B2B sales organizations are sometimes vulnerable to seasonal slowdowns. Whether it’s a time of year when your customers are less likely to be closing deals, or whether your customers are out of the office more often for vacations and holidays, the time during the holiday season (around Thanksgiving and Christmas-to-New Year’s) is often a challenging few months for sales people.
Here are a few tips for how B2B sales organizations can stay productive and keep working toward sales success, even while the rest of the business world is “on holiday.”
Rethink Your Sales Strategy
If your daily work of closing deals is slower than usual, take some of these slow days to re-evaluate your overall sales strategy. What is your key value proposition? What are your competitive advantages compared to your competitors? What are the areas of the sales funnel where customers have been slowest to convert and quickest to object? Take a high-level view of your overall sales operations and map out ways to improve.
Re-design Your Sales Funnel
Better yet: does your organization even have a sales funnel? A surprisingly large number of B2B companies have not created or identified a sales funnel or organized a methodical process to work new business leads from step 1 to the finish line of making a sale. Slow times of year are a good chance to map out your sales funnel. What are the steps that people need to go through while they’re deciding to buy from you? What is the buyer’s journey for your product or solution or service, and what does it look like? Does everyone go through the same steps? How many steps are there? How do you move customers from one step to the next – what level of commitment do you ask them to make? (For example: step 1 might be – “customer agrees to a follow-up call,” and step 2 might be, “customer agrees to a product demo,” etc. – make your funnel as detailed and deliberate as necessary for your company’s sales process.)
Invest in Sales Training
The holiday season can be a good time of year to train your sales staff. Whether it’s a half-day workshop or an off-site sales training retreat, the slow time of year is a great chance to accelerate your team’s selling skills. It’s always a good investment to help your time improve their collaborative, creative sales abilities, and you can often gain valuable feedback and insights from taking your sales team out of the daily grind to give everyone a chance to talk and share ideas in a relaxed environment.
Nurture Your Long-term Sales Leads
Are you running out of fresh sales leads? Are customers not calling your back? What about your long-term leads that might have been put on the backburner? Slow times of year are a great chance to re-connect with some of your long-term sales leads that have been assigned for long-range nurturing. Start making follow-up calls and get back in touch; some of these “cold” leads might have warmed up since you last spoke with them.
Look Ahead to Next Year
For some buyers, the end of the year is an insanely busy time of year when they are trying to finalize budgets and deal with last-minute projects that need to be done by Dec. 31. Even if buyers are not out of the office for the holidays, they’re often working longer-than-usual hours and are unavailable for sales calls. So this means, during the holidays, you might need to start looking ahead to January. Identify some customers who have expressed interest in buying from you in the New Year ahead, or make lists of customers who have a new fiscal year starting soon. You might also get a few late-breaking deals during December – some customers have budgets that they must “use or lose” by the end of the year.
Even if customers are slow to pick up the phone during the holidays, that doesn’t mean it has to be a slow time of year for your business. There are many ways that your B2B sales team can keep making progress on your goals, even during the “slow season.”