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Suffering A Seasonal Sales Slump?
Suffering A Seasonal Sales Slump?
Solve it with a Holiday
"Sharpen Your Sales" Tune Up!
By Chuck Bauer
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, or what I refer to as the Seasonal Sales Melt Down, or Seasonal Sales Slump.
Their bad news is good news for me, because the Seasonal Sales Slump brings me business. My programs, SalesMastery, PerformanceMastery, GoalMastery, a Sales Tune-Up or my ESP Program all solve the Slump by keeping sales forces in line and on target.
The bad news for the Sales Industry is the lack of sales effort which yields low sales volume. Yet the one element that increases over the holidays ¡s the increase of excuses of why this didn't happen, or why their usual markets weren't receptive, and new markets were too busy with other things to give them the time and attention they need for an adequate sales presentation. That excuse list is long and wide all yielding little or no results (sales) for your department.
December a few years ago, when I was Vice President for a Dallas based Merger and Acquisitions firm with 80 sales people, the CEO frowned, paced and grumbled for the entire month. 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 Sales People 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 he chose not to listen to the 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 extended our major sales contest through January, rather than November, when it usually ended. It worked and we posted record sales at year's end.
More specifically, a few years ago, a graduate of my two day SalesMastery course called me in November to tell me he was going to change his tactics for the Holiday Season. This was the year he was escaping 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 20 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 any prior notification, he focused on just dropping by his client's homes to make the personal deliveries. An amazing thing happened. First, his clients were totally surprised and caught off guard and pleased by his "personal touch" during the holidays. Even better, most of his clients asked him about additional financial services and investments strategies which resulted in his best ever December sales month. All of this was a direct result of his stopping by with a personal holiday gift of significance.
The law of sales averages continues to work against most sales people. I often see this trend in dealing with sales people on a daily basis: 5% excel at their trade, and the other 95% are just average or even below average. The 5%'ers will do what it takes to have a great Holiday "Sales Season" and refuse to accept the excuses of the sales people who will mentally check out over the holidays.
Here is a list of Holiday Mental 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 justifications for these excuses!
The old adage states "most people organize and put more effort into planning their yearly one week vacation than they spend on planning their lives." Same thing with the holidays, the majority of sales people spend more time planning their parties, time off, gift list, etc., rather than spending time on planning to have the best sales December ever. Even management teams place more significance on the yearly holiday party rather than the December business plan. As Jim Rohn says, "Escape is easier than change."
So, how do we overcome the Seasonal Sales Slump? Check out these Professional Pointers for the best Holiday Sales Season you have ever had:
Start planning preventable measures way 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 as evidenced by the SalesMastery Graduate. 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.
STOP sending generic impersonal types of Holiday Greeting Cards. Send a Holiday card that is personalized, or don't send anything at all.
Personal means this: A Hallmark or better card, a personal hand written note on the inside of the card, place a small surprise in the inside of the card, it could be something as simple as a bag of Tazo Tea. Hand write the name and address on the envelope, paste a nice holiday type stamp on the envelope for postage and as my SalesMastery Graduates know, the envelope must have a fun holiday sticker on it as well. Have these complete and mailed by the first week of December. This type of effort helps build client intimacy, it is distinctive and it will create major T.O.M.A.
Impersonal means this: Pre-packaged generic holiday cards with your company name printed on the inside of the card and you whip out your business card from a stack of 1000 and insert it into the card; followed by a white mailing label against a green/red/white holiday envelope followed by the disastrous postage machine metered stamp. Now that's impressive, don't you think?
Stay sales disciplined, and do not give in to the many holiday temptations that pull you away from achieving your goals. Pick your battles - meaning 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(smiles)! Keeping your positive energy and maintaining good health will help you increase your sales during the holidays.
Be pro active in helping your company design and implement programs that will increase sales.
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 00 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 00 bonus to his clients as a referral fee. He immediately contacted all his clients by phone and e-mail, announcing his special 00 "new client bonus" for referrals given to him during that time period. If he gets a new client from his 00 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.
Know that "focus" and "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 - let your clients decide that, not you. You'll have to ASK to find out!
Many of you sell products that your clients can take advantage of year-end tax deductions. You should capitalize on that.
Many people spend the end of the year reflecting on needs and challenges they experienced during the year. Maybe your product or service 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?
Answer your own "Why should I work SMART during the holidays?" This relates 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 action plan that will help you achieve it? Then you'd better get one in place for next year - only if you are serious about your personal sales success. If you do not have a format to follow, e-mail me and I will send you, at no cost, the Chuck Bauer GoalMastery Action Plan form that 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 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 Program. As always, make sure the goals are written, published, and accountability is placed into your program.
Work on having a Positive Seasonal Attitude – which helps rid yourself of the “What’s The Use Attitude.” Some sales people 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, they may feel 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 sales people are lucky and they are not. Stop majoring in the minors and start Majoring in the MAJORS!
Interested in specific sales coaching? Check out my STP or my ESP Programs!
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 focused on 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.
Good Luck, Happy Holidays and Good Selling!
About the Author: With over two decades of sales experience, Chuck Bauer is one of North America's most experienced sales coaches, consultants and workshop leaders. Chuck consults to a large number of sales organizations and salespeople nationwide and is a member of the National Speakers Association. His information is widely published in many print and internet based publications. He is a committed body builder, private pilot and trophy bass hunter. Find out more about Chuck at www.chuckbauer.com