Although we sometimes might not think of it in those terms, many industries have seasonal sales cycles throughout the year – whether it’s the holiday shopping season for retail, the final spending of the budget at the end of the fiscal year, or the slow, drowsy period in summer in many B2B environments. This last one can be especially challenging for sales reps, where sunny days and high temperatures induce lethargy and distraction in offices across the country. But just because these days are drought-prone, it doesn’t mean they can’t be used to progress your sales activity. So here’s some things to tackle when the heat’s up and sales are down.
- Focus on prospecting.
With summer being the high season for travel, and so many decision makers out of the office, this is an excellent time to restock the pipeline of prospects. Reach out to new people to start a conversation about their needs and how you might be able to help them with those issues. If things progress rapidly and you have an opportunity to close, great. But the emphasis here is on building a budding relationship – not necessarily to chase a sales quota.Also, set up alerts for potential prospects. There may be some key news, such as a job title change, or a merger, etc. These type of trigger events invite a natural and easy entry point of contact. This is a good practice to engage in year-round, by the way, but can be especially effective in the summer or other slow periods.
As part of this strategy, while you’re on vacation, talk to people and engage in a little networking. It’s a perfect, no pressure way to introduce yourself, establish points of contact, and get references that you can revisit in the future. Again, you’re not trying to get a deal done – it’s about stocking up for when both you and the prospect are ready to move along in the buyer’s journey.
- Reconnect with your current contacts.
Adrian “Woj” Wojnarowski, one of the premiere NBA sportswriters, columnists, and reporters once said the reason he’s been so successful isn’t because he’s a great writer – in fact, he said there’s people far more talented than he is. His success is built upon his relationships. Whereas many other sportswriters only contact their sources when they want something, Woj keeps in touch with his sources year-round, often discussing things that have nothing to do with basketball. By creating a relationship that isn’t solely about the work or based on trying to get something from his sources (prospects in sales terms), he’s able to get breaking and more accurate information than his colleagues.So use these fallow months to reach out to your already established relationships. While you should always have in mind an end goal of advancing the relationship, it can be something like a note of congratulations about a promotion or sharing an article of interest to your prospect.
- Drum up referrals.
50% of referrals convert to sales, so another way to heat up the slow period, get more prospects, and avoid an intrusive sales pitch is to ask your current clients if they know of other people or companies for a referral. This allows you to engage in building the prospect pipeline, which is one of your primary goals for slow periods anyway.
- Craft new collateral.
With summer often a comparatively dead period as far as sales goes, it’s a prime chance for sales teams to meet with their marketing counterparts and discuss a refresh of collateral. This may well be tied to a change in messaging, but the new collateral could also be subtler than that. In any case, it’s about identifying areas and pain points that resonate with potential leads and prospects, and assessing how changes in the marketplace might well demand a corresponding shift from you in terms of collateral.
- Perform a mid-year assessment and consider adjusting.
One advantage of natural slow sales periods is to meet and go over how the year has been going so far in terms of sales-related goals. It’s also an excellent time to see if the present plan for the last two quarters of the year works, or if there need to be adjustments based on changes in the organization or the marketplace.
- Organize or get more training/coaching on your CRM.
The summer lulls are a great time to go through your CRM database and organize it to make sure your information is up to date and streamlined, with no errors and perhaps a reorganization to make things easier to find or input data. You might also want to take advantage of the opportunity to get more training and/or coaching your CRM system. Acquiring or refreshing this knowledge now will make you more efficient in CRM usage during more active periods, and make you a more productive sales rep overall.
As you can see, summer need not be paradoxically gloomy in terms of sales. It’s a season for new connections, new changes, and simply newness overall. It’s a period to refresh, reset, and prepare for the quicker fall and winter, so you can close out the sales year with a bang.