A lot of you around this time of year will have a lot riding on Q4. In many cases, hoping to end the year strong after a soft quarter or two earlier in the year.
If you are going a rough patch though, it’s super important to distinguish between a Soft Miss and a Hard Miss.
What’s the difference? In a Soft Miss, bookings are still growing. Just not as fast as plan, and/or as fast as you’d like. In a Hard Miss — bookings have decreased from the last period.
Hard Misses are a potential sign of a big problem in sales. Because most good sales teams, even with a flat number of leads, even with a decrease in leads … get better:
- They get better at closing.
- Better at increasing the revenue per lead.
- Better at upsells.
- Better at increasing the deal size.
- Better at handling objections.
- And better at competing.
And that means even if you fail a good sales team by not providing them more leads, or more features, they will generally close still more out of the same number of leads one quarter over the last.
So if Q3 was, or Q4 ends up, a bit softer than you’d hoped, but still up in terms of bookings — yes, do worry. But maybe don’t 100% blame it on sales if they sold more this quarter than last quarter. A Hard Miss is a sign of a potentially troubled sales team. A Soft Miss though may mean with just some better features, and some more leads, growth can not only continue … but accelerate.
A Soft Miss is usually a flag you need to help the sales team. Help get them more leads. Close more feature gaps for them. Arm them with better collateral. A better marketing website. Etc. etc.
A Soft Miss is going to happen every 4-5 quarters or so. Every quarter can’t be perfect. But a Hard Miss? More than one of those from a sales team is a big flag.
And if you are having a rough quarter, here’s more on what to do about it: