3 and a half techniques to jumpstart you back into the selling mode after the holidays
The holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas pose a challenge to many salespeople. Our sales productivity drops as the festivities ramp up.
First, we spend weeks building up to them. We make sure orders are entered according to production shutdowns. We make sure customers understand the change in our delivery schedules. We go to great lengths to make sure our customers are taken care of.
Next, we try to enjoy the holiday as everyone else does. Hopefully, without too many customer emergencies. It’s a darker and colder time of the year when the weather can throw a wrench into any of our plans. Stress levels rise despite it being the most wonderful time of the year. A light snowfall is only uplifting if you don’t have to drive 3 hours on an interstate to deliver last-minute orders.
Finally, it’s now the next working day after the holidays. You’re groggy, trying to get a handle on what happened over the downtime of the last few days, which customers need help to get back to “business as usual”.
If you’re in an office, all your co-workers are sharing their great family time experience. Meanwhile, you are trying to figure out your next step in selling. Should it be paperwork and emails, cold calling and prospecting, or connecting with your current customers? With so many choices, you are now experiencing the Holiday Hangover.
Here are three ways to jumpstart yourself out of a holiday hangover:
- Physically get up right now, jump in your vehicle, and go see your closest customer. Do this unannounced if necessary. But get moving now. If you have nothing to talk with them about from a sales standpoint, then let them know you are “doing the rounds” after all the chaos of the holidays.
- If you can’t do step one, then pick up the phone and call two customers and two prospects. The purpose of these calls is primarily to get you right back into the working mode, to get you out of your hangover.
- Get up, grab your coat if needed, and walk through your location. Meet and have a quick chat with each department you can. I like to start with customer service or the order entry team. They will often be the first to know what’s going on with customers. You can make sure there aren’t any fires to put out. Next, head out into the production area if you have one in your location. I like to start from the finished goods and warehouse/distribution area and work my way back through the production process. Are inventories looking normal? Are trucks rolling? Are customers picking up getting taken care of, etc.? Head back into the office and run by accounting and marketing.
The key to getting this done is brevity. Move fast. You are looking for big issues and getting your work mindset going. Let people know you are doing the rounds and want to make sure they don’t need anything from you. You are simply making sure all systems are back up and running. The other main reason for brevity is to avoid over-socializing during this hangover. If you slow down during these visits, you are going to get stuck in the lengthy discussion about everyone’s holiday celebration. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a balance to social visits or discussions about how the holidays went, how the football game turned out, and which relative is annoying them. However, on this day, with your holiday hangover stressing you out, the purpose of these activities is to jumpstart your work and selling mind.
Be courteous and respectful, but try to minimize these tangent stories that will only slow you down and make your hangover worse. Spending 5 minutes longer with each person you meet to discuss how the refs called the game wrong or how awesome grandma’s cranberry sauce tasted is going to kill your productivity at a time when it’s already slower than usual. And really? Cranberry sauce? How good can it be? It’s cranberries put through a blender.
Good luck and I hope these tips help you this week and in the upcoming weeks through December and January!
Here’s the half technique: Quit using the excuse that, “It’s the holidays. Customers don’t want to see me”. First, it’s a very negative self-image comment to tell yourself. What you do should be important to your customers all the time. Sure, I understand there are times to back away, especially in the seasonality of agriculture. But you are important.
Secondly, customers don’t want you to make a normal sales call. They want to help them navigate the holidays as well. Remember, they are going through the same hangover experience as you are.
Lastly, if you want to use that excuse for not going out to make sales calls, I can get you down to about 5 days a year when it’s just the right time to make sales calls. Between, holidays, harvest, planting, meeting with their bankers, vacation season, bad weather, good weather, spraying, etc. there is almost never a perfect time when they are just sitting around waiting for you to show up. So, go ahead and make today the best day to go see them.
And if you want to make up a story in your head to feel better, tell yourself, “They are going to be so happy I stopped by, they just don’t know it yet!” It works for me.
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