It’s just 41 days til February – according to the sales calendar
It’s currently October 15th and although we’re not quite at the end of the year, it’s important to have a sales strategy for the months ahead so you don’t receive a terrible sales forecast as a Christmas gift.
Many companies are currently caught up in urgent delivery of services before year end, but if they are not also having a focus (even a small one) on sales activity in the next 41 days, then they risk a team coming back from leave and having low productivity for the first month and having to play catch up in the first quarter.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and setting the business up for a great start to the calendar year is not only cirtical, but completely achievable…
I told myself that I would never let this happen again.
Years ago, I had a pretty great year and was coming into November feeling proud of my achievements. I was looking forward to a short break over Christmas and was just cruising through until year end.
What I failed to recognise, was that in December, very few people made buying decisions to work with me, as they too, were getting ready to check out for the year.
So December was a write-off.
Then it doubled-down by continuing into January as well.
(For my readers who are not based in Australia, December-February is the major school holiday period for the year and many people are taking leave during that time.)
The new year really kicks back into force in the first and second weeks of February when school is back in full swing.
So I was completely caught off-guard in November for the next 2.5 months of no one making commitments to begin working with me.
Furthermore, I came back from my short holiday to a feeling of having to start all over again. I had zero momentum for the new year.
This scenario is more common than I thought and many businesses around the world suffer from taking their foot off the pedal as they approach a holiday period without appropriately preparing for the season following that.
There’s no excuse
December comes around at the same time every year, so there is no excuse to not being aware of its looming.
Whether you, your frontline staff, or your business development team are responsible for bringing in new business, it is a crucial time to push this up the priority list before you end up like I did years ago.
Hit the ground running
It’s important to ensure that you begin your new year (or the period after long national holidays) with momentum and purpose, and if you execute this successfully, you’ll benefit by:
- Knowing that your new year is already waiting for you
- Enjoying your holiday
To set your business up for success in the new year, here are my 3 steps that you can implement, immediately.
Caveat: If you are one of my many readers outside of Australia, then these same rules apply for your summer holidays.
Set a recurring yearly calendar appointment for the 3rd and 4th weeks in November – call it “February Follow up”. Ensure it is set to be an ‘all day’ appointment, so the banner sits above your week. See my image
Use your CRM to report 2 lists:
- Anyone you have had a first sales meeting with in the prior 4 months
- Anyone you have an open deal/opportunity with that is yet to be “closed-won”
First point to note, is that you are NOT going to be calling these people to wish them a Merry Christmas/happy holidays etc.
Unless they are friends of yours, then a phone call just for this, is a little weird!
The strategy is to call these people in late November, BEFORE the Christmas season is among us.
Here’s what you’re aiming for:
- As with all follow up, if you haven’t spoken to your prospect in 4 months, it’s been too long. If you don’t call them in November, your next chance is February… and you’ll need to reintroduce yourself then 😉
- Find out how they are tracking with deciding to work with you. Your CRM should have accurate notes as to their decision-making process and timing
- Agreement to pick up the contact again in the new year by scheduling a meeting for a date in February
Whilst that might seem strange to book a meeting so far in advance, my calendar is continually full of meetings that I made in the prior months. Doing this is a great way of ensuring you are staying in touch with your network, and you are actively being guided by their decision-making time frame.
Here’s what to say
When you make the call, here is something you can try:
Hi there (name),
It’s Julia Ewert here. (pause) How’s things?
Things have been pretty great with me as well, thanks for asking.
I wanted to call you today for 2 reasons. Is that ok? (pause)
First, when we last spoke, you had mentioned that a sales process (insert your services here) was something you wanted to speak about again around this time.
May I ask how that’s working out for you?
The second reason…given the end of the year is looming, I wondered if we should make a time to pick up the conversation again in the new year. That way, we can kick off the year with a purposeful conversation together.
I’ve got my calendar handy, do you have yours? When are you back from leave?
Make the calls, don’t send the emails
If you’ve been following my content for a while now, you’d recall that I’ve never ever said the phrase “emailing people is a great way to keep in touch”.
Emailing people is a terrible way of keeping in touch.
Phone calls are the best way.
People’s inboxes are overrun with tasks, requests and demands. Your email, even with that script above, is unlikely to get you anyway.
Pick up the phone and reap the rewards.