In sales it’s easy to write off the end of the year as unproductive, in effect turning a 12-month selling year into a 10 or 11-month year.
People are in “holiday mode” and many businesses are in a holding pattern, waiting for budgets to be released in the New Year.
I’ll admit, it can be challenging to engage new prospects under these circumstances, but that doesn’t mean you have to write-off two months of the year. On the contrary, we believe this is the perfect time to lay the groundwork for a fast start in 2012. Here’s how… Focus on your customers!
Yes, you read that right. After all the writing I do about prospecting; now I’m telling you to focus on your customers.
This will accomplish two things for you. First, it will create goodwill, which leads to referrals and repeat business. In the holiday spirit, you can send cards, emails, or pick up the phone to express your appreciation and wish your clients happy holidays. You’ll generally find them light-hearted and eager to chat. It’s a great way to show some “love” and solidify your relationship.
Secondly, you may unearth some surprising revenue sources.
How? Here are a few ideas…
- Do a year-end review and offer to help with next year’s planning.
Send your customers an email highlighting what you’ve worked on over the past year. Thank them for the business and point out that you haven’t discussed next year yet. Suggest a meeting to plan for their upcoming initiatives.During your meeting, be sure to mention all your products and services. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard, “Gee, I didn’t know you did that.”
- Schedule executive level meetings with your top 10 accounts.
Similar to #1, but at a higher level, you can get the ball rolling by pointing out some of the ways you’ve helped the client’s company over the past year. Ask if you can meet with him or her to discuss how you might help meet their initiatives in the coming year.You might also share your company’s plans for new offerings, programs or directions and see if there’s a fit with their initiatives for next year.
- Create an account plan to identify untapped opportunities.
Take your client’s organization chart and note the areas where you’re already working. Then notice where you’re not. Are you missing whole divisions that could benefit from your services? Are you working exclusively on one level of the organization? Could you expand up, down or out?Once you’ve determined the new areas you’d like to pursue, ask your current contacts for referrals and schedule introductory meetings. You may find last minute opportunities for this year while identifying new opportunities for next year.
- Analyze your solution portfolio to uncover underutilized offerings.
Extended warranties and service contracts can be a good example of this. Or do the reverse and look at what has sold well. Then consider approaching customers who are not using that offering. Of course, you always want to make sure it’s a good fit for the customer.
These ideas should give you enough to keep you busy in December and spring-loaded for a fast start in January.