Selling in November and December…the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

“Nobody is buying anything this time of year,” a fellow account executive said to me many years ago as he asked me to meet him at the mall to help him find a Christmas present for his girlfriend.

“I think I’ll stay here and get a couple things done. Maybe I can meet you a little later,” was my response, as I stayed in the office and made a few more phone calls to clients and prospects.

Let me set the scene here. This was not a conversation that took place between two seasoned account executives, but rather between two kids just starting out in the sales world. While I think I always have had a good work ethic, my reason for not going to the mall had more to do at the time with a fear that our boss would catch us at the mall goofing off than it did a desire to make 100 more cold calls the week after Thanksgiving. What happened next changed how I looked at selling in November and December forever. 

Many account executives, much like my old colleague, look at November and December like this:

  • “Nobody has any budget left”
  • “This is the time when we thank our clients for business, not look for new business”
  • “Everyone I talk to is taking time off”
  • “I’ve spent 11 months knocking on doors. It’s getting cold and snowy out there, I deserve a break”
  • “I’ve already made my quota for the year…why not enjoy the holidays?”

For those of you who know me, you know how I feel about the holidays, so that last excuse about enjoying the holidays really gets under my skin. I am a huge fan of the holiday season and spend many an hour decorating my house to look like something out of Christmas Vacation, planning an annual holiday party/Toys for Tots drive, and picking out presents for friends and family; yet somehow I have still found time to do that and also do my job.

Too many salespeople use the holiday season not to work, and they are missing the boat. For me, the holiday season is the best time to sell because while others are working on their excuses not to sell, I’m out building and strengthening relationships.

So what happened the day I stayed in the office to make more calls?

This was back when I was selling temporary IT staffing. One of my clients at the time was Warner Lambert, which is now part of Pfizer. We used to provide them with help desk, desktop support, and network specialists. Many times they would use one of our guys to fill in when someone was on vacation or if they had a big roll out to do. As my relationship with the decision makers I worked with grew, I eventually worked with them to bring in new employees. They would work as a “temp” for six months as our employee before Warner Lambert would hire them on as permanent staff members. On this day, I was reaching out to my contacts there, scheduling the end of year “thank you” lunch and discussing their plans for the next year so we could be sure to continue to provide them with what they needed. I called Chris Uminowicz, one of the network support managers I worked with and he asked me, “Hey Rich, you guys do desktop training too, right?”

While this particular service was on our brochure, it is not one that I had personally had much luck in selling to this point. “Sure, Chris, we have some great trainers,” was my reply, as I hoped our database had one or two people in it to be able to help them out. “Why do you ask?”

“One of the sales managers asked me,” replied Chris. “I think they want to train some of the salespeople on using their laptops more effectively,” as he gave me the name of the sales manager to call. I guess my trip to the mall would have to wait a few more minutes as I called the sales manager.

The result of that call was that we did get to bring the trainers—15 total—in to train their salesforce on some new software they had developed to generate proposals. Each of those trainers worked for over four weeks, minimum 40 hours a week, at a bill rate of well over $100/hr. (at a time when our average bill rate was about $40/hr.) Because of the great success of the project, they decided to do this project in mid-December every year. Talk about writing your own Christmas bonus!

My point is simply this; it has been said by many that 90% of success is just showing up. This is extremely evident in November and December. While your competition is out buying Christmas presents for their significant other mid-day in December, stay focused on task. Call your clients to thank them for their confidence in you to allow you to help them throughout the year, but also ask them about their plans for January and the coming year. Call those prospects that you’ve been trying to reach all year and wish them a happy holiday season. Ask them what their plan is for the new year. Chances are their current supplier hasn’t asked and won’t until he gets back from the mall sometime after January 2nd. While you will be hitting the ground running with at least a month’s head start, he will be sputtering out of the gate, shaking off the cobwebs from a month of drinking eggnog and eating Christmas cookies.

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6 Responses to “Selling in November and December…the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

  1. Chris Uminowicz Says:

    My name is Chris Uminowicz, and I approve this message. 😉

    It has been a great pleasure to know, and rely on, Rich Burghgraef.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Hitting the Dog Days of August…I hope you aren’t dogging it! « Randolph Sterling Inc. Says:

    […] to go for growth, many of which will lead to a fall of “there is no business” followed by a Christmas season of “nobody’s buying”—and, for those of you who know me, you know how I feel about that […]

  3. It’s Getting to Be Budget Time « Randolph Sterling 2.0 Says:

    […] For too many short sighted salespeople these two things seem to be working in opposition. They want to sell more in hopes of making their quota, but find themselves blocked by decision makers who seem to be not concerned about today, but are looking to the next year and what they want to get accomplished. Salespeople who don’t see the opportunity in this often are also the ones who, a month from now, will start to say that “nobody is buying anything” and will start doing their Christmas shopping instead of going to see clients. The professional salesperson, on the other hand, does see the opportunity and, not only has a strong end to the year, but also starts off the new year strong  (For more information on this, see my article “Selling in November and December…The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”). […]

  4. Happy Thanksgiving Month to Everyone!!! « Randolph Sterling 2.0 Says:

    […] When your competition is worried about getting wet in a rainstorm, or, at this time of year, is going Christmas shopping rather than seeing people, and you are the one who is still out there knocking on doors…you will be remembered. I’ve had […]

  5. Integrating Your Sales and Marketing Efforts for the Best Results « Hot Sales Strategies Says:

    […] trying to meet their annual quota, as well as building and strengthening relationships during the holiday season, and clients are working on their budgets. As I wrote that article, I was reminded of a […]

  6. Welcome 2011, A Year to Work Smarter and Grow the Right Way! « Randolph Sterling 2.0 Says:

    […] 2011, A Year to Work Smarter and Grow the Right Way! Since most of my November and December articles talk about how you shouldn’t stop your sales efforts during the “holiday months” […]

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