Black Friday lessons for your B2B sales team

Courtesy of tshein

What does Black Friday have to do with your B2B sales goals? After all, you typically don’t have people lining up at 2am for your sales calls, right? Well, there are a few lessons from Black Friday that B2B sales teams can pick up. With November soon coming to a close, it’s not too late to implement some changes right after you get back from your trip to turkey town.

1. Black Friday is the first “official” sales boost for the holiday shopping season.

For B2B sales, it also signifies the end of the calendar year fiscal calendar for many. Retailers know that in order to boost sales before the end of the year, they need to start as early as possible without being too aggressive. If Walmart could start Christmas sales in July, they would but it would likely backfire for them since no one is generally thinking about holiday decorations during backyard barbeques. The day after Thanksgiving is perfectly situated at around 30 days until Christmas. More than enough time to get people in the buying spirit, and plenty of time to start seeing cash registers ring up. At the end of the calendar year, B2B customers may have budget free that they need to spend and want to start the New Year with new systems, products or services already purchased and ready to implement. Waiting for January 1st means in many cases that the sales person is operating with a new budget cycle, new priorities and new fiscal goals which may or may not be in alignment with your needs. Don’t kid yourself by waiting for the New Year. Start now!

2. Ever notice how Black Friday ads are front loaded with items that catch your attention?

Retailers know from research trends, buying behavior and actual receipts what the hot items are long before advertisements are made. That’s why those 55” LED TVs are staring at you from nearly every newspaper, TV and mobile ad. B2B sellers need to understand that with only 25 business days left in the calendar year, they need to focus on the items that will likely have a revenue impact for their company. Big Data can help prioritize those opportunities that will statistically stand a better chance to close in short order. Rather than focusing on every potential prospect, focus on those that have characteristics of buying the products that you’re ready to sell. And focus on the products that have short sales cycles that don’t require 2 levels of approval signatures. Sure you can tee-up something bigger for the beginning of 2013, but if your quota is staring you in the face on Thanksgiving morning, prioritize your opportunities.

3. Black Friday shoppers take prep work seriously.

A few years ago, I was out at 1 am doing some Black Friday shopping and I marveled at the level of preparedness of a few people in line. They had written up notes with the opening store hours for each store they wanted to hit. They had the circulars, but they had cut out only the pieces that they wanted and pasted them into a notebook so they wouldn’t need to carry different circulars around all night. This also allowed them to only focus on the things that mattered, because when time and quantity of goods are scarce, you cannot waste time browsing. B2B sales reps need to make sure that when they’ve got someone on the phone that indicates some buying behavior, they have limited time to close the deal…especially around the holiday season! Make sure that talking points are handy, ensure that you’ve got all the order details processes ready to go, and that you are following up typically more quickly than you might normally do. The stakes are high and if you normally wait 5 days before the follow-up call, your lead might be skiing with his family in Aspen before you get a chance to close the deal. Be prepared!

Did I miss anything? Please add your B2B lesson from Black Friday in the comments.