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The holidays are coming up, which means Q1 and a fresh new year are right on the horizon – holidays and sales have a strange relationship to each other, meaning you must plan accordingly.

There is no set strategy for managing sales during this time of the year, because each product and sales cycle handles things differently. Insurance, for instance, is particularly busy around this period, as everyone is trying to set up their company for the new year. Other types of accounts will have virtually no volume whatsoever – particularly fields related to outdoor work like landscaping or tourism. Because of this, understanding the nature of your sales cycle, your customer base, and the management in your company is crucial.

Below are three ways to manage holidays and sales to ensure that you are maximizing profit while also being realistic about the nature of the season.

Understand Your Customer’s Vacation Cycle

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, everyone is cashing in on their PTO to see family and take a breather before the new year starts. Some companies will only allow a certain number of PTO hours to be transferred into the new year, so this kind of behavior isn’t unprecedented. Know how your customers schedule is going to look like so that you can get them on the phone.

Call cadences don’t always pay attention to what the schedule on the other end looks like. People don’t always answer around the holidays. This means that email is more crucial as a form of communication than ever. Use whatever means necessary to understand the call schedule of a customer, and arrange accordingly.

Many CRMs such as Salesforce have tools for making notes about a client. This is a great means to log information about a customer such as their demographics. It can also be used to plan around a client’s vacation travel. Take it a step up, and ask them how their trip to sunny Bermuda was. That kind of familiarity and friendliness can go a long ways.

Understand Your Own Vacation Cycle

Odds are, you’re also going to be taking time off. Plan in advance if you are going to be taking something like an entire week off. You’ll likely be coming back to more work rather than less once you return. Voicemails stack up, and coming up with a plan to manage this should come before the PTO is taken.

The type of account that I am on requires that I make certain calls before a period of time has elapsed. Thankfully, systems and reports are built into Salesforce to manage these time constraints. This gives me the means to plan in advance how I will tackle my work before leaving the office. The two crucial things that I use for my account is the report that tells me how close to the deadline some of the calls I need to make are, and a Follow Up call feature. This feature often isn’t enough for me, however. I also utilize Outlook which gives me a more direct alert that pops up and makes a noise.

Understand how your CRM allows you to visualize your data. Use these tools to structure your work in a meaningful way.

Holidays and Sales Requires Open Communication

Most salespeople have to answer to somebody, and openly communicating holiday shifts is critical for staying on top of work. If you have sales goals that need to be made every month and there is a dip, communicate this information. Part of the work that we do requires us to communicate trends to our clients. Not only can this kind of granular sales data be helpful, it can also save you if you’re not hitting numbers.

Say, for instance, a client comes to us with a new product to sell that has never been sold before. Their understanding of the need for the product might not match with the holiday schedule of new business. It isn’t uncommon for new business to begin at the start of Q1, but there can sometimes be a lull before that kicks off in December. This information can be valuable to the client – make sure it is communicated.

Conclusions on Holidays and Sales

December can be a strange month for sales. In retail and service, it means that sales are going through the roof. These people are working tirelessly until the holidays are over. In other types of sales, such as outsourced b2b sales services, this can be a lull in the process. Understand your product, your customers, and your goals. Once these needs have been assessed, implement a strategy so you can enjoy your time off.