The holidays are upon us. With the kind of year our nation is just completing, we all may feel we need time off with friends and family. And yet, it is precisely because of the kind of year we have had that this might not be the time for too many in the vendor community to take a long break.
Right now, there are a lot of customers sitting in very quiet offices trying to figure out their plans for next year. The reason it’s so quiet is that during the holiday season, a lot of people take time off to enjoy themselves so offices aren’t as crowded as they usually are. Some of the decision-makers you have had trouble getting time with the rest of the year just might pick up the phone now. I know everyone wants to rest over the holidays, but with the economy as bearish as it is–even the healthcare economy–and budgets as tight as they are, your customers need your advice and counsel now more than ever. After all, a lot of them have been signaling all year that they need a partner who is going to help them with their issues. So if you are planning on a normal holiday break, you may be missing some great opportunities that are just lying there for the taking.
I was in sales for most of my career and knew most of the tricks of the trade. I learned there were a few key opportunities to see clients. I always stayed on top of my accounts during the holiday season, knowing that many of my competitors took time off in December, some for most of the month. So, I stepped on the gas instead of hitting the brakes, often with great results. I know it sounds like a tough thing to do, but sales takes fortitude; if you want to be successful at anything, you need the heart to do what your competitors won’t.
A number of years ago I sold the Eastman Kodak Company 98 pages of advertising by getting on a plane during the middle of December to fly up to Rochester, N.Y. The client I sold to that day was frank and to the point: “You know I usually don’t see a lot of salespeople at this time of year. I try to take a few days off to spend with my family, but because of your attitude and persistence I’m going to give you a big portion of my advertising budget. Your magazine deserves the business, and I appreciated your coming up here and making a presentation to me so I could be more comfortable with my decision.” I’ve always remembered that sale, but the same thing has happened to me other years.
If you are truly dedicated and consider yourself a true salesperson, forget all the Christmas parties and other distractions, and keep making sales calls, on the phone, through thoughtful e-mails and, best of all, in person. It never ceases to amaze me how salespeople let down at this time of year, when annual budgets are being finalized and customers are actually available. Starting today and through December, try harder to see someone you couldn’t get to all year. Give it a try! You'll be surprised by the results.