Paul Aherne is a guest author and an Outreach customer.
The most dreaded month of the sales cycle is here. December, due to the holidays, is typically a tough month for sales people in several different industries. Sales managers can pat themselves on the back after a good motivational speech that ends with more calls will equal more deals, but that solution isn’t too appealing for the practical salesman. Fear not, there are end of year sales tips you can add to your process to ensure your overall numbers won’t suffer and you may even earn that coveted Christmas bonus.
In my opinion, a deep understand of the space you sell to is critical for every salesperson and it carries extra weight during the holiday season. I, like most of my generation, use social media like Twitter accounts and hashtags, LinkedIn groups, and Facebook pages to gain industry knowledge and current insights. Snapchat is even starting to become an outlet for industry influencers as well. I follow my favorite sales guru, John Barrows, on Snapchat. Stay active on these outlets and find out if the prospects in your industry typically don’t buy at this time of year.
If they are just too busy to respond, try to get creative with your outreach. Don’t just offer the same sales pitch you do all year. Add an extra email to your opening sequence to see if your prospects respond more to holiday themed letters or promotions. Always keep in mind that all of your communications to prospects should add value to their day. Sending a description of your product and a list of your current clients is going to get you ignored because you aren’t adding value during their busiest time of the year. This also goes back to old sales motto, “sell your solution, not your product.” If your product will make your prospects more productive during their busy periods or help generate more leads and sales in a typically slow time of year, briefly present them a success story of your best customer and list a few times slots to choose from for a brief follow-up. If you are getting a lot of autoresponder emails, create a new task in outreach to call them the day it says they will return to the office. You can also schedule a custom “welcome back from the holidays” email.
This is my favorite part of sales and I am always reminded of Ben Affleck in Boiler Room when I hear one. Handling objections should already be second nature to you but you will face more in the holiday season because you will be making more calls to overcompensate for prospects leaving for vacation early and people add an extra layer of defense due to all noise they are receiving in their personal lives. Most likely you will hear the objection “Just send me some information and we will get to it after the holidays.” When you hear your prospect start to give you this closing remark, your first response should be to stop, take a deep breathe, and analyze where you are in the call. Does the prospect know enough about what you are offering to give it actual consideration? If no, hit them with the most relevant value you prop you have. “We help ABC do XYZ, can I ask you a couple more questions to see if something can work for you?” If you have gotten a chance to explain who you are, who you work with, and how you can help, don’t let them get off the phone without setting some sort of concrete time for a follow-up or demo. Of course, you should recognize when enough is enough. If you can’t get even a 5-minute check-in at the end of the week, do your best to respect their time and set a task for a post-holiday follow up.
After making sure you are knowledgeable enough of your space to be considered a resource for your prospects and honed your ability to overcome the numerous objections thrown your way, the last step to avoiding the holiday slump is to plan your path to success. The most successful salespeople I have come in contact with are meticulous planners. Some go as far as making all of their meals for the week and laying out five different outfits on Sunday night so they can utilize every possible second of the work week. I think this level of productivity is great to work up to, but to start out I would take the last twenty minutes of each work day to evaluate where you stand and plan a course of action for the next day. I try to prioritize my tasks using the Eisenhower Matrix. At the end of each day, ask yourself if you have set up time for additional calls if your next day is stacked with demos. Are you planning more calls because you did not meet your daily goal, or is it time to come up with a more creative solution? Are you keeping track of the open rates of your email campaigns? Sales is not just an art form, it is science as well. The reports tab of your outreach is going to help you shape your next day. If you are sitting at a rate of 1 conversation for every 10 calls, make the necessary changes to your schedule to get the extra conversations you need to set yourself up for success. If you are trending above where you need to be, use your extra time to prospect.
Holidays can be tough, but even if your industry sees lows during this season, this can be a great time to build rapport and lay the groundwork for new deals in the new year. No matter how bad things seem to get, your quarterly and yearly quotas will be met as long as you make long term investments in your pipeline.
Happy holidays and happy selling everyone!