Sales Trainer Mark Zokle Discusses the Dreaded End-of-Year Scramble

Mark Zokle

It may be spring but there’s no better time to start thinking about meeting (or even exceeding) year-end sales goals, says expert sales trainer Mark Zokle. Here, Zokle shares his wisdom on how to close out the 4th quarter on the right note.

Interviews and News: We are so glad that you could speak with us this evening. 

Mark Zokle: I’m happy to do it.

Interviews and News: Today, we’d like to discuss meeting sales goals. Is there particular strategy that you believe new salespeople should focus on?

Mark Zokle: I think the overall emphasis should be on providing customers with a viable solution. This applies to every industry, by the way.

Interviews and News: Having the right solution doesn’t always pay the bills…

Mark Zokle: That’s true. However, it does pay to be passionate. Enthusiasm is something that will shine through to clients.

Interviews and News: How do you recommend handling a situation when goals are not met? 

Mark Zokle: The first thing I would say to do is to evaluate what hindered the process in the first place. Did you lack knowledge about your product or approach the wrong demographic? You have to break down what caused the failure before you can turn things around and achieve success.

Interviews and News: When do companies typically review their sales teams’ goals? 

Mark Zokle: For some, it’s a continual process. Others wait until the end of the year.

Interviews and News: Is it possible to scramble at the last minute to meet those year-end goals?

Mark Zokle: It is, and that’s not uncommon in any sales position. My best piece of advice to people new to the profession is to keep an organized record of sales left unclosed so they can be revisited at the end of the year.

Interviews and News: That’s a good idea.

Mark Zokle: You can also review all the proposals that were contracted and make a list of the projects customers wanted to postpone.

Interviews and News: When should I stop trying to sell?

Mark Zokle: Never! You can always look for opportunities to make one more sale. It doesn’t matter what you sell, but the minute you stop is when you fail.

Interviews and News: Is it a good idea to circle back around and contact previous customers?

Mark Zokle: Absolutely. If possible, meet with your top clients to see if they have identified next year’s needs that will need attention.

Interviews and News: Is it appropriate to ask if they have anything left in their budget?

Mark Zokle: If it’s someone that you’ve built a relationship with, yes, but be very tactful.

Interviews and News: Should I contact prospects that have pushed me off?

Mark Zokle: It’s okay to reestablish those connections. You never know when something has come up that you might be able to help with.

Interviews and News: How do you feel about asking for referrals?

Mark Zokle: I think that’s one of the smartest things a sales professional can do.

Interviews and News: Should I push for last-minute meetings in December if the client wants to wait until after the beginning of the year?

Mark Zokle: If your client needs to wait until after January 1, there may be a reason. Keep in mind that it never hurts to have opportunities waiting for you after the ball drops on New Years…

Interviews and News: What tips would you offer to salesmen and women losing motivation at the end of Q4?

Mark Zokle: Seek out new inspiration. Ask yourself what you are working for and go beyond that.

Interviews and News: We appreciate your insight.

Mark Zokle: Anytime.

Mark Zokle has been involved in numerous multi-million dollar transactions. With an expertise in the home improvement industry, Mark Zokle joined the team at BCI Acrylics, Inc. in 2011 and has helped grow this popular bath remodeling company into a nationally-recognized brand.


  1. I never really believed enthusiasm actually mattered in a sales job until reading this interview with Mark Zokle–just always thought it was product knowledge that got things sold. Mark Zokle makes a great point that salespeople should put their emphasis on selling solutions, not products. There’s really nothing more disheartening than to sit down to listen to a presentation and just hear cold facts. I think Mark Zokle probably means that people’s enthusiasm shines through when they can provide insight into their product as opposed to simply stating facts and figures.

    • Mark Zokle says:


      Thank you for your comment. I encounter that thought process a lot especially with people new to the world of B2B sales…people who are passionate but afraid to let that shine through. I think your job is like anything in life: you have to really care about it and believe in it in order to be successful.

  2. Mark Zokle hit the nail on the head – to find out what caused failure before you try to make things right. I’ve been trying to tell my team that since one of our newer guys failed to close his first major deal. There were several of our guys who felt he should’ve been fired. Mark Zokle uses the example of not having product knowledge. That is exactly what happened with us. This guy was young and zealous but, unfortunately, he did not have all of the details that he needed. As sales manager, I took the blame and believe that better training from me would’ve led to a more positive outcome for my company.

    • Mark Zokle says:

      I love that you are taking responsibility for this loss. It can be very easy to lay blame on employees but I firmly believe that at the end of the day our failures and successes are ultimately the result of how well we prepare our people.

  3. I love the idea Mark Zokle has of keeping a record/journal of proposals that didn’t quite make the cut. I found out almost by accident just yesterday that one of my biggest clients hasn’t spent his entire budget for the year. It took me three hours, but I found some notes I wrote down earlier regarding a shipment he wished he had doubled. I called him and we have an appointment scheduled for this afternoon! Mark Zokle is right that you can always look for an opportunity to make another sale… Sure hope today’s meeting works out that way for me. I look forward to reading more from Mark Zokle in the future.

  4. I would like to offer praise to Mark Zokle from the purchaser’s side of things. I am a buyer for a large automotive parts manufacturer. I often have my reps drop in (all too often unexpectedly) starting around 1 November every year. Mark Zokle is one of the few sales trainers to actually teach his trainees to wait if the buyer says to wait. I think that’s really important because being too pushy can lose a sale very easily. Honestly, I once changed suppliers because the salesperson would not quit calling the week before our Christmas shutdown.

    • Mark Zokle says:

      Stan – Thank you for that. I never see a reason to be overbearing. While I certainly do encourage my team to be present, assertive, and available, I, too, shun pushiness.

  5. Mark Zokle says that seeking out new inspiration might help a sales staff to pick up some steam in the coming months. I like that idea but am having trouble coming up with something. My question for Mark Zokle is this: should I offer my team a cash bonus for closing deals in December? Should I make it a person-to-person competition or a team-oriented goal where everybody benefits if we reach a certain amount of closed deals?

    • Mark Zokle says:

      It is always fun to encourage friendly competition but you don’t want to rush things and make it sloppy. With such small time constraints, it is perhaps more beneficial to reward your team’s effort. That way, they will be more likely to communicate with one another if they have questions that someone on their team may be able to answer or if they come upon an unusual situation that one of their team members has successfully closed before.

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