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Every year during summer, many clients share with me the same comment: "July and August are not looking good, the pipeline is almost empty and there's no activity. It's a terrible quarter and it's going to take a long time to get going again in September".
This is often based on an assumption that sales managers and reps share: not much happens in the summer.
This is indeed the case if this period has not been well prepared in the spring.
What needs to be done to prepare for the summer season and maintain sales generating activities during July and August?
1. Review the key performance indicators (KPIs)
Sales managers need to do some planning at the beginning of the year so that their sales representatives can do the activities that will drive good results in the summer quarter.
This planning work must quantify the additional sales activities that must be accomplished in the spring to reach the summer quarter objectives.
For this planning to work, you need to adjust the performance indicators that predict future results:
- Volume of prospecting activities (referral requests, introductions, outbound campaign...)
- Number of first base meetings with new prospects
- Progression through the sales pipeline (speed of movement from one stage to the next)
Overall, the goal is to maintain a healthy sales pipeline in the spring in order to avoid a significant sales dip in the 3rd quarter.
2. Increase prospecting efforts
Between May and mid-June, the activity that reps should focus on is prospecting, in order to fill the pipeline as much as possible (with quality opportunities) and have a decent level of activity during the summer.
Summer is the time to work opportunities that are already in the sales pipeline.
The sales slump phenomenon also occurs at the beginning of each calendar year. Which reps are busy when they return in January? They are the ones that have filled their pipeline in November and December.
By going into the summer season with a good sales pipeline, reps can rectify the season's drop in activity.
- The prospecting activities to focus on are:
- Requests for referrals from customers and partners
- Introduction requests
- Outbound prospecting campaigns via LinkedIn (with an automation application like WeConnect for example)
- Social selling activities
Download the free pipeline and sales activity calculator to properly evaluate the volume of activities to be performed.
3. Use video to sell
No one can ignore the impact of video on sales today. There is actually an opportunity cost to not using the power of video to sell.
As David Meerman Scott says, "people unconsciously bond with they see on screens and on-stage because of mirror neurons. This helps to explain why we feel that we "know" movie stars and television personalities. Our brain tells us that we've been in their personal space because of the feeling of proximity to them as we are seeing them up on the screen."
While it can be difficult to reach potential customers through traditional channels such as phone or email, video brings a new lever.
Obviously, it's important to focus on personalized videos. It's a quick and easy way to offer prospects perspectives or show them a glimpse of the solutions you offer.
Be sure to consistently add a call to action at the end of the video so you can move the conversation forward.
Benefits of video to sell:
- Productivity gains - making a one-minute video can take as little as one minute 😊
- Preferred medium of communication for many people
- Better performance: higher open rate than just an email
- Recipient behavior data: percentage of the video watched
4. Attend events
Although organizing events is the responsibility of the marketing department, sales managers and representatives can initiate this initiative.
Today, webinars and virtual conferences are a very effective way to generate leads and visibility. This type of activity has the advantage of requiring a lower level of organization and investment than in-person events.
Planning an event in May or early June helps feed the pipeline for the summer.
On the other hand, with the return of in-person events, it's time to attend events in your industry and build new relationships.
5. Add value and improve the sales approach
If you want to see a significant impact on sales, even during summer, start identifying the things your sales team needs to improve.
From the first interaction with a prospect, the approach used has a big impact on the rest of the sales process. Adding value to sales conversations means several things:
1. Make prospects understand why they should listen to you
To do this, use a positioning statement instead of asking qualifying questions.
The 3 key elements to build your positioning statement are:
- Social recognition: the category of people you work with (e.g. business leaders, CFO, ...)
- Emotion: include an emotion often experienced by your clients when faced with a problem (e.g. frustrated, discouraged, stressed, overwhelmed...)
- Problems: mention the typical problems customers have before doing business with you
2. Collect information instead of giving it
Even if it is easy to present the company's products or services, it is more effective to understand the potential client's situation through questions that allow you to bring them to a deeper level of reflection.
This is one of the keys to differentiating yourself from the competition. Very few sales reps are able to have conversations that really put the prospect and their issues at the heart of the discussion.
3. Add value to conversations
Value is too often confused with the amount of information that is given to prospects.
To prospects, value is more often found in the questions they are asked, provided they are relevant and 'hard'. Hard questions are those that no competitor will ask and make the prospect think about their situation in a new way.
If you haven't already done so, review your sales team's priorities and focus on prospecting.
Remember that your best weapon is to maintain or even increase paid activities to arrive at the start of summer with a sufficiently full sales pipeline.
Above all, make sure you keep a metronome-like regularity, even during the summer months that seem less busy.
Use the activity calculator to set expectations and track your team's progress.