Sales Preparation Strategy – Understanding Your Sales Schedule And Preparing For Battle
Every company selling products or services has a busy season. Whether it’s seasonal or around a holiday, every person in the customer service and sales should know when this is and is prepared to maximize on opportunities. I originally wrote this as an internal sales preparation strategy whenever someone new was hired on our sales team to help them understand the sales schedule for our industry.
I encourage you to continue to read below, but the whole point is that we need to take advantage of when our buyers are in a buying mood. There will be times when it is slower than normal. Hopefully, these strategies will allow your sales team to plan ahead use this time wisely to get ready for the next sales season.
Some of you reading this will be thinking that there are no sales seasons and that sales happen all year long. There are some of us in business development that work in an industry that has a short selling window. Another example maybe those who are selling sponsorship packages or tickets to an annual event, they have a short sales window. For those of us who find ourselves in a short sales window, keep reading!
Importance Of Understanding Sales Season
The high point of a sales season, if it exists, is important to maximize every opportunity during a short period of time. This window requires every sales representative to be armed with material and prepared to make successful presentations.
Sales seasons may also dictate when companies will seek new employees. There is a good chance you were hired when the company was not as busy. Good sales managers will hire someone from the sales team months in advance of the height of their busy season to spend extra time getting the new hire acclimated to the company environment and products or services.
Also, it is important that every sales representative is available during the busy times. That means try to avoid taking vacation, getting married, planned surgery’s (unless of course it is an emergency), taking training or professional enrichment classes.
Selling To Congressional Offices
I used to work in an environment where the sales season was really only happening in the fourth quarter. Those other nine months I would have sales meetings, software demos, share insightful information via emails, and generally get to know my prospects – building a foundation for later. I knew that all this was building up to a strong fourth quarter.
Typically this down time is when your prospects are likely very busy and cannot even focus on having a conversation with you, so it made little sense to try to schedule a meeting or demo as you are not likely to get one. I did get meetings, of course, and even then I was told that the decision would have to come at the end of the year. That is great if the meeting occurs in September, but it’s not so great if the meeting occurs in May.
Is Your Marketing Material Up To Par?
When September rolled around, I would start to get calls so that we could continue our initial discussion many months before. In these nine months, I considered my off-season. When I was not interacting with a prospect or generating new leads, I would spend a lot of time in the off season preparing marketing materials for the end of year sales push.
This included putting together a leave behind packet and any other marketing material that may have required some assembly. One place I worked had nice looking folders with their products and services inserted but on thick card stock. SA Interactive recently created this envelope packet that was very similar.
Other times we would have to special order marketing materials which would take a few weeks to produce and send to us so we had to make sure we ordered this well in advance of any trade show and the end of year sales rush.
Use This Time Wisely
The off-season was a time to review what marketing materials we used, and if necessary draft new content for marketing pieces, proposals or new products. We also conducted a good deal of training where members of the sales team would host training sessions with the rest of the company to help them understand the importance of business development, how we approach it and what their role was in the business cycle.
We liked to refer to them as a classroom series with fun, team-building exercises thrown in to make other employees more comfortable enough to spark a conversation that would later be turned over to the sales team as a softer prospect.
Finally, take some much needed time off! Get out of the office, recharge your batteries, schedule to get married, come and visit Louisville, Kentucky! Most companies will likely encourage this and in some cases even provide flex days where you get perks like working from home, or coming in late and leaving early on your flex days. I have even been in companies where an off-site strategic planning session was scheduled and in other instances we had a boating outing followed by a cookout to help build team unity.
What Can You Do During The Off Season?
Here are a couple of examples:
- Review sales materials, marketing, and proposals
- Plan a calendar of upcoming marketing campaign deployments
- Write content for future marketing deployments
- Clean up your CRM database – merge records, close deals posted
- File away any notes or documentation from past deals AKA housekeeping
- Practice sales pitches
- More role playing exercises
- Attend professional enrichment classes
- Attend seminars and industry events
I enjoyed my time working so closely with Members of Congress and their staff. Selling solutions to them was interesting and fun, but I do wish that the sales season was much longer.