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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

3 Ways to Take Advantage of Downtime

The dog days of summer are a great opportunity to reach out in ways you normally don't have time for.
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If you’re like most salespeople, you spend your life in hustle mode. Your inbox, CRM system, mobile phone, and other channels for client questions and demands engage you in an endless, frenetic game of Whack-a-Mole.

That’s how it seems, anyway. But, of course, there are times when the action slows, if ever so slightly. The end of summer is one of those times. So--mostly--is December. Clients go on vacation or into budget season. The incessant shrill of alarms quiets to the occasional chime. Most people use this lull to sweep candy wrappers from desk drawers, catch a baseball or hockey game, or just watch the backs of their eyelids.

Don’t be most people. There is opportunity here. Just as luck favors the prepared mind, so downtime favors the driven.

Here are three things ways to take advantage of downtime:

Write a one-pager. Create something for your client that is not a sales piece. How often do you connect with clients on a meaningful level, when you are not asking for something? We have all read about being a “consultative” salesperson or executing a “challenger” sale. But what do those terms mean?

What they mean is going above and beyond to help clients gain perspective. So be that person. Write a report that teaches one client some tricks with your product or service that you’ve learned from another client. (You have to respect confidentiality, of course. No spilling one customer’s beans to another, no matter how educational those beans may be.) Or lay out some important changes in the industry. Put together a quick hit on what’s coming out of the lab. Or just jot down a note about something important that you’ve learned recently.

Keep it short. Make it smart. Be useful.

Build your network. This is a good time to grab coffee or lunch with people you actually want to grab coffee or lunch with. No agenda. Not expectation of boosting your quarterly numbers. The best networking is networking conducted with the purest motives: because you want to get to know and possibly help more people. And yes, down the road they may help you, too. But for downtime networking, you don’t require an ROI.

So reach out to five or 10 people on the periphery of your network. People you’ve always wanted to know better. You’ll be surprised by the positive response. After all, they’re likely in a slow period as well.

Thank the people who have helped you. Make a list of the people who have helped you in the past year. On a notecard, thank them--be sure to say specifically for what. And offer them help in return. You can even send a small token: a book, a funny coffee mug, a gift card, a shirt from their alma mater. Put it in the mail and then sit back and smile. You’ve made someone’s day.

Now you can go to the game.

 

 

Last updated: Aug 7, 2014

CRAIG WORTMANN | Columnist | Founder and CEO of Sales Engine

Craig Wortmann is founder and CEO of Sales Engine and a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago?s Booth School of Business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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