Use this lull in the action to sell, coordinate and improve engagement.
Applies to Friday’s as well
I have to admit as a salesperson, I love holiday weeks like this one. But not for the reason you think. The 4th is on Thursday this year, which means most people will work Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will be a half day as people “prepare” to be on vacation. One manager would actually schedule, “driving to vacation” on his calendar so we knew where he was. I’m not sure if that was a vacation or preparing for vacation.
Then the big day is here on Thursday and most are off work. Friday is designated as a holiday for some and possibly a half-staff or skeleton crew for many companies. Even if it’s a regular workday, the day after a holiday is always a slow and groggy type of day.
I find there is no better time to step up my sales efforts as my competition takes the day off. Here’s your competing salesperson’s thought process:
– “My customers are checked out or scrambling to get ready for the holidays. They don’t want to see me!”
– “I might as well catch up on some “paperwork” and then maybe cut out early. Maybe 9 holes or a short trip to my favorite fishing spot.”
– “I’ve worked hard the last few weeks. I deserve some time to relax.”
– “I’ll call it work/life balance and just make it a four-day weekend.”
You get the picture. And my opinion of that is, “Great!” You do deserve some time off. Please take as much as you need, while I use the following three ways to sell more, coordinate and improve the strength of my team:
- Sell: Now that sounds strange to tell salespeople to sell. However, it’s true. Your customers will be in one of two modes during the holidays. The first is “panic” mode as everyone is scrambling to get work done before the holiday. The second is “relaxed” mode. Employees are excited about the upcoming time off. Managers are relaxed and catching up on some paperwork or phone calls. The mood is light as everyone is feeling festive prior to the holiday.
I find this a great time to briefly catch a manager or producer for a brief time. Yes, I used brief twice in the previous sentence. This is a moment that may turn into an hour-long sales call or it may be 10 seconds. If you find them in panic mode, excuse yourself quickly, get off the phone call or the farm and let them get back to their work.
However, I’ve had some of the most meaningful discussions at slow times around the holidays. Everyone reacts to the holidays differently. Many get stressed, anxious and angry. While others relax and become reflective. This can be a great moment to connect with both customers and prospects.
- Extra Effort on Coordination: For most businesses, we manufacture a product, ship it to a customer and restock our inventory. In many agribusinesses, we operate three shifts just to keep our customers in product. What happens when you shut a plant down to accommodate for the 4th of July on a Thursday, Thanksgiving on a Thursday and Friday, or Christmas and New Years on back to back Tuesdays? First, you scramble in advance. Second, you scramble after everyone returns from the holiday.
As a salesperson, don’t disappear during these times. In fact, I like to do the opposite. I step up the coordination. I was always amazed when the operations manager would struggle to get the sales team to plan a week ahead of time for Thanksgiving. Then, Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., the salespeople would all wake up and start calling the office demanding their order get in before the holiday shut down. Wow, what a surprise, Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November. Shocker!
Don’t be that guy. Start early. Get a jump on the coordination. Talk with your operations and trucking managers. When you’re running 24 hours/day for 5-7 days/week and your trucks are running at full capacity, how do you catch up? What can be done with your route trucks to accommodate the customer ahead of time or after?
Not only are you helping your internal team, you are also helping get your customer through the holidays. You aren’t their only vendor/supplier. They might have other things on their mind. They probably didn’t read the email your office sent out that said you were going to be closed on the holiday. They don’t care until they need your products. So, step up your coordination efforts.
- Internal Team Focus: Recently, I listened to an audiobook produced by a former secret service agent who told how the different presidents treated them during the holidays. Some presidents understood and appreciated the fact that these agents had to work away from their families on Christmas and Thanksgiving. In fact, one president didn’t go to Texas until the day after so that most of the agents could be with their families. What a powerful message that sends to them. Here’s one of the most important people in the world making accommodations for those that work for him.
Think about those people in your organization that don’t get time off or have to work right up to a holiday. As a salesperson, you can very easily adopt the attitude that it’s not your job to meddle in their business. Maybe so. However, you might be surprised at how engaging it is for you to just show up. A powerful form of recognition is being seen and heard. Just showing up when you could justifiably be anywhere else is a form of seeing and hearing the internal team who manufacture and deliver your sales.
Even if you feel it to be a token form of recognition. Even if you think they don’t appreciate it. Even if they don’t say it. Trust me, they do. They will eventually come to realize; you didn’t have to come in that day. You could have spent time with your family or had your own free time. But you didn’t. You chose to recognize their efforts.
We’ve all heard those stories of how one small gesture leads to a chain reaction of positive employee/customer experiences.
It’s a short week. Want to go to the lake or to the golf course? Go ahead. No one will blame you. Certainly not me. It just makes it that much easier for me to stand out as the salesperson your customer should buy from.
Oh, and what about your work-life balance? You can get that in mid-July when everything is back to “normal.”
For more information on Ag sales training, coaching or business development, contact Greg Martinelli at Ag Sales Professionals, LLC at (608) 751-6971. Email is Greg@GregMartinelli.net Web site is www.GregMartinelli.net