It’s the most wonderful (and chaotic) time of the year, with lots of cheer and lots to wrap up – like presents and sales forecasting! December isn’t easy; it’s totally action-packed. Not only do you have family planning, but this is the busiest time at the office too, as it’s nearing the end of the year. Most companies are trying to complete their budgeting, strategy and planning for 2014, all while focusing on meeting their sales goals for 2013. Most sales teams are finding that it’s an especially difficult time to close deals or even get initial meetings with potential customers.
If you’ll be prospecting during all of this, you may be asking yourself: “How should I plan on getting through to my prospects during the busiest month?” or “How can I meet my goal before the break so I can actually enjoy my holiday?” Don’t get discouraged. We have plenty of tips below that will be key in prioritizing, driving efficiency and getting a better response rate during this hectic time.
Tip #1: Priorities
Prioritize and focus on what’s realistic – Is there a real opportunity there? Why do you think so? Are they showing urgency and is there a need? Really try to clarify why you think you should be spending time on this specific company/prospect. Don’t be afraid to de-qualify either, as you only want to focus on the customers with the highest probability of moving through the sales funnel.
Tip #2: Contacts
When it comes to prospects, find your key contacts. You should always be in touch with the decision maker because he or she will be signing the contract, but it also doesn’t hurt to connect with the other experts at the company since they are the ones who can influence the decision maker.
Sometimes, it’s even best to reach out to the influencers first. Make a couple guesses on who the right people are to target, depending on their role. For example, for us the decision maker is typically the VP of Sales, so influencers might include a Sales Operations Director, IT Director or a Sales Director. Then when you connect, try to get a feel for what the team’s immediate initiatives are. Once you have uncovered what the company is looking to improve on from the influencers, you will have a better idea on how to approach the decision maker and can convince them on why they need your product or service.
Tip #3: Planning
Plan your day carefully. It sounds simple, but creating a schedule for yourself around your priorities will allow you to be the most productive during the day. Make a to-do list rated by importance and try to knock out your top priorities first. Once you’ve completed your highest priorities, then schedule what you should be doing in careful increments. For example, our business development team fills this time with prospecting sessions that offer 15 minute breaks after every hour.
Tip #4: Tone
Make sure your prospecting approach is casual. Nothing is more annoying than picking up the phone and hearing that uncomfortable sales tone. Use the same tone of voice that you use when you are talking to a close friend, and get straight to the point while conveying your helpfulness. With your thoughtfulness and normal tone, your prospect will find you easier to relate to and will be more likely to listen and help you out.
Note: A key thing to remember here is not to “sell to someone” right away, but “help them buy” by educating them through your conversation and keeping them engaged.
Tip #5: Emails
Keep your emails short, too. This is important because a lot of emails go straight to the trash just because of their length. Since you are a stranger sending an unexpected and lengthy email, it is expected that it is a sales email. To save yours from living in the trash, try to keep them brief, relevant and straightforward. Always eliminate the wordiness and keep it to 4 sentences MAX as most people stop paying attention only 30 seconds into an email.
Tip #6: Network
Pretty much everyone is on LinkedIn so take advantage of it! Plus, prospecting on LinkedIn can be more successful because it gives you insight into your prospect’s company, personal background and interests – so you can craft a better message. It also shows that you are a real person and not a spam mailer.
Always take a chance to connect with your prospects and see if you share a group or mutual friend with them. If you do, write a personal introductory message asking for the connection. They may or may not connect with you, but if they do, message them while the iron is hot! The minute they accept your request, you should send a message right then while you are still fresh in their mind. Keep the messaging simple – thank them for the connection and ask for some time to talk, and then (hopefully) a conversation will begin.
If you do spark a conversation, try to stay engaged with them to keep the relationship strong. Pay attention to what they are posting so you have a clear idea of what they are interested in, and if you come across something that you think they might enjoy, don’t hesitate to share it with them! They will appreciate your mindfulness and will eventually come to consider you as a trusted source.
Tip #7: Follow-up
Whether you’ve reached out to your prospect via phone, email or a social network don’t forget to follow up… and follow up often! Since it is such a busy time, some people may forget to get back to you. It doesn’t hurt to check in to see when they are free to connect with you. Follow up every day or every few days and eventually, you should hear back from them. Especially if they are in sales too, they will probably appreciate the persistence.
If you have contacted them 8 times without a response, then they are either uninterested or not an appropriate contact. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on that company anymore, though; just focus on a better lead.
So, it’s definitely easy to lose momentum during this time of year, but if you try to incorporate some of these tips into your day, then it will certainly help you get back on track so you can be merry and bright this December – as that is what this month is all about!