Selling into the US and International market from India the festival season starts in early November and carries on in fits and starts through till the middle of January – over a career in sales I was often conflicted by how to approach the holiday season. While this was a time of great personal joy I used to struggle with ideas to keep the sales effort going. The conventional wisdom is that no one takes any decisions then anyway and given the number of days off even when people were at work it would be a challenge to get any meaningful “face time” from any prospect. It is, of course, not possible to “give up” on this period given that many organizations finalize budgets for the upcoming year. The end of the year often coincides with the end of the Financial Year bringing with it all the attendant pressures of sales targets to meet.
Here are some ideas for campaigns that I have personally found to have a fair chance of working over this season:
- By far the most effective campaign that I believe could be run is to reach out to your own network. In most cases, the true extent of one’s network is larger than one imagines – what is needed is a systematic approach to reach out to them with a well-designed, targeted message. The fact that most people shy away from campaigns at this time works in favour of this tactic because it reduces the “noise”. The campaign objectives should, of course, be well calibrated to reflect the limitations of the period – don’t expect too many “hot” leads but aim to get in front of people and set yourself up for the busier period coming up.
- This may also be a good time to try and revive dormant contacts – people you have been in touch with in the past where the discussions have stalled. Reaching out to such contacts to catch-up, offer some new information or an update on where you and your company may be just the thing. This may not necessarily serve to revive specific sales opportunities but can definitely help revive relationships. In the long run, these could prove more profitable than a single sale.
- There’s perhaps some cosmic significance to the holiday season in the US starting with Thanksgiving – I would suggest this is pointing us towards a campaign to give thanks. There’s no time better than this to thank all the stakeholders – current and past customers, partners and associates and also employees. A simple, heartfelt message to give thanks to them for their support and reminding them that this support is extremely valued goes a long way to cement the relationship.
- One email campaign that I recommend to everyone is an end of the year campaign focused around “Seasons Greetings”. This is a wonderful platform to recap the significant achievements of your company over the year that has gone in a subtle, non-salesy manner – who could ask for more? Companies, their range of offerings and capabilities grow with time and sometimes this is not visible to everyone – current customers are more fixated on the immediate needs being serviced and old customers may still hold an image of you as you were “back in the day”. An end of the year email outlining the most recent events of importance could provide substantial evidence of this growth and help change this impression.
That’s the list of things that usually make it onto my own “To do” list for the holiday season – sometimes with good results. What do you think? How do you fill the time over the holiday season and what results do you get from these efforts? Oh and before you leave – please accept my best wishes for the holiday season wherever in the world you are!