Ah yes, it’s that time of year again. Lines at the mall are out the door, parking lots are jammed, and calories don’t matter (right?). With the holiday season comes the end of the fiscal year for the majority of companies. And for inside sales reps here at AG, it can be a stressful time, as they try to pass qualified leads while prospects are taking vacation time to spend with their family. We can use this time to plan for the New Year while also nurturing accounts and catching prospects live. Last week, Craig gave some tips from a director’s point of view, and this week I’m giving some tips from a sales rep standpoint.
1. Target more senior level employees. It is true that less people are around to answer their phones and emails in December, but if you happen to speak with a prospect live, you are more likely to pass them. There are some interesting stories floating around the office from years past at AG with sales reps passing C-level prospects. You have to be persistent and try to target those higher level employees, but it will pay off. I have spoken to many prospects who have told me their organizations are having a partial shutdown for the holidays, which means many workers will not be in the office. However, the necessary workers will be there, so this is a great time to target higher level employees. Don’t be afraid to ask those prospects who are still in the office during the holiday season if they could direct you to the correct contact.
2. Circle back to your list of nurtured or interested accounts. One thing that has helped me throughout tough months is creating a list of your nurture and interested accounts to circle back to every few months. It’s worth trying to have a quick discussion with these prospects before the holidays and set up a time to either check in with them in Q1 of 2014 or have an intro call if they are ready. You should always be pulling in contacts to your current pipeline, but December is a good time to focus on interested accounts from that calendar year. And when you do speak with someone live, it helps to say you wanted to check in and try to get some time on their calendar in the New Year before schedules get hectic after everyone returns from holiday vacation. I have had prospects appreciate the fact that I circle back with them to schedule time either right before the holidays or immediately after.
3. Connect on a personal level. Another thing that helps around the holidays is your tone. Be cheerful and happy; it is okay to say “Happy Holidays” in emails and voicemails. It will make you stand out from the automated messages prospects get from many salespeople. When leaving messages, try to mention that you wanted to try to speak with them before the holidays to see when their schedule would allow for a discussion, since a lot of people are taking time off to spend with their families and enjoy the holiday season. This will help you connect on a personal level as well as on a business level.
4. Think ahead. Finally, you also need to be thinking of the year ahead. While December is a tough month for many, you need to look at January as well and create a strong pipeline for when you return to the office after the glitter and champagne wears off. This is why it is important to always be pulling in new contacts and getting availability from interested contacts for follow up discussions.
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You can tackle the holiday season both in an out of the office and be successful. It just takes planning and organization. My best advice would be to start in the beginning of Q4 and plan ahead then, but if you are unable to plan that far in advance, just stay persistent and you will be able to uncover qualified opportunities.