I’m convinced that Nat King Cole moonlighted in sales. There is no other way to explain how he could so perfectly perform a song that so accurately describes the mindset of the sales department come July 1. That’s the day “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” (music by Hans Carste and lyrics by Charles Tobias) kick into gear.
In North America, our state of mind does a 180-degree turn once the kids pile out of school for summer holidays. People seem to expect less and feel justified to work less. Too many sales reps think that when customers are easing back it’s OK for them to follow suit. Why work on Friday afternoons when no one else does?
This can be a serious problem for your company. Your bottom line doesn’t take July and August off and neither should your salespeople. Two months represent 17% of the calendar year. In a business with razor-thin margins no one can afford to pay sales reps to fill their baskets full of sandwiches and weenies, lock up the house and head down to the beach. Every sales team needs a fresh approach during this perceived downtime. Consider these ideas for turning “those days of soda and pretzels and beer” into opportunities:
Close your deals
Every pending deal loses momentum over the summer. The commitment you get in May is a distant memory come September if you don’t get that new business on your trucks before vacation season. Close those deals 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 lowering 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.
Filling the sales funnel with prospects is a lot harder in the summer. It takes three times the effort to get the same results. Networking is almost non-existent 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 see it for three weeks.
That doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Summer is all about getting creative and finding new ways to get the job done.
Try networking with other influencers within 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 at home. I know first-hand as I have three kids who attend university out of town. When this tsunami hits the house at the start of summer break, it washes away any hope I have 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. The house is not one of them!
Invest in you
Very few of us spend enough time investing in ourselves.
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, by Harvey MacKay), learn a new app, or update your online presence. My big project this summer is to switch my mobile device from the comfort of Blackberry to Apple. I know it’s going to take time, so I figure I might as well take advantage of my three iPhone experts being home for the summer.
Summer is a great time to take a vacation but don’t take a holiday while you’re at work. Come September, with a productive summer of selling under your belt, hopefully, “You’ll wish that summer could always be here.” Just like Nat!
Mike McCarron is the president of Left Lane Associates, a firm that specializes in the “monetizing” of transportation companies. A 30-year industry veteran, he founded MSM Transportation which he sold in 2012. Mike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 416-931-7212. Follow him on Twitter: @AceMcC All posts by Mike McCarron