Even in downturns, people do much the same thing, just maybe a little less expensively. And, like death and taxes, summer vacations are a certainty.  If they’re not on vacation, summer is a time when many people slip out of the office early to attend to...ugh, more important matters.  What’s a salesperson to do?  This week we will discuss techniques you can use to maintain if not a blistering summer sales pace, at least a productive one.

Recognition that people are going to be harder to reach is a first step.  Change your expectations and plan accordingly.  An advance dose of pessimism can go a long way toward helping you control the situation.  When you talk to a client or a prospect, assume there will be distractions.  Ask for firm follow-up times and verify there are no conflicts on that date.  If the responses you need are important to you, make sure Friday is not one of those dates.  Many, many people develop pressing engagements on Friday’s during the summer.  Be more aggressive about finding out who is involved in the decision making process.  Who does your prospect have to link up with?  Often problems come not with your own contact, but with the people he must talk to.  It’s certainly not inappropriate to remind your prospect that in the midst of the summer season, it might be a little more difficult to reach his people and therefore it might make sense for him to make contact as early as possible.

Your customers and prospects might also be shifting hours this summer.  We know of many people who start work earlier in the summer and commensurately quit earlier in the day.  People you may have reached at end of day might now be reachable only first thing in the morning.  If you make calls to customers at the office traditionally at 9:00, you might consider delaying leaving home at the regular time in favor of making calls at 7:30 to 8:30 at home.  Hey!  Whatever works, right?

There’s a flip side to this as well.  Customers and prospects may be trying to reach you unsuccessfully too!  Yes, salespeople catch the same bug as their clients and have the same proclivities.  We don’t want to be a killjoy, but what have you done to assure yourself the competition does not get the sale when you can’t be found?  Don’t be guilty of the same problem you might be facing on the other side! 

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too… up to a point.  You can take a vacation, leave early, or otherwise malinger from time to time this summer, if you plan for it.  Many salespeople are essentially middlemen, who see themselves as working for their employer first and their customers second.  Keeping this in mind, a good summertime salesperson will pay special attention to his company’s situation first.  Perhaps your company has estimators or credit managers or certain somebodies, who must approve, price, accept or sign-off on a transaction.  Will they be available to button up that deal you’ve been working on?  Keeping track of your own players becomes another duty to keep in mind. 

Now, let’s turn to what I call the summertime advantage.  Don’t we always like to see a ray of hope in an otherwise negative situation?  Yes, keeping sales flowing in the summer can be more work, but guess what?  What are your competitor’s sales people doing this summer?  Chances are they are on vacation or gone fishing!  Exploit the slower response that is coming from the competition and have your company stand out.  If the other fellow does not have his first team in and you do, your chances of success are increased just that much more.  Mistakes in customer service increase during the summer and right before Christmas.  For whatever reason, the effectiveness of people might not be quite what it normally is.  In my experience, you need every edge you can get.  Tightening up on your sales cycle will enhance your professionalism in the eyes of your prospect.  Show them a lot of action and request a matching response on the prospect’s part.  If the prospect is talking to your competitors (as he probably is) the response is not likely to be as sharp or as quick as is normal.  Again, this makes you stand out.  This is another way you can show prospects and clients you want their business.  You might even be so bold as to ask the prospect how hard the competition is working.  This has the salutatory effect of reminding the client he’s important.  Everyone needs to feel important, don’t they?

The “Endless Summer” does indeed come to an end each year.  Some of the worst workaholics I know are salespeople.  Given that each of us only gets so many summers to enjoy, don't be a summer scrooge and forget family, friends and least of all yourself.  Enjoy this season to the fullest with just a little extra planning.

Good Selling!

 

Allan Feifer is the President of DEC International. Allan started DEC more than 35 years ago and has background in the process and construction industries as well as many years as a recognized authority on construction trends and analysis. Allan lives in Florida with his wife and two cats. You can reach him at allanf@dec-international.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .