“Everyone’s on vacation”, “It’s too hot to get out and see a bunch of people”, “No one is making decisions right now” . . .
Recognize these statements? They’re the little lies we tell ourselves because during these Dog Days of summer, we’re hot, we’re tired, and either trying to catch up from being on vacation or are counting down the days until we’re on the beach, toes in the sand with a Mojito in hand.
The Dog Days of summer have always gotten a rap for being a slow sales time, but don’t fool yourself (or take that as an excuse from your sellers) – there are still PLENTY of potential clients working and, in fact, there are many things you can do to take advantage of this hot and steamy time of the year. Pop into some cool air conditioning and buy something frozen and slushy while you take in –
5 “COOL” Sales Moves for Summer:
- Call and engage earlier in the day. Sure, some folks might cut out early for a round of golf, which means, they will usually start their day a little earlier. I tried this one July when the temperatures in the South were reaching close to 99 degrees every day and the humidity made it feel like your were a cake being baked in an oven. Determined to not melt and wilt my jump on making my 3rd quarter quota, I was not going to let the heat get me down. So, I started calling prospects at 7:40 am. The night before, I would line up my research and reasons for calling so I could hit the ground running in the morning. One stunned prospect I reached at 7:49 am was so shocked to be reached at that time, he agreed to see me at 9am. The benefit of this is you can catch early risers, you’re first in the voicemail cue, and the early effort is impressive.
- Send a “Welcome Back” postcard. It sounds silly, but when you reach someone’s voicemail and you learn they’re on vacation, make a note and send them a postcard they’ll be sure to notice when they are back in the office. I’ve done this before with some “Wish you were here” type of goofy postcards and personalized the note letting them know that while they’re off on vacation, I’m melting like ice cream on a black top in August. I note that I recognize they’ll have some catching up to do when they get back but I will call them at a specific day and time to set talk and set a meeting. This always creates a memorable impression which can give you a better foothold on connecting and getting that meeting.
- Make new friends. If you’re trying to gain a meeting with a prospect early in the process and you need their insight, influence, or advocacy, and you’ve called to find they’re on vacation, this is an ideal opportunity to make a few connections in other areas of the organization. Now, this isn’t a move to go around this person, but rather, an opportunity to pick up the phone and learn about the other people near them and possibly gain additional traction. I’ll explain: Trying to set a meeting with the Operations Director in a large fast food franchise operator, I learned the Ops contact was on vacation from his voicemail. I called and asked for the HR director and explained I attempting to meet with Joe in operations but as he was on vacation, wanted to see if HR would like to meet to talk about some of the areas my solution would intersect with her department and Operations – to get the ball rolling. There was no deceit in this – I’m transparent in that I hadn’t landed a meeting with the Ops director, but the HR director knew that I was going to address issues that impacted both departments and she agreed to meet. This may not work for every situation, but it’s remarkable how helpful and open people are when they learn you’re trying to reach someone who’s on vacation and you’re persistent!
- Get your referral game on. If you’re having trouble finding prospects who are eager to make decisions right now, work on your existing super clients and put your referral plan into action. It’s incredible how many people do not ask for referrals, just waiting or hoping their customers do the heavy lifting for them. Choose customers that believe in the value you’ve provided and your best bets are those that are active in their industry, professional development, online forums, volunteer program boards, social media, and conferences. Active professionals are excellent referral sources. If they care enough about their industry or profession to participate in it, they can make excellent referrals for you. Of course, you have got to dig in and spend the time to understand what’s important to them and why they care. Match their passion and enthusiasm and go in with a plan to know WHY they value you, WHO you are looking to work with, and HOW you will follow up and make them look good by referring you.
- Help your customers. Chances are, if you’re having trouble reaching people, chasing vacationers, and getting things accomplished – so are your customers. What are your customer’s business goals and challenges? How can you contribute to helping them achieve those? Can you make connections or referrals? If they’re struggling, what can you share that’s working for you? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and earnestly work to help them make forward progress. You’ll uncover potential areas you can provide value (more solutions), potentially meet more influencers in their organization, and prove you’re a solid resource to count on – not just looking to close a sale.
- BONUS: Try new stuff. If your standard fare prospecting and engagement techniques are not producing results, try new stuff! Try new angles, amp up your social media engagement, share more, connect more, comment more. Send snail mail, leave more voicemails, try new LinkedIn messages, offer to meet for snowcones, ice cream, or a large sweet tea, instead of same old coffee or lunch. Or, if you’re not in one of the sweltering parts of the country and it’s gorgeous – offer to meet for a walk in a park. This one works really well for me, on me. I’m bombarded with requests to meet for coffee or grab lunch and in my own best interest of health and time spent sitting down all day, I flipped the script and challenged many of those meeting requests to an early morning brisk walk. Guess how many have taken me up on a hot and sweaty 3-mile trek? Exactly 2. Weeds out those that aren’t really interested in seriously pursuing my business.
Get creative with how you reach people – show your sense of humor, give more personality, and most importantly DON’T wither and dry up to put you behind your sales goals.
Summer is not a time to create a slump for yourself that takes you another 3 months to dig your way out of. Sure, you may find this time of year more challenging, but make it just that, a challenge. Shift your habits to shift your results.
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!