Summer is the most difficult time to prospect and land deals. Get ahead of the game now to max out your sales productivity.
When you are selling, getting connected to buyers is critical. Whether you are talking about current customers, referrals or cold prospects: You can't sell to people you can't reach. They, meanwhile, can't get approval from people not there to sign–and no one can get buy-in for you when the halls are empty.
Welcome to the black hole for decisions–also known as summer.
To get the most out of this particular selling season, you need to do a few things differently. Try putting some of these recommendations into practice.
1. Build your calendar now for the entire summer.
Start by blocking out the "low productivity periods." These are the times during which making new connections or getting current deals to close are going to be the most difficult. They should include holiday weeks (Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day) as well as the weeks that school lets out and the week the kids go back–as well as your own vacation weeks.
You'll need to use those weeks for something other than the final stages of closing or the initial stages of opening new relationships.
2. Talk to key clients now.
Summer vacations are already on many of your client's personal calendars. Get them on your calendar, too. It's easy to ask: "Where you going this summer? When?"
The best sales people know when their customers are traveling so that orders don't get missed or delayed. Less successful sales people get surprised because their clients are out of town.
3. Think past your buyer to the decision-making network.
Often several people have to sign off on on purchases or proposal approvals. If you don't know when the key players in your deals will be gone, then your contract can get delayed.
4. Use the summer to set up for the fall.
Once the kids go back to school, it's going to be game on–and in a hurry. You'll have to make your numbers by the year's end, get your budgets together for next year and complete your strategic initiatives.
Depending on your industry, it may also be trade show season.
As a result, the transition from summer to fall is like shifting from first gear to fifth in about a two-week period. Use the summer for planning so you can set yourself up for this burst of activity between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.
5. Consider syncing your vacation plans.
How flexible are your summer holiday plans? If you can identify a period during the summer that will be the least productive for you, that may be a good time to take your own vacation. Take that time to recharge so you can be ready during the more high productivity periods.
The highest-level performers always try to get the most for any investment of time. Looking more strategically at your summer can help you make the best use of your own time.
IMAGE: Flickr photo courtesy of Mays Communications