By Bill Bartlett
I was sitting in a coffee shop reading a book in early November when I overheard two salespeople talking about the current state of their business. One was explaining to the other that he looked forward to this time of year because all his customers were out of money and all of his prospects were going to wait until next year to purchase.
He went on to say that his boss fully understood that, “no one buys this time of year so he should just visit his customers and thank them for their business.” He concluded with the exclamation that he could “kick back” and enjoy the holidays like everyone else. I couldn’t help think that this salesperson was pioneering the ten month sales year.
I, too, experienced the same phenomenon during the first two months that I was in business in 1994. I began making my sales calls in November and December and heard the same stories about waiting until next year. With no prior experiences to draw from, the voices in my head said “makes sense to me” so I prepared for the onslaught of business in the coming January.
I attended a conference in January of 1995 where I spent time with fellow Sandler trainers. When they were asked about the state of my newly formed business, I exclaimed that I started my business at the wrong time of year since no one buys training in November and December.
My peers proclaimed that they had record sales in the same two months that I sold nothing. What was the difference? Further examination showed that the difference was my belief that the prospects were telling me the truth and my peers continued to ask questions that developed what we at Sandler call PAIN. I never made that grave mistake again and have had record sales each November and December in the 14 years since.
What a wonderful time of year! In this jolly stretch, when joy is in the air, we sense peace all around us. We greet each other warmly with happy tones in our voices that are saved for “the holidays.” Festive trees are being decorated, music is in the air, houses are lighted and everyone is settling into their holiday routines.
The stores are filled with shoppers, most with elevated anxiety, who are busily trying to buy gifts for the ones they love or the ones they must in order to fulfill a holiday obligation. As Christmas approaches, the calm, peaceful, joy-filled air turns to the frenetic, “let’s just get this done so we can get to the New Year.”
This not-so-subtle change in feelings creates a difficult quandary for the high performing sales person who is trying to fulfill a business mission by meeting with prospects to sell products and services.
You see, prospects do enter into a psychological state I like to call the “holiday slide” where they try to delay all purchases until the New Year because budgets have disappeared or the just want to enjoy the holidays without dealing with annoying salespeople! The problem is, all salespeople have quotas to meet, and the November 1st to December 31st timeframe is a prime time to finish the year strong.
Let me give you a few suggestions on the things you can do to avoid the holiday slide:
Check your belief system. If you believe that no one buys in this timeframe than you’re the problem, not your prospects
Revisit your commitment to success. If you have conditional commitment to success then you will buy in to the excuses that prospects tell you.
Stop using features and benefits to convince your prospects. Prospects never buy features and benefits unless they fit their PAIN, or compelling reason to buy. Stop selling intellectually and connect with your prospects emotionally.
Set goals for the November and December timeframe. If your only goal is to get through this period of time then you will achieve it. Set specific sales goals and raise the number of face-to-faces you have each week.
Find an accountability partner. If you have a weak belief system you should partner with someone who has a stronger one. Stop commiserating with losers.
Check your spine. If your spine is weaker than it should be, your prospects will always win. Stiffen your spine and realize that someone is getting rich in this timeframe–why not you?!
I want to close with a holiday wish for each of you who have read this column and sent me emails with your successes. I wish you health, happiness and good fortune in the New Year
Bill Bartlett is the president of Corporate Strategies & Solutions, a Sandler Training Center in Naperville, Illinois.