Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

How Your Sales Team Can Weather the Holiday Rush

November 28, 2014
By ContactCenterSolutionsWorld Special Guest
Bethany Ayers, SVP Strategy, NewVoiceMedia -

Need your sales team to stay on top during the busiest time of year? Here’s how to weather the holiday rush.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas so close together, the last weeks of the year can be hectic. Work feels like it’s squeezed between family get-togethers, holiday shopping and last-minute parties – both for your customers and your team.


It’s not surprising that the holiday season can be a challenging time for sales teams – with targets to meet, less time and many taking family vacations. Plus, there’s the added problem that it’s harder to connect with your prospects since they are spending less time in the office too!

But it’s not all doom and gloom. It may be busy and stressful, but there are plenty of opportunities out there – and the promise of a well-earned rest at the end of it.

Here’s how you can weather the holiday rush and make the most of what the season has to offer.

Make each day count

First, consider how much time you have. Once you work out how many days you have off, consider this to an estimate of how many days your prospects will have off and you’re left with a good idea of what the quarter will really look like.

Remember to factor in that many of the decision-makers you need to close will be on staggered holiday from late November until mid January.

However, you can get your holiday season off to a good start. The days around Thanksgiving can be a great time to reach the key figures in businesses that you’ve been trying to get hold of for months; with support staff on vacation, you can often get hold of a senior decision-maker easily. Plus, there’s less competition, as other sales teams are likely to be on break.

After Thanksgiving, evaluate your pipeline again and plan what actions you need to take before Christmas gets into full swing.

Focus on quality, not quantity

It’s easy to get a pre-holiday desperation: you just want to close as much as possible. Trying to boost sales at the end of the year in an unfocused frenzy can be damaging.

Instead, review your pipeline and then make appointments, send small gifts and engage through social media with your most important prospects - focus on closing those high value relationships. This is also an opportunity to test out your social selling techniques. Engage with your top prospects through Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. on fun holiday topics or industry insights – nudging prospects with a friendly social reminder that you would love to connect.

Once you’ve got your list of targets, it’s time to guide them through to signing on the dotted line. They may be in a holiday panic themselves, or they may be in ‘Christmas denial’ and still think they’ve got plenty of time to decide. It’s your job to figure out what’s going on in their head. Start by asking what they need to make this purchase before the end of the year – and whether all the stakeholders share their view.

Whatever the outcome, ask what needs to happen before they’ll be ready to close the deal, so  you account map effectively. . Set a date for when this should all be in place – no later than the first week of December – to allow for inevitable delays.

Some prospects need to spend their budgets before the end of the year while others may want to postpone discussions until after the holidays. If, after persuasion, they still aren’t eager, it’s better to push that deal to one side and concentrate on prospects that are ready to close.

Work smart from anywhere

Productivity should be every sales team’s aim all year round, but this is especially true of the last quarter. There simply isn’t time to waste.

It’s important not to get sloppy when Christmas approaches. Review your pipeline and ensure your CRM accounts are up-to-date with every new lead and every client’s accurate pipeline position.

This is not only because accurate forecasting is crucial during this festive period, but also because you want to start the New Year knowing exactly where you left off last year.

During busy periods automatically tracking your communications with each prospect through your CRM (via your mobile device or in the office) will save you time later since every prospect and customer conversation is stored on the contact record. Easily recall each engagement by using a CRM integrated tool such as ContactWorld for Sales and Marketing. Calling and tracking your calls through your smartphone delivers new productivity benefits during the crazy holiday rush.

Seize the holiday opportunities

Along with the challenges the holiday season throws your way, there are also plenty of opportunities. It can be easy to slow down your sales efforts (particularly if you’ve already met your targets), but here are three reasons why you should keep on selling:

  1. Other sales reps are taking it easy – many teams simply get into the holiday spirit a little too early and have virtually stopped working by mid-December. It’s easy to do, but if you can avoid the temptation, you can continue to make sales while the competition is slowing down. 
  2. A ‘use it or lose it’ approach to budget in many small companies means your prospects might be desperate to close a sale before Christmas. Move away from “feature” selling and show the value that your product or service delivers is right for them, making your job of ‘selling’ a whole lot easier. 
  3. Small-talk flows easily in the holiday season – so use this to your advantage. Prospects are likely to be in a happier frame of mind, giving you the opportunity to build a better rapport; talk or email with them  about their plans for Thanksgiving or what they’re buying their kids for Christmas. This might lead to them giving you a little extra time on the phone or agree to a meeting, or will just help them remember you in the future.

Don’t forget to plan for 2015

Before you leave the office, make sure you’ve set yourself up for a good start in 2015.

Every year has its share of successes and failures, so reflect on what’s worked for you and set yourself targets for next year.

How many calls did it take before you got a meeting? And how many meetings resulted in a sale? Evaluate your personal stats and see how you could better them next year.

If you don’t plan ahead, you could waste the first quarter of next year reflecting on the year that’s been and gone.

 

Bethany Ayers has over 13 years’ technology experience, having worked with IBM, Computacenter, Getronics and Mimecast, one of Europe’s fastest growing companies. She joined NewVoiceMedia in 2010 and heads up strategy, product marketing, partnerships and sales operations, turning insight into results to develop and rapidly expand the business.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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