If reps discuss fewer next steps and timelines in December, there are two immediate results:

  • If scheduling drops in December, reps will have fewer meetings in January which will affect their February pipeline and add unnecessary pressure on March.
  • If next steps are not discussed in December, prospects will likely forget all about it by January. After the big holiday season Hawaii trip, they may forget how excited they were about your product. You will have to get started again in January and this will delay your sales cycle in Q1.

So what should you do? #

When it comes to December 2019 or any other major holidays (e.g. 4th of July, summer vacations, Thanksgiving), sales managers and leaders need to ensure reps keep up with discussing clear next steps.

Also, look out for deals with low next steps and scheduling in December 2018 to get them back on track right away. Enforce scheduling follow up meetings in January, so that you can pick up exactly where you left off. Know when your prospect is back from vacation and send them a summary of your last conversation. Include recorded moments from your last conversation in the email, so the prospect can hear the things they said in December and the next steps you had discussed.

Holidays are a great time to pause, take a breather, and reflect. But with the right kind of approach adopted in the weeks leading into the holidays, your deals and pipeline needn’t suffer when you are back in office. Hit the ground running with deals that are warm, thanks to your effective pre-holiday approach!

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