In some industries, summer is a very busy time, but for most sales professionals, the middle of summer brings a dip in sales activity. Many clients hold off on making decisions at this time of year. Even if a prospect is willing to make a decision, chances are they’re on vacation, at the lake, in the mountains or coaching a Little League team.
Summer brings us a weird dichotomy: business is slower, but life is faster. Deals take longer, and fewer people are making decisions, yet somehow, you’re crazy busy. Many sales pros are busier than usual in the summer while closing fewer sales.
Here are a few things that can help you thrive during the summer while getting you ready for the busy time that will hit in a month or two:
Time Management – All professionals need to exercise good time management practices but it’s especially important for busy sales practitioners trying to balance work with all their summer activities.
I’ve noticed that even people who are highly successful and who happen to be going through a particularly busy time, STILL end up wasting time each day. If you watch the little five- and 10-minute time wasters, you just might find time to work in some calls to prospects.
Teamwork – Any time you can divide the labor, you give yourself more capacity. If it’s appropriate in your company, you might want to team up with another sales professional. If you have access to clerical support, find good and efficient ways to use it. I have met many a sales pro who has access to administrative support but chooses not to use it, saying something like, “Well, it’s faster if I just do it myself.” To me, that means the sales pro hasn’t spent time training the admin how his or her sales process works.
Another important part of establishing a good team is that you have people to cover for you while you’re on a summer vacation. This is an instance where the old saying, “Give in order to receive,” comes into play. Go out of your way to cover for colleagues and you’ll have some “money in the bank” so to speak.
Time Blocking – I’m a huge fan of time blocking, and it’s an important component of time management. Time blocking means you literally block out chunks of time on your calendar before a week even begins in which you will do nothing but reach out to prospects. It could be email. It could be in-person visits. It could be telephone calls. I find that telephone calls still tend to be the best use of prospecting time. The key to time blocking is to never cheat. Once a time block is on your schedule, you should stick to it no matter how tempting it is to do something else during that time.
Proactive Research – It’s especially important to do your prospect research during off hours. Since you have so much going on in your personal life during the summer, you don’t want to spend prime, daytime meeting/calling hours looking up prospects’ websites and LinkedIn profiles. Instead, do that during weekends, late nights or early mornings.
Persistent Effort – Just because fewer people are answering the phone in the summer doesn’t mean you have permission to slow down your business development efforts. Any time you take your foot off the prospecting gas pedal, you’ll pay the price 90 to 180 days later.
No matter how busy we get trying to balance work and summer fun, we still need to find a way to reach new prospects. It is shocking how fast a pipeline can drain. If you want to avoid the up-and-down, boom-bust business cycle that too many sales reps find themselves struggling with, you have to find the time, energy and enthusiasm to make one more call even when you’d rather be at the pool.