Memorial Day is right around the corner. While the seriousness of this holiday recognizing the men and women who serve in the United States armed forces, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, should not be taken lightly, the weekend has also come to unofficially mark the start of summer.

Readying for retreat

Depending on what part of the country you live in, Memorial Day also signals that the school year is either over or will wrap up in a few weeks and vacation season will get into full swing. For those of us in sales, vacations lead to prospects vanishing for a while and unfortunately, all too often, a sales lag later in the summer. That is, if you don’t take steps to combat it.

Take advantage of the vacation rush

Right now is the perfect moment to use the element of time. Here’s what I mean: Have you ever noticed that people are far more productive right before they go on vacation? They write lists when they might not otherwise. They work more efficiently and get so much more done in fewer days, simply because there is a deadline and a mindset to leave with a clear desk. If everything is tied up before vacation then the time off can be fully enjoyed.

Get your sales team to use this phenomenon to their advantage. And remember, not only are your prospects and customers taking time off, but most likely your salespeople will be vacationing as well. They are just as likely to be more productive prior to heading out on holiday.

Here are two sure-fire ways to get ahead of the vacation sales slump

  1. Now is the time to run a campaign and contest to get as many first meetings/appointments as possible. Run a short three or four-week campaign. Even if vacation season has started in your neck of the woods, run it anyway. This will incent your salespeople to run fast and hard. If people are on vacation, so what. Your salespeople will be forced to grind it out to get enough first appointments.
  2. When you have a salesperson with a vacation scheduled, inform them you expect a certain number of new opportunities before they leave. And, hold them to it. Promise to take over communication with prospects or customers while they are gone so they won’t need to think about it during their time off.

TIP: Offer a soon-to-vacation salesperson a special incentive like a gift card to spend during their time off (see more about incentives below). During the three weeks leading up to vacation, if they have a certain number of first meetings or new opportunities (or closed business if you have a short sales cycle), they get the award.

Choose appropriate rewards

When it comes to incentives for contests, to be most beneficial, you must make them relevant to each salesperson. If you can avoid a one-size-fits-all approach you will have more engagement. Provide options for awards when running a contest and make each salesperson identify the award they are working toward. For more advice, read our blog post about running sales contests.

Urgency is key

To really leverage this time before vacations start, have your salespeople create a sense of urgency. When they leave messages, make sure they refer to the fact that the prospect might be going on vacation and it would be so much less stressful to have made this decision before he or she leaves.

Likewise, make sure that salespeople themselves create a sense of urgency due to their own vacation, sharing their time deadline with prospects well in advance. For instance, if someone is going on vacation the last week of June, then they should start calling in preparation the last week of May. The salesperson should inform the prospect that they want to make sure that their needs are taken care of before they leave.

Daily focus

Now is also the time to have your salespeople step up their calling efforts. Prioritize prospects and work on calling every day to solve their problems, not once a week or every few days. Only daily calls project a sense of urgency. The goal is for your salespeople to be focused, problem solving, answer-seeking machines. Even if the answer is “no”.

TIP: Run a pre-vacation season special. Don’t drop your price. Rather, offer something extra to prospects and clients who sign a contract before a certain date.

Special note for security dealers

Vacation is the perfect incentive for security prospects to say “yes.” The stress reduction associated with knowing their home and belongings will be safe and sound while they are away may be just the reason that you can get a meeting with them and close the deal.