By John Barrows –
The days are long, the temperature is hot and the Red Sox and Yankees are battling it out, which means summer is here. Unfortunately for us in sales that means a summer slowdown is coming before the hockey stick of Q4 hits. Instead of falling victim to the slowdown and struggling to get by in the summer there are some things we can to do drive both short and longer-term results if we’re willing to put in the effort. Here are a few that come to mind:
1. Start building pipeline now
If you have a 30-90 day sales cycle, that means waiting until August will be too late. You have to start building pipeline now. One of my favorite quotes is that a big fat pipeline solves most problems, and the summer slow down is no exception. Even if the deals won’t be able to close in August, by having a big fat pipeline, you reduce the need to discount and set your Q4 up to hockey stick even further.
2. Strengthen your relationships with your existing customers
Instead of being annoying and calling or emailing prospects that are probably on vacation, set up some informational calls with your existing customers. Ask them how they are leveraging your solution and what a difference it has made and what else you can do to make sure they get the most out of it. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like about the sales process. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn, and what you can share with them. It will also go a long way in your relationship capital for when you need something like a referral down the road. Lastly, you can turn those conversations into stories you can use when talking to other prospective customers.
3. Work on your personal brand
A few years ago, you would be able to build a personal brand by simply sharing blog posts on social. Now, the most effective way to build a brand is to add value by providing context on much of the content that is already out there. Written long-form posts and videos are the most effective, but they take time. By curating information on specific topics through tools like Feedly you can start to read and learn about your industry, the personas you are targeting and your competition. When you learn something based on what someone else wrote you can then share it with your perspective and what you learned about it. You can also spend time engaging with people on social platforms and answering or asking questions. The more people see your name and associate it with someone who is trying to add value and learn the more people will start to come to you.
4. Try something new
I’m a big fan of practicing on my tier 3 accounts. If we don’t have real deals in the pipeline for the summer months, why not practice some new offerings or service bundles? Not only can this increase your average deal size, but it could discover something your customers want. For example, they’d be happy to pay a bit more for active consulting. It also gives you something you can negotiate on without discounting.
5. Work on your personal development
When was the last time you took a course or invested in your own learning? For most of us, it was college or something that an employer set up for us. Take some time and even a few of your own dollars to sharpen your skills by investing in your own knowledge. If money is tight, there is a ton of free and low-cost content out there or premium investments like my portal.
6. Take a break to get ready on Q4
Last summer I launched my Instagram account documenting my trip to Italy. While sales is one of the few professions where we’re directly rewarded with how hard we work, we’re also easily burnt out. Since we’re not heart surgeons saving lives, why not unplug for a few days and come back sharper than ever.
Again, don’t fall into the trap of slowing down just like everyone else does during the summer. Instead, speed up and fly past them while they’re not paying attention. One of my favorite quotes is “Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”