Problem: Peter asked a question that the entire training class felt was appropriate, given the time of the year. He wanted to know how he could make the most of his time between Thanksgiving and Christmas since business was traditionally slow over the holidays. He was wondering what administrative tasks he could focus on that would give him the biggest impact since he wasn’t planning on making very many sales calls. Now, I’ll give Peter credit for wanting to be as productive as possible during the “slow season,” but I’d have to take some points away for falling into the “head trash” trap.
Analysis: Sometimes urban myths can become reality. Peter had been hearing from others in his company that business was always slow during the holidays – that buyers didn’t want to see salespeople and that purchasing decisions were always put off until after the first of the year. Have you ever heard that? I’ll bet you have. That mindset seems to have a life of its own.
I suggested to Peter that if everybody thinks the holidays are slow, they’ll probably make fewer sales calls. Fewer sales calls inevitably translate into less sales, thereby reinforcing the idea that the holiday season is slow. Cause and effect; it’s simple logic.
Let’s face it; selling is tough…tons of rejection, more than our fair share of disappointments, pressure throughout the year to make our numbers. Now it’s the homestretch, and all signs are pointing to a breather for a few short weeks. Our tendency is to kick back, breathe a sigh of relief, lick our wounds and anticipate better results next year. And the heck with making sales calls because…well, we’ve already covered that.
Now the good news is that your competition probably believes that sales will be slow during the holidays as well, and chances are they’re making fewer sales calls too, and that can be an opportunity for you.
Solution: Even if it’s true that people are making fewer business decisions this is a great time to make sales calls. You can thank clients for their business, find out about opportunities for the new year, ask for referrals, review your past performance and find out what you need to do to be a better supplier next year. Be creative; find a reason to make the sales call instead of looking for reasons not to make the call. And remember, your competitors are probably back in their offices doing admin work, getting ready for next year. This is your chance to get a head start. Take it. The effort you make in December may very well determine your success in the first quarter.
Happy Holidays! Now get to work!!