Like most sales, B2B selling, for the most part, is a very cyclical activity. Buying decisions can often be dependent on the time of the year including holidays, seasons, and quarters. Does a cyclically slow sales period mean that salespeople should put in less effort or focus on non-selling activities?
The answer is a resounding NO. Salespeople should never stop selling, it’s eponymous with their title and should always remain the focus. But, there are steps to take during slow months to accelerate your overall sales – here they are:
Look back to sell ahead
The first and most important step of selling more during slow months is to figure out exactly what’s causing the downturn. Blaming it on summer or the holiday season is easy, and might be accurate, but just to be sure, take some time to research and find insights on why these specific months lag behind in sales.
Look at previous years’ sales and find trends on who said no and why. Then, find out if there were customers that were closed during the slow months. Compare closed clients to rejections or prospects who were unsure and see if there’s an underlying pattern. Use that analysis to see who’s still in your outreach list that fits that same pattern. At worst, you’re likely to have a smaller, better-qualified outreach list, and at best, you will sell more in slow months and have a system to replicate it in the future.
Use downtime to create long-term relationships
Winter holiday season and the months of summer can add up to a lot of downtime for B2B businesses. People are taking the time to travel, celebrate and spend time with family. It seems then, that trying to reach out to clients and prospects at this time would be fruitless. With traditional sales strategies and a “need to close right now” mentality, selling anything during this time will be difficult. However, by turning this downtime into an inclusive experience for the people in your sales pipeline, will lead to creating long-term relationships with clients and prospects alike. To do this you could:
- Invite key prospects to your holiday party
- Hold a golf outing where prospects are teamed with senior leadership
- Host a charity event honoring causes that might be meaningful to your prospects
A study by Oracle showed that 81% of buyers are willing to spend more money for a better customer experience. And 85% of all consumers have a positive opinion of a company that supports a cause. Ask yourself this, is there a better customer experience than bringing a prospect into your world as if they were already a client, member of your team, or family? And isn’t gaining a positive opinion from your prospects a great move forward in the sales process?
Dial-in your sales focus by partnering up with marketing
So far, we know that clients and prospects are less likely to buy during certain months, ultimately slowing down the sales cycle. But those months should never slow down marketing. Marketing has its fair share of peaks and slumps, but unlike sales, the time of the year has less of an impact.
It’s no surprise that when marketing and sales teams are aligned, retention and revenue grow. But did you know they both increase by over 30%? So why not use the downtime to align the two teams even more? Work hand-in-hand with marketing and come up with a list of prospects and personas to go after in the upcoming months. Your marketing team can then create an inbound strategy to bring those prospects into the sales funnel for you to start conversations with and close.
Slow months don’t have to be the bane of salespeople’s existence. We have to accept that they are simply part of business. What we don’t have to do, however, is to allow them to push us back. By staying proactive, positive, and collaborative, we can make slow months work in our favor, all while managing to squeeze in a round of golf or two.
How do you make the most of the ‘slow’ months?