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Nov 23, 2022

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Stop renewals and upsells from dragging out through the holidays with four simple steps

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This is a guest article by Stephanie Neale, CEO, Blind Zebra, a sales and client success training company for B2B pros.

The holiday season is filled with indulgent food, joyful family time, and cheerful decorations. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Except when it comes to customer engagement.

There are five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. During this time, it’s common for CSMs to run into the “holiday excuse.” Customers use the inevitable chaos of the holiday season as grounds to dodge meetings and put off signing contracts. They say, “Call me in the new year, and I’ll get the contract signed.”

What happens then is that the “holiday excuse” becomes the “new year excuse.” Suddenly, the refrain is that they’re behind from the holidays and can’t commit until February. Just like that, you’ve wasted two full months chasing.

To avoid hounding your customers for renewals and upsells during the holiday season, try using Blind Zebra’s Q4 deal accelerator. This simple tool will give you extreme clarity on your open renewal and upsell opportunities and, in turn, allow your customers (and you) to enjoy the holiday season!

Here’s the four-step process to accelerate your deals.

Step 1: Pick your YED-D

YED-D stands for “year-end decision date.” Your YED-D is a date chosen by you (or your manager) at which point all deals have either been closed-won, closed-lost, or scheduled to revisit in January.

The key here: the YED-D is not December 31. Most people when left alone will default to using the 31st.  Picking an earlier date creates a greater sense of urgency and eliminates you chasing your customer in the days between Christmas and New Year’s.

We recommend choosing the Friday before the week of Christmas. Our reasoning is that not much deal movement tends to happen the week of Christmas. Lots of people are out of the office, and those who are working are likely vacationing at their desks.

This comes down to efficiency. Having a definitive date to decide by makes the renewal process expedient for both you and your customer.

Step 2: Rate your open renewal and upsell opportunities for timing

Once you’ve chosen your YED-D, the next step in the Q4 deal accelerator is to conduct an opportunity audit. This is an audit solely for the timing of the opportunity. You are ranking your opportunities based on their likelihood to make a yes or no decision by your YED-D.

Here is the ranking system to use for the Q4 deal accelerator:

Blind Zebra Q4 deal accelerator: Green = 85% probability of Yes/No decision by YED-D Yellow+ = 55% - 84% probability of Yes/No decision by YED-D Yellow- = 25% - 54% probability of Yes/No decision by YED-D Red = Less than 25% probability of Yes/No decision by YED-D

It’s important to understand that this rating has nothing to do with the quality of the opportunity. You could have a massive upsell opportunity with your top client, but they have told you that they can’t make a decision until mid-January. That opportunity would be categorized as red for timing.

Another key thing to understand is that you are rating opportunities based on the likelihood of reaching an outcome by your YED-D. Notice, we didn’t say a positive outcome. Green deals aren’t just those that we think will say “yes” by the YED-D, but also those we think may tell us “no.”

Step 3: Complete the priority grid

Now, you’ve categorized your open renewal and upsell opportunities, and filled in a brightly colored Excel spreadsheet. Here’s where you take all that work and put it into action.

It’s human nature to start with the easiest task. That’s why most people’s default is to start working on their green opportunities. These are the opportunities that are already moving along on their own and are likely to get to a “yes” or “no” by the YED-D.

The problem with starting with the greens is that it allows your “yellow+” and “yellow-” deals to slip between the cracks. That’s why you start by working your yellow deals. These deals will undoubtedly require more energy and work than your green deals. You’ll likely have to follow up more frequently, chase meetings, and send reminders to sign the contract.

By prioritizing your energy on your yellow deals, you will close more of these opportunities than if you’d started with your greens. And it’s likely that while you were putting in the work on the yellows, the greens took care of themselves.

Step 4: Work to clarity

It’s easy to fall into the trap of only working to get a “yes” on your renewal or upsell. As you use the Q4 deal accelerator, readjust your goal to work to clarity. Your goal is not to get as many deals to a “yes” as possible. Instead, your goal should be to get as many decisions as possible.

As you work through the accelerator, your number of “yellow+” and “yellow-” deals should start to drop. Your aim is to get as many yellows turned to greens or reds as possible. The focus for your green opportunities should be getting those deals to closed-won or closed-lost by the YED-D.

By the time your YED-D rolls around, our hope is that your spreadsheet is totally empty. Every single renewal or upsell has either been closed-won, closed-lost, or has a calendar date set for January.

Grab your copy of the Q4 deal accelerator template.

Build your sales confidence as a CSM

Does approaching a customer about an upsell or a price increase make you considerably uncomfortable?

Learn strategies to stress less when having, sometimes touchy, money conversations in our blog, “How to upsell customers with confidence featuring Bryan Neale.” Get Bryan’s tips on how to build your sales outreach, what to do when a customer ghosts you during a sale, and much more in this Q&A.

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