Strategy

5 Ways to Make the Fourth Quarter Your Most Productive

By October 15, 2018

There are only 50 productive business days left until 2019, but that’s plenty of time to make a strong finish to the year.

If you want to finish 2018 on a high and have your best foot forward for 2019, here are five key steps to set you on the best course for success.

1. Streamline your workday.

Start visually on your calendar: Move projects that have no chance of completion in 2018 to next year.

Then reorganise your workdays to block off at least half of each day, at the time when you feel most energised, for the core focus of your role – the one activity that creates the best return. Other important projects should slot in around this time, rather than disrupting it. While it’s likely that some things won’t get done, you’ll still feel satisfied at year’s end, having spent the majority of your time concentrating on adding value to the business.

Make sure that when you have that time blocked off that you are not checking emails, or answering calls. In other words, stop allowing distractions to keep you from the most important work you can do.

2. Plant your seeds for Q1 2019.  

It takes roughly 30 days of prospecting to fill a pipeline for the next 90 days, so it’s critical to get in front of prospects now if you want a productive January. To avoid encroaching on your core activity time (see above), take advantage of the many extracurricular networking opportunities that the season has to offer.

Many companies hold open house evenings during fourth quarter, inviting customers and their wider network to socialise. Others host breakfast trainings or informational lunches on the latest industry tech and trends. These activities are a great no-pressure setting to start conversations with your internal champions and establish a foothold for the next budgeting cycle.

3. Clean up your data.

It’s a good time to ensure that the data in your sales platform is up to date and that your business development, sales, marketing and customer success teams are using a shared set of definitions. You may also want to run a permission pass campaign for stale contacts in your email database, or clean up your CRM. Most SaaS and email platforms charge at least in part on the number of contacts in your system, so there’s no sense paying for contacts that aren’t engaging with you.

4. Revisit your goals.

If your targets for the fourth quarter are equally ambitious to previous quarters, or you’re putting on the pressure to hit your targets for the year, you’re likely setting yourself up for disappointment. Don’t dismiss the stresses and family obligations that the holiday season exerts on your colleagues and business prospects. Rather than chasing distracted prospects for a commitment, focus your efforts on deals that are on the cusp of closing, and building that pipeline for the first three months of the new year.

This is also the time to review your high-level business goals. Ask yourself the big questions, such as “What worked this year and what didn’t work? What are my goals for 2019?” Plot out your goals on a 2019 calendar, marking dates for review and reappraisal.

5. Talk to your people.

Good cheer and collaboration are abundant during the holiday season, but if they are not usually present in your workplace, now is the best time to question why. Create a time and forum for employees to give their feedback on the past year, and to present ideas back to leadership for the coming year. Ask them about all aspects of the business, from creating more efficient processes, to customer service, to motivators such as career paths. If you think it might lead to more candid feedback, one option is an anonymous survey with specific, open-ended questions.

By implementing the five steps above, you can save some yourself some time and energy and position yourself for a successful start to 2019.