How to Finish the Year Strong While Filling Next Year’s Pipeline

filling next year's pipeline

It’s the 4th quarter, and there are 2 things on every sales leader’s mind.

1. Finishing the year strong, and…

2. Building pipeline so that their team is on track for a good 2016

In our race to finish the year strong, top of the funnel activity often gets put on the back burner while sales reps put focus and energy on the immediate task at hand – hitting this year’s number.

The key to ending this year successfully while also building pipeline for next year, requires an intentional level of effort. Too often, if left to chance, a window of opportunity is missed.

The good news is that helping the individuals on your team create this level of balance is something you can control. By chipping away at building pipeline using bite-sized actions during the end of year sprint, you can make a significant difference without stressing out your team. It’s worth the forethought, because if the sales team defaults to an “all hands on deck” effort, it may sabotage your success in the New Year.

Here are a few things you can do to be sure that next year’s pipeline doesn’t take a hit:

1. Set a “new opportunity” target, and track it each week to gauge progress, or lack thereof.

Keep your team accountable to themselves, each other, and the business by weaving a new opportunity update into each week, showing actual as compared to target. This can be shared via email, or in a team meeting or one on one. Creating this regular cadence will help maintain focus and execution. Be sure to acknowledge wins (large and small) and elevate an “on alert” attitude for weeks where no new opportunities are brewing.

2. Identify bite-sized prospecting efforts that can occur in between calls and meetings without a big time commitment.

We have all experienced it. During the most intense weeks of our sales year, it becomes difficult to find the time for prospecting activity.

By preparing quick and easy prospect touchpoints at the beginning of the week, it’s reasonable to take 5 minutes in between meetings to plant a seed by making a call or sending an email. Executing against small prospecting targets that can be accomplished quickly and without a lot of effort can maximize the time between projects and meetings, stimulating new opportunities.

For example, try introducing a “5 alive” concept by having your reps take a weekly article or web link representing a market insight, and sending a personal email to 5 high-level stakeholders. Being in the habit of continuous prospecting will not only steadily fill the pipeline, it will also help to reduce anxieties your team may have towards the end of the year and keep them moving forward at a steady pace.

3. Fish for extra budget dollars.

Leaders frequently find themselves with unused budget that will be lost at the end of the year if they haven’t invoiced against it. The best way to find out which of your clients have dollars that they need to “use or lose,” is quite simply to ask!

This action can become part of a “5 alive” push, by making a few calls each day in between meetings. Consider making this topic a leading indicator to track in late Q3 and Q4 and as a team. For example, it’s easy to commit to having 2 or 3 proactive conversations around unused budget per week. 3 conversations x 8 sales reps x 6 weeks = 144 customer touchpoints.

Not only can this strategy stir up some end of year dollars, but also new opportunities for next year.

Encouraging our reps to create balance between closing business and future pipeline in a way that scales during the busiest days and weeks of the sales year is what differentiates mid and top performance. Direction from the sales leader to keep it simple and real goes a long way.

As you finish up the 4th quarter and begin filling next year's pipeline, make sure your reps have a solid plan to hit their numbers. The Sales Territory Planning Workshop coaches salespeople on the best strategies for developing sales plans that they can implement, track, and measure for success. Your reps will come away from the 1-day program with solid, actionable prospecting checklists and a concrete plan for hitting their numbers in 2016. Learn More


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Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose is a Group Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. Lisa has passion for helping managers develop a unique, motivational sales culture in their organizations. She can drive sales managers who merely put out fires day to day to flourish as visionaries who can motivate their team and generate results for their sales organizations.

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