If you are in sales management, you have no doubt heard the excuses: there is no one in right now, they are all on vacation for the holiday, and I can’t reach anyone.
If you are in sales, there’s no doubt that you have been tempted to use these excuses as a chance to coast out the rest of the year, knowing that unless it closes in the next few weeks, the opportunity you are working on is going in as the first win of the New Year (and why not sandbag it until then and start the New Year with a bang?).
But three weeks is a long time. If you coast the first week of the New Year because your clients and prospects are difficult to reach, you’ve given up a full month. You have better uses of your time, lest you end up in the bottom 80%.
Success in sales means playing all four quarters.
It’s true that some of your clients and dream clients are going to be taking some time off during the holidays. Before they leave, they are going to try to spend their time cleaning up all of the commitments that have made, and they may be hard to reach and hard to pin down for an appointment.
But that’s only some of your clients and dream clients. Many will still be working, and they will have lighter work loads than at any other time of the year. If they are still working, they will likely have more free time to meet with you—and if they are changing horses, the New Year always sparks an interest in change, improvement, and solving old problems.
While your competitors are coasting, spend your time prospecting and calling on the dream clients that you spent all year nurturing.
Write Your Nurture List and Nurture Plan
You know the names of the dream clients that you need to win. You know the clients for whom you and your firm can do the breath-taking, jaw-dropping work that will make a meaningful difference in their results. These are the dream clients that, if won, will also have the greatest impact on your results.
Make a list of these dream clients. Go through your sales force automation, the stacks of business cards sitting on your desk, the business journal articles sitting in your inbox, and brainstorm with your peers.
Then write your plan to nurture these relationships over the next 12 months. How often are you going to communicate with them? What are you going to deliver that proves that you are a value-creator so that when they are even remotely dissatisfied you’re the first person they call?
This is much more difficult than it sounds. It requires that you not only have value-creating content, it also requires that you have enough of it that the frequency makes you a known entity.
Communicating something quarterly isn’t enough that you will be known. When the communication comes from marketing, it doesn’t come from you. Nurturing these relationships starts with the idea that you care enough to think of your dream client and how you can help them—that doesn’t happen by including them on a mailing list.
Send Thank You Notes
Did you win new clients this year? Send them a thank you note.
Did you call on dream clients that you didn’t win, but that still gave you their time? Do you still want to win them at some point in the future? Send them a thank you note.
Did your team help you deliver an extraordinary result for your new dream client? Did they do the boring and often thankless work of making the trains run on time for all of your other clients, preventing them from becoming dissatisfied?
Thank you notes show your appreciation for the prior year, and they start the next year with a reminder of how much you care.
Don’t coast out the last three weeks of the year. Instead, use it to do something to make a positive impact on this year’s sales results and next year’s too.
Subscribe to my weekly podcast In the Arena.