Solve Your Slump with a Holiday “Sharpen Your Sales” Tune Up!
It’s that time of year again, when sales volume slumps during the holiday season. The CEOs and Sales Managers I work with have fits this time of year. They know their sales forces are mentally preparing well in advance of the holiday season for the usual mental check out: the Seasonal Sales Slump.
The law of sales averages continues to work against most salespeople. I often see this trend in dealing with salespeople on a daily basis: 5% excel at their trade, and the other 95% are just average or even below average. The trend intensifies over the holiday season, when many salespeople mentally prepare well in advance of the holiday season for the usual mental check out, or what I refer to as the Seasonal Sales Slump. The 5%ers mentally prepare for something else: doing what it takes to have a great Holiday “Sales Season” and refusing to accept the excuses of the 95% who will mentally check out over the holidays.
The only thing that increases for the 95% are the excuses.
Here is a list of Seasonal Sales Check Out excuses I have heard:
- “My industry takes the month of December off.”
- “I have morals. I don’t want to call or contact anyone during the holidays.”
- “I don’t like to be sold anything during the holidays, so I don’t want to sell.”
- “The holidays are not for business. It is a time for family.”
- “I am so focused during the other 11 months; I need to check out in December to recharge my batteries.”
- “Nobody buys in December unless it is for holiday gifts.”
- “None of my clients want to talk business during the holidays.”
These excuses, based entirely on self-imposed limitations, have no merit or foundation. Perhaps they stem from a lack of discipline, a lack of commitment or just plain laziness. Regardless of the source, there is no justification for these excuses!
Have the Best Holiday Sales Season You Have Ever Had
Plan preventable measures in advance of the holidays.
Have a specific written goal and plan for your holiday sales. After writing out the plan, IMPLEMENT the plan. Publish your plan to your peers and ask others to hold you accountable to your plan.
Being sales “distinctive” creates T.O.M.A. (Top Of Mind Awareness).
Take the top 20% of your client base and do something SIGNIFICANT and PERSONAL for them. This type of correct activity will place you at the TOP of their awareness. When you are at the TOP of their awareness, you just may create an Advocate who will give you all their business AND refer additional clients to you.
Many years ago, at a Dallas-based Merger and Acquisitions firm with 80 salespeople, the CEO frowned, paced and grumbled for the entire month of December. Why? No holiday business, no sales, no revenue, year after year. The sales force basically checked out and took the whole month off. Yet, in the midst of their Seasonal Sales Slump, one of their salespeople had his BEST month ever in the history of the company.
In November, that salesperson committed to reject any of his own pre-conceived excuses and the comments of sales nay-sayers around him. Instead, he affirmed that he was going to have a great month. Rather than join the others around the water cooler and the Christmas tree, he worked hard with effective planned activity and had his best month ever. The next year we started our Seasonal Sales “prevent planning” in August, offering new incentives programs and extending our major sales contest through January, rather than November, when it usually ended. It worked and we posted record sales at year’s end.
STOP sending generic, impersonal holiday greeting cards.
Impersonal: pre-packaged seasonal cards with your company name printed on the inside of the card and your business card as an insertion in a red/green/white holiday envelope festooned with a white mailing label and the disastrous postage machine metered stamp. Any distinction there? Or simply yawns?
Personal: A personal, handwritten note on a Hallmark or Papyrus card containing a surprise—as simple as a bag of Tazo Tea—in a hand-addressed envelope decorated with a holiday stamp and a fun holiday sticker and mailed by the first week of distinction. Thoughtful effort, distinction, client intimacy, and major T.O.M.A. And no yawns!
A few years ago, a graduate of my SalesMastery Sales Training course called me in November to tell me he was going to change his tactics for the holiday season and escape from his self-imposed sales box. He remembered that in SalesMastery I teach “NOT TO SEND Impersonal Holiday Cards.”
Instead, he decided to personally deliver, face-to-face, gift baskets and personalized calendars to around twenty of his most valuable clients. His plan was to keep most of his December schedule clean so he could attempt as many personal deliveries as possible. Well, it worked. Without prior notice, he made the deliveries himself at his clients’ homes. And amazing things happened. His clients were totally surprised and pleased by his personal touch during the holidays. Even better, most of his clients asked him about additional financial services and investment strategies and he had his best December ever—all because he stopped by their homes with a personal holiday gift of significance.
Be SMART, not greedy.
One of my sales students spoke to me about a special holiday bonus his company had just offered. From November 1st to Thanksgiving, his company was offering to their sales staff a $1000 bonus on the next five NEW clients for that time period, along with other great sales incentives. We strategized about the bonuses and came up with the idea of passing along the $1000 bonus to his clients as a referral fee. He immediately contacted all his clients by phone and e-mail, announcing his special $1000 “new client bonus” for referrals given to him during that time period. If he gets a new client from his $1000 offering – great, he passes that along to a very HAPPY existing client. If he gets more and qualifies for additional bonuses, then watch out holiday shopping list and savings account!
Focus & sales tenacity are your best holiday sales friends.
Find the ways to do correct sales activity versus finding the ways not to do it. People are HOME during the holiday season. Maybe they do not want to talk or have a meeting, but let your clients decide that, not you. You’ll have to ASK to find out! Many of you sell products that will enable your clients to take advantage of year-end tax deductions. You should capitalize on that.
Offer seasonally appropriate products or services.
Many people spend the end of the year reflecting on needs and challenges they experienced during the year. Maybe your company could take care of that need. Take personal responsibility for finishing your sales year with a strong effort. Many industries have record sales from December 26th to December 31st, including the automobile and financial planning arenas. Why not you?
Why should you work SMART during the holidays?
This goes back to your own personal and professional goals. Revisit your personal income goal for this year. Are you on target? If so, GREAT! If not, you’d better get busy: the end of the year is almost here. Don’t have a written yearly personal income goal and plan that will help you achieve it? Then you’d better get one in place for next year—if you are serious about your personal sales success. If you do not have a format to follow, get my GoalMastery Annual Planner for next year! This e-book will help you get on track!
If you are a sales manager, consider special incentives or awards (like the incentive program already mentioned)—salespeople are always looking for a way to supplement their holiday expenditures. These special programs should always run through January. Conduct special Holiday Goal Setting Sessions or book me for a one-day GoalMastery Goal Management Seminar. As always, make sure the goals are written, published, and accountability is placed into your program.
Some salespeople do not see themselves as being able to make many sales during the holiday season. If they do make a sale or two, they just might think it was due to luck. When they don’t make sales, they feel badly, that someone is out to get them, or attribute their lack of sales to bad luck. Or they may spend their valuable sales time reflecting on why some salespeople are lucky and they are not. Stop majoring in the minors and start majoring in the MAJORS! Work on having a positive seasonal attitude–which helps rid yourself of the “What’s the use?” attitude. Be proactive in helping your company design, distinguish yourself from the competition, and implement programs that will increase sales!
Stay sales disciplined! Do not give in to the many holiday temptations that pull you away from achieving your goals. Pick your battles—you don’t have to go to every holiday party nor do you need to eat a piece of chocolate off of every plate that passes by your desk . . . well, maybe just one! Keeping your positive energy and maintaining good health will help you increase your sales during the holidays
Last but not least, when it’s time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your holiday labors, enjoy! At least you will know that you placed a major effort in having a great holiday sales period. Allow your sale momentum that you generated during the holidays carry you over to a great sales start for the next year. Before the year ends, commit to solving your sales slump by implementing some of the sales strategies listed above. Instead of a Seasonal Sales Melt Down, have your best December ever by using my effective sales strategies—and not just for this December, but for all holiday seasons in your future. Solid sales figures are not impossible this time of year: they simply require choice, commitment, and completion.