Selling techniques to brighten the dark days of winter
The dead of winter is upon us in the northern hemisphere and it can seem a long way off until spring warms us up. The darker days of January and February can bring a mental cloud over our daily mood. That cloud shows up to your customers in your actions and your appearance. Your customers see it. Making it tougher to appear enthused about selling.
This hit me hard the other day as I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark. I’m sure you have had those days as well. That’s not a good strategy. Take at least 15 minutes to go outside and see the daylight.
On top of that, we are just coming off the holiday season. Two short work weeks can cause a backup of work, which needs to be caught up. This can easily cause you to feel overwhelmed.
If that wasn’t enough to slow you down, you probably just had your annual review or received your year-end sales results. You worked hard last year and had good results. Maybe you even had great results. Well, now it’s time to repeat that all over again. Maybe, you even have to sell more than you did last year. Again, the feeling of being overwhelmed can show up.
If one or more of these scenarios are getting you down, please realize you are not alone. Everyone is going through it, including your coworkers and your competitors. Here are five sales strategies to jump-start your dead batteries.
- Summarize last year – with a nod towards the new year
Reflect back with a review of some statistics. When climbing a big mountain, it’s inspiring to take a moment to turn around and see how far you have come. This works in our selling efforts as well.
You hustled all year and got a lot done. Even if you had lower sales results than you wanted, I’m sure you can look back on all the hard work it took to get those results. I’m also sure that you learned a lot going through last year. Reflect on those new learning points.
Now, turn back around and look towards the goal or journey you are on this year.
- “I learned a lot last year. How can I use those lessons to accomplish more this year?”
- “What will be the highlight moments of this year? What is there to look forward to?
- That big goal for this year is not that far away. Just look how far I have already come. What are the first few steps I can take today to get started?
I’m starting a new acronym. Right here on this podcast/blog article. I’m calling it ABN. I’m sure you have heard of ABC (always be closing). That’s a very famous movie line from a sales speech by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s debatable whether or not it’s truly a good sales strategy or just a cool scene for a Hollywood movie.
Well, I am creating ABN, which stands for Always Be Networking. Not that creative, but it is crucial to speeding up your success and helps you when struggling to get out of a slump. New relationships give us a feeling of being connected. Good for your morale. Especially when that person is in your line of work. You get a sense of helping and being helped as you go out and meet new people in the industry. Not to mention how much you learn from their experience.
Jan-Mar is a great time of year for this in agribusiness. That’s when a lot of our annual meetings take place. I know it would be easier and less expensive to just stay home and not go to that conference. You might even have a good excuse with bad weather coming in. However, this is where you need to be to network. This is where you meet customers, fellow vendors, industry experts, etc.
Remember, you are not the only one going through the winter slump. So are your fellow employees and so are your customers. So, help them network. If you are in a position to influence activities in your company, then lead the efforts. As salespeople, we are typically informal leaders in our business as we span interactions with all departments in order to serve our customers. Go to your manager and let him know that you would like to initiate some internal networking. Make the initial networking events easy, fun, and helpful. Focus it on a common topic like “Better communication to help everyone”.
Next, remember that your customers are going through this polar hibernation time as well. Again, as the salesperson to all of them, you find yourself in somewhat of a leadership position. It’s really up to you to initiate a meeting like this. Focus on the most critical area they are struggling with in their business.
3. Learn one new thing
Learning makes you feel rejuvenated and inspired. Like you have this new skill or knowledge that gives you a small competitive advantage.
Technical product training is always helpful, but try not to limit it to just technical training. Consider some of the basic business or personal development skills: communication, time management, speaking, etc.
There are dozens of ways to accomplish learning. The good news is that we are out of school and there are no more 16-week semesters required to learn something new. Find what method you like and stick with it. Start today. Start with a small, easy-to-complete learning. Keep updating and adding to your learning.
Here’s a quick way to learn a new skill. Do you think meetings are boring and unnecessary? I’m guessing you said, “Yes.” Ask the person who holds those meetings if you could lead the next one. Now, you can learn a new skill of leading a meeting and hopefully, you won’t fall asleep in your own meeting.
4. Build one new internal relationship
Just like networking, be intentional about going out and building one new internal relationship during this time. If times are slow or you are stuck in the office due to bad weather, take 30 minutes and go visit the IT manager. This is not a visit to find out how they can help you get your computer working. This is a time to build the relationship. First and foremost, for a professional understanding of what they have to deal with every day in their role. At a minimum, ask “What can I do to help you?”
5 Tune up your prospect funnel
First, build a healthy prospect list (funnel) if you don’t have one. Second, make sure it is healthy, vibrant, and continually updated. The reason many salespeople don’t sign up or focus on prospecting is because they have a dead funnel. They have a list of prospects who they may not even call on. Without moving the sales process forward with them, their prospect funnel becomes stagnate, boring, dismal, and then abandoned due to being “too busy to call on prospects.”
The best solution to that problem is to keep it fresh. Routinely go through and remove anyone who is not moving forward in your selling process. A living document feels exciting to work on. Don’t let a dead funnel kill your entire prospecting program.
Put these five strategies to use right now. Open your Outlook calendar or whatever you use to track your schedule. Schedule just one task for each of the five strategies. Schedule it in a fifteen-minute block. Only put what you can accomplish in 15 minutes. As soon as you complete that task, schedule the next step in the process for that strategy.
An example might be:
- Jan 12 – 8:30-8:45 – Gather all my prospects and get them on one list
- Jan 16 – 8:00-8:15 – Pare down my list to just the top 35 prospects and get them on one page or one funnel (this might be in your CRM program or an Excel report)
- Jan 19 – 10:00-10:30 – Update my prospect funnel with the next step I will take to move the sale along in my selling process with them. More importantly, put a date when you will do that step. Most importantly, put that next step in your Outlook calendar.
It’s early January, but we have already gained 10+ minutes of daylight since Dec 21 (the darkest day). And we are gaining 2-4 minutes each day, depending on your geography. The first step in springing out of the sales slump is to recognize it for what it is.
Now take action!