Keep the heat on for summer sales efforts

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Don’t let the “It’s summer” excuse slow down your sales efforts

Eddie” came up to me at a recent sales conference. “Thanks for the great ideas,” he said. “Too bad it’s almost summer.” I knew what he meant, but asked anyway, “What do you mean?” His answer: “That’s our slow season. Everyone’s on vacation and it won’t help to start any new strategies until fall.”
Here’s my question: do procrastinating customers put us off in the summer, or do we do it to ourselves?
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about selling. Everybody’s in meetings on Mondays, everybody leaves early on Fridays and (unless you’re retailing snowthrowers) summer slows down because of vacations. The truth is, summer is a great time to do business. If it weren’t, pent-up sales would make September 400% greater than any other month.
If you stop “selling,” or too readily accept “waiting until Labor Day” as an excuse, prospects cool off, budgets are diverted and competitors cash in.
Before you bite into that trap this summer, here’s some food for thought. Expect resistance from some customers. Some will have valid reasons. Plan accordingly, and be prepared with solutions that make sense for them now. A problem they have today could be three months greater if put off.
Start by probing a little deeper. Ask questions like “Is summertime a problem?” “Why is fall a better time?” or “Couldn’t you have a competitive advantage if we take action now?” The answers will often include staff vacations and suspended company meetings. Decisions are still being made, but yours may not be pre-positioned as a priority. Identify the urgency of your product or service by asking, “Aside from that, how do you feel about the plan?” Their put-off may be just a sign that there are unanswered questions or concerns.
Another course of action is to increase, rather than decrease, your activity. Sure, some customers have valid reasons to wait, but they don’t represent everyone. Somebody’s always in the market to buy.
It’s easy to get caught up in the myths and misconceptions of doing business. The pros are the ones who look at obstacles as challenges to be beaten, then take the action, and the risks, to overcome them.
Summer is a great time of year. My personal favorite. It’s also a great time to sell, no matter what anybody tells you.
Joe Guertin is president of Joseph Guertin & Associates, an Oak Creek-based speaking, training and coaching firm. Your comments are invited at 762-2450, or at
Ten Tips
… for hot sales in the
1 Plan ahead
Set lofty summertime goals for yourself
2 Give prospects a reason to buy
Be creative and use special packages
3 Expect summer resistance
Be prepared to probe their reasoning
4 Use positive positioning
Help buyers see competitive advantages
of avoiding delays
5 Expand your customer base
New business will fill in the gaps
6 Take advantage of summertime activities
Treat clients to outdoor events,
or bring cool refreshments to hot meetings
7 Control your own mind-set
Don’t accept the first few setbacks
as an affirmation
8 Expand your summer business wardrobe People who dress for the weather
spend more time in it
9 Avoid quitters and pessimists
Negative talk rubs off easily
10 Always ask for another reason
The fact that it’s summer should never
be enough
June 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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