If you are in any kind of sales role, you might be hearing, “Call me after the holidays,” as people look ahead to the end of the year. So, does that mean you can just sit back and clean up your files from now till January 2? You can, but your pipeline will feel mighty empty when you return.
Now is a great time to call existing clients. Thank them for their business. Check in to see if anything about their situation has changed since you last spoke. What business challenges are they facing? The great thing about existing relationships is just that—they are already in place and they are likely to take your call or open your email.
If you use a Client Relationship Management system such as Salesforce or something specific to your industry, you can run reports on client birthdays, client anniversaries, last time you spoke with them, last time they placed some business, etc. You would be amazed at how touched some people are when you leave them a message wishing them a Happy Birthday. And I don’t mean, clicking “Like” on their Facebook page when it reminds you it’s their birthday. Dial the phone and speak in person or leave a voice message. It’s a dying art.
For your larger or more active clients, take a day and drop a small gift at their office. It gets you out from behind your desk and lets them know you are thinking about them. In our industry, we are limited to $100 per client per year so we keep our gifts reasonable but thoughtful. Food is always appreciated and they can share with their staff. If they are gluten free or watching their waistline, it’s great if you remember that when making your selections. I am gluten intolerant and it is frustrating to open a box of traditional brownies from a vendor on my birthday. He wasted his money and missed the mark. I’ve had lunch with that guy and he knows of my GF issue. It becomes obvious that his gift is just automated and not personal.
Do you have your prospects set up on some sort of “drip” marketing campaign? Is there something you can mail them or email them that would be of interest and keep you on top of mind between now and the first of the year? An article about something you have discussed or something pertinent to their industry is always welcome. Instead of emailing a link to the article, I sometimes cut it out and drop it in the mail. It stands out more than just a “sales” email blast. Check your industry sources to see if there’s marketing content that you can send by subscribing to a content source. This can make your life so much simpler than if you have to write original content every week or every other week.
For prospects that are already working with you, I have had success in scheduling meetings with both spouses over the holidays because their work may be slow as well. It can be challenging to get two spouses together and away from their work or for business partners to be available at the same time. You’d be surprised to find that some people are happy to get out of the house the week after Christmas.
For prospects who are close to the finish line, don’t be that guy (or gal) who is pushy just because you want to make your year-end sales goal. If there’s a likely price increase or reason for them to close now, then make a friendly call. Over the years, I have had it happen when I knew a product was being discontinued or there was a price change coming that had not been announced where I tried to accelerate the sales process. In most of those cases, it turned out badly and I would have been better off waiting for the process to evolve organically as it might have instead of creating an unwanted sense of urgency for the client. Remind yourself to look at it from the client’s viewpoint—“WIFM”—What’s in it for me? You have a different perspective than your client does.
In the meantime, I do take a little time at year-end to reflect on sales made and sales lost. What was it about the target prospect that caused one to close and the other not? Was it something about me? Was it about the process of our whole team? I try not to take it personally and just recognize that my product or service isn’t for everyone. I’ve also learned over the years that a lot of purchases are made on emotion and not data. It can be perfectly clear to me what the ideal solution is for a particular client or prospect but the timing may not be right for them to focus on it. You don’t always know what else they are dealing with.
I also take a little time to set some goals for the coming year. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions as they typically don’t make it to the end of January. So here’s to finding your own reflection after the holidays!