Last week I was sitting in a sales huddle where we were reviewing our Q4 marching orders. “This is the quarter to create and close”. “This is the quarter where magic happens!”
I have personally never been through a Q4 at my current company. My first day at Yext was March 1. Also known as the day our CEO officially banned all travel due to Covid! But I certainly have had my share of magic in my sales career. Especially in Q4. And I have to say, it really is quite incredible to finish strong and have a year where you crush your number and come out feeling like a rock star! To see all of the hard work you have put into your enterprise, your pipeline, and your sales efforts – finally culminating into exceeding your sales targets. There is no more, single, satisfying feeling, than closing out those last remaining contracts, finding new opportunities, and pulling forward a few Hail Mary deals that result in that highly coveted golden ticket, straight to President’s Club.
This year the pandemic has put a bit of a damper on sales, sales cycles, and budgets for a good part of the year. Enough so, that I was starting to question said magic. Does magic exist even during Covid? Can you have magic in a pandemic? Would this year be the exception?
But guess what? Magic is not actually magical in that supernatural sense.
Magic doesn’t just – happen. The magic of Q4 that my sales leaders were referring to, is actually a result of the “hustle” that you put into creating that magic. It’s the same magic that happens when you walk out of the house looking like you didn’t try, but you actually take an hour to curl your hair first, so that it would look just right in that bun on your head. It’s the magic that happens when your folded t-shirts fit miraculously in their designated drawer because you painfully spent the time to edit your closet the weekend prior, and made some hard decisions about the “donate” pile vs. the “keep” pile. You get my point. It’s not magic. It’s foresight. It’s planning. It’s doing the work.
So here it is. Do not confuse “the magic” with “the hustle”. I realize it’s easy to feel attracted to “magic” as a sexy and compelling alternative to actually having a plan. It sounds so enchanting. Glamorous. Magnetic.
You guys… magic is also a very comfortable place to hide. And let’s face it. Hustle is hard. It’s gritty. It’s strenuous. And it’s sometimes a lonely place to be. Magic doesn’t feel so magical when you’re sweating your a&& off pushing a boulder up the hill. But the hustle is really the only thing that gets you where you need to be. Not the wish. Not the dream. And no, not even the magic.
With that being top of mind now, I got to work on how I could create some of my own magic this week. Because let’s be honest. To close a deal by January 31st (we are a delayed fiscal) – that is currently not in my forecast (i.e. the magic), I would need to generate the opportunity soon. And to generate the opportunity soon, I would need to get the conversation started now. And to get the conversation started now… well, enough said… I would have to get started, well, yesterday!
I sat staring at my computer with no good plan in mind. Then, it came to me. The $1M pumpkin pie.
Early in my career, I was trying to break into a key target account. I had established a good relationship with the VP of Marketing (via tradeshows – I know, what’s that?! – and multiple outreaches) but she had refused my multiple attempts to a meeting – always giving me one reason or another why we couldn’t meet. At the time, once again we were up against Thanksgiving week, and I remember hearing a similar sales pep talk that referenced “Q4”, “magic”, and “the road to President’s Club”. Feeling the pressure – and a little bit of desperation – I reached back out to the VP of Marketing and made one final attempt for a meeting. This time, she admitted she was going to be working late that night and then heading right home to cook for the holiday.
In that moment, only one thing came to mind. Baked goods.
In fact, quite frequently I tend to fall back on my common courtesy and hosting etiquette and use that to compliment my sales motion. So much so, that one time my CTO even joked “you always bring baked goods to meetings.” Anyway, this VP was so appreciative, and my gesture was so memorable, that not only did we engage in a sales cycle that quarter, but during her ten year tenure at that company, she purchased various SaS solutions from me every time I moved to a different company. That pumpkin pie generated over $1M in ACV for me over the course of my career.
Now that was magic!
This week, I channeled that Thanksgiving spirit and self generated some hustle in hopes of generating some new meetings. Only time will tell whether these efforts will culminate into meetings, and whether I will generate the qualified pipeline. But I absolutely feel good about my efforts, and making sure that I take control of my business, to create the momentum required with my accounts. So with that, I got to work:
Touch 1, Day 1 – The Evite
I created an Evite. I used a Thanksgiving theme template that featured photos of pies. I invited my prospect to a zoom meeting with a designated date and time. I titled the Evite “Thanksgiving Cheer” and wrote a message letting them know I would be sending them a gift card to a company (I love!) called “Wicked Good Cupcakes” (which are absolutely delicious, individual jars of cupcakes). “Because not everybody likes pie…” was my tagline.
Touch 2, Day 2 – The Gift Card
The gift card came directly from WickedGoodCupcakes.com. They have a “Shop” tab where you can directly input an email address and the recipient will receive a gift card to redeem your choice of cupcakes. You can select from a 2-pack, 4-pack, or 6-pack, and your choice includes free shipping for the recipient too. Super easy!
Touch 3, Day 3 – The Email Follow-up
I wrote a simple email asking the prospect to look in their inbox for the gift card, coming directly from Wicked Good Cupcakes. Also asking them to check junk folders or trash folders in case the email inadvertently ended up there.
Touch 4, Day 4 – The Calendar Invite
I sent a calendar invite to my recipient to match the zoom details in the original invite. In the notes, I kindly wished them a wonderful holiday “finding time for holiday cheer amidst a crazy 2020” and hoped that we would connect for a brief 15 minutes.
Touch 5, Day 5 – The Use Case
I found a relevant case study and customer example that would resonate with my prospect. I sent a very compelling email showcasing the ROI and program results.
Touch 6, Day 6 – Show Time
So…my first meeting is a flop. I had the date and time for this meeting for 8:45am the Monday before Thanksgiving. My husband warned me Thanksgiving week would be a flop, but I insisted on an A/B test. It could go either way, I argued. Either people are OOTO or they are slow and might have some time to have a meeting. Naturally, I got up extra early, curled my hair, and sat in anticipation looking at my mirror image on zoom. “He will log in any second now!” Twenty minutes later the meeting was over and I was still smiling at my own reflection on zoom.
Touch 7, Day 6 – The Thank You
Because rejection is par for the course, and will never slow me down. I emailed my prospect to say “Sorry we didn’t have a chance to connect, but I hope you enjoy your Wicked Good Cupcakes.” What I got in return was an out of office that included TWO more names and email addresses of people on his team AND his cell phone number. While you might say the campaign failed, I would say it helped me move energy and get momentum in that account. I would also say I now have a reason to reach out again next week and keep on pushing. Not to mention that I am now personally, more invested in making traction in this account, and finding new and creative ways to break in.
The rest of my accounts in the “Thanksgiving Cheer” campaign are set to follow up in the week ahead – following the holiday break (because you were right John; most people are OOTO this week). Whether or not this campaign works, who actually knows. But isn’t the whole point to try? To do something? So you are not standing still – just waiting – for something to happen to you? To stir up enough activity and energy to get yourself excited about the pursuit?
So I have to ask myself once again…what is magic?
“Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe