Skip to Content
Mattson Enterprise, Inc. Change Location
This site uses cookies. By navigating the site, you consent to our use of cookies. Accept

Managing Producers In The Fourth Quarter


It is the end of another fiscal year, and while you would love to say you can coast into the New Year, the reality is the majority of the Producers on your team have yet to meet their yearly revenue goals.

Not surprising considering the financial services industry is the only industry in which sales professionals wait till the 4th quarter to go into full production mode. Actually, some receive a bonus for meeting their goal during the 4th quarter. That’s crazy, right? I can’t think of any other industry that actually gives an incentive to its sales professionals who wait until Q4 to work. Yet, Managers and firms have come to accept this as part of the way business is done. “Do a little for a long time and then do a ton in a little time” mentality. We accept it since this form of reality was true when you produced also.

Here’s how it works. Each year, like clockwork, the same thing happens as outlined below. It’s a vicious cycle comprised of various ingredients:

  • Culture: The industry creates an incentive for Producers to wait to close business until the last three months of the year. As a matter of fact, it has always been said that 80% of business is done in the last quarter of the year.
  • Leadership Acceptance: Leaders have accepted this thought process. As a matter of fact, many follow the same philosophy when they recruit. Different story for a different day.
  • Lack of Motivation: Producers have a plan of what to do, the issue is actually doing it. And, doing it consistently. The key is dealing with the bravery issues surrounding the action items within your plan. When you know you should, but don’t “need” to, unfortunately, most choose not to. When the option of time is taken away, the motivation converts from “want to” to have to.”
  • Managing to Numbers: Management tends to manage numbers instead of behaviors. This allows Producers to live in a world of “have to” and “want to.
  • As a Manager in this environment, your job becomes increasingly difficult. But I believe with a few changes you have the power to break the cycle as outlined above. Let’s take a deeper look into the attitude and behaviors of both the Producer and Manager to better understand what I mean.

Lack of Motivation.

Producers do not really want to work, but will when necessary.

Believe it or not, this is classic behavior for any sales professional—even outside of the financial services industry. Think about it Managers, Producers typically fall into two categories:

  • Those who can, but won’t.
  • Those who will, but don’t know how to.

And, by the way, if you are having trouble distinguishing between “those who can” versus “those who will,” wait until the end of the year when it becomes very self-apparent. We all know who it is we are talking about on your team.

The folks who fall into the “those who will, but need help on how to” category are definitely in the minority. They are the easiest to manage because they prospect consistently throughout the year. This group of Producers have a firm understanding of what needs to be done in order to achieve their goals, including earning bonuses, and follow their plan consistently every month. They know their plan and choose to follow it.

Then, there are those Producers who fall into the “those who can, but choose not to” category.

They had the ability all year to follow their plan, and they have chosen not to. Many Managers are fully aware of this and have accepted the many excuses Producers make while explaining why they didn’t do their actions within their plan. Managers, this is the group that can be challenging to lead. They didn’t want to do what it takes all year long to close business, so now they will do whatever it takes for this short period of time because they need to meet their numbers.

When in this situation, when their backs are up against the wall so to speak, the behavior of the Producer begins to shift. He or she intellectually knows exactly what must be done in order to achieve the set goal—and to earn the Q4 bonus. So, it is at this moment that the Producer’s guts get bigger. Meaning, all of a sudden, he or she will do anything imaginable to bring in new business. They don’t have the option to wait till tomorrow, thus their courage is heightened.

One of the many problems with this situation is prospects can literally sense or “smell it” when the sales professional needs the business. It is the scent of desperation they pick up on. And, when that happens, you guessed it, the Producer loses all power in the selling situation.

So, as a Manager, how do you support a Producer whose guts just got bigger?

If you’ll recall, one of the foundational concepts we use in the Sandler Selling System is to always be in a position in which you want the business. Ideally, you’d love to have the client, but the second they can smell you need them, you lose your power. With those big guts, remind your Producers to act like they want the business—not that they need it. Emphasize to your Producers they have the courage and guts to never need the business more than the prospect needs the recommended solution.

Managing to Numbers.

Management tends to manage numbers instead of behaviors, and this encourages Producers to live in a world of “have to” and “want to.”

You’ve heard me say this countless times: Never manage your numbers; instead manage the behaviors of your Producers. No person I know enjoys the year-end sprint. The Producers, Managers, and home office personnel all have a heightened level of anxiety for no reason. Look at the best 1% in your enterprise. They hit benchmarks throughout the year, they are consistent in their behaviors, workload, and results. These Producers hit their annual number by Thanksgiving, allowing the holiday time for massive relationship building, not chasing money.

Take some time to consider this: Do you have people on your team who can, but won’t, or who will, but don’t know how to do it?
It is critical to identify which camp your Producers fall in as the underlying issue is really motivation. Let me clarify. If a Producer on your team falls in the category of “those who can, but won’t,” he or she will get through the end of the year. While painful for everyone, the ball WILL get over the finish line. The problem becomes that once the goal is achieved and they have faced their fear of failure, the “those who can, but won’t” folks will automatically go back to their natural tendencies. You see, they “can but won’t.” The New Year now becomes a time to have casual meetings, drink a lot of coffee, or play tons of golf instead of consistently doing a little bit of prospecting all of the time.

So, to all of the Management teams out there, I challenge you to lead your teams in a way in which they choose to consistently follow their plans. Stop the madness and do not allow your Producers to wait until Q4 to close all of their business. That approach is simply not good business.

Management teams don’t realize they have the power and tools to transform the way their sales teams approach achieving goals—and bonuses. Introducing a few new accountability and motivation-based techniques can be the difference needed to accomplish even greater goals.

If you are interested in discussing how to avoid the pitfalls of “those who will,” let’s talk. Please reach out to me via LinkedIn or call me directly at 631-726-3537.

Remember to do a little bit all of the time, not a lot some of the time.

Glenn Mattson

Glenn Mattson

Glenn Mattson is a seasoned veteran of the selling profession, Glenn has personally built one of the leading offices for Sandler Training with his office ranking consistently in the top 1% of Sandler franchisees worldwide. He specializes in working with financial services producers and agency managers who want to shorten their selling cycles, grow their revenues, boost their productivity, and improve their operational efficiencies. Glenn's clients include many producers who seek to be MDRT qualifiers as well as Court of The Table and Top of The Table members who attribute a great deal of their success to the principles, practices, and, above all, the accountability Glenn brings to their practice. Glenn is based in Long Island, New York, but he's usually "in the field," working with clients all over the United States helping them to grow their business, revenues, and profits. Additionally, Glenn is a sought-after keynote speaker, available to speak to small or large groups on emerging business topics.