I’m convinced that Nat King Cole moonlighted in sales.
There is no other way to explain how he could write a song that describes the mind-set of the sales department come July 1. That’s the day “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” kick into gear.
In North America, our state of mind does a 180-deg. turn the day the kids pile out of school for the summer. People seem to expect less and feel justified to workless. Too many sales reps think that when customers are easing back, it’s okay for them to follow suit. Why work on Friday afternoons when no one else is?
Your bottom line doesn’t take July and August off. Those two months represent 17 of the calendar year. In a business with razor-thin margins, no one can afford to pay sales reps to make puppies all summer.
Every sales team needs to take a different approach during this perceived down-time. Consider these ideas for turning “those days of soda and pretzels and beer” into opportunities:
Close the Deal
The commitment you get now is a distant memory come September if you don’t get that new business on your trucks before vacation season. Close now or you might as well add May and June to your list of wasted sales months.
Don’t Fight It
The good news is Nat King Cole Syndrome also affects your competitors. A lot of their reps are more worried about reducing their golf handicaps than increasing their prospects. Out-think and out-work your competitors now and you can salvage one-sixth of your yearly sales cycle.
In the summer, networking is almost nonexistent, as every business club and association on the planet shuts down. Trying to get people on the phone is virtually impossible, and there’s no point leaving a message for someone who won’t get it for three weeks.
That doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel Try networking with other influencers of your customers. How about doing research on prospects that fit your company’s sweet spot for follow-up in the fall? Personally, I use the summer to hook up with old buddies and soak them for as many referrals as I can. Sometimes I even twist their arm and do it on the links!
Your expectations aren’t the only thing that will change on July 1. If you have children, so will the decibel level in your house. I know first-hand as I have three kids who attend university out of town. When this tsunami hits the house for summer break, it washes away any hope of accomplishing anything from my home office. If you have sales reps who work from home, make sure they have a place to work where they can be productive, their house is not one of them!
Invest in You
Spend time investing in yourself. Every summer I spend time working on my brand and improving myself. Read a sales book (try Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive) , learn a new app, or update your online presence. My big project is to switch my mobile device from the comfort of BlackBerry to Apple. I might as well take advantage of my three iPhone experts being home for the summer.
Come September, with a productive summer under your belt, hopefully “You’ll wish that summer could always be here.” Just like Nat!Mike McCarron was one of the founding ‘M’s in MS Transportation before the company was purchased by the Wheels Group. Based in Toronto, he currently works for Wheels in mergers and acquisitions and can he reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mike on Twitter@AceMcC.