It feels like everyone's on vacation, budgets are already spent, and no one is picking up their phone — let alone buying from you.
Throw in a global pandemic and it’s frustrating, to say the least. But you can’t “check out” just yet.
You have to keep doing what you do best: prospecting, building pipeline, nurturing relationships, establishing new connections, having great conversations, and asking thoughtful questions.
During this time of year, especially in the midst of COVID-19, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or get distracted and to lose focus on what you should be doing now to close out the year and set yourself up for success in the new one.
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You’ve got to use your time wisely, balancing your sales activities between your short and long term goals.
In the short term, you want a sale to close today, but in the long term, you still need to fill your pipeline with opportunities that will eventually close.
We’ve got five tips to help you squeeze out that last little bit of motivation so you can end the year on a high note and fully enjoy that much-needed and well-deserved time off:
1. Keep prospecting to schedule January appointments now
Believe it or not, December is a great time for prospecting.
Many buyers have the time and desire to set an appointment because they are looking for ideas and solutions to help them make a difference in their business for the coming year.
Ideally, you’d want to set the appointment for a day and time in December so you can get the conversation started but if you’re unable to get your prospect to agree, the next best thing is to schedule the meeting for the first few weeks of January.
Try this: Pick up the phone. Your prospects are inundated with emails, so why would you want to add to the inbox clutter?
You want to stand out. One of the best ways of doing that is to pick up the phone and make a call. If they answer, ask for the appointment. If it goes to voicemail, leave a very short message that references one benefit your solution will provide for them. It’s your chance to remind prospects to include you in their plan for next year.
Continuing your prospecting and outreach efforts throughout the month of December will help kickstart your pipeline and put you in a much stronger sales position for the first quarter.
2. Revisit stalled opportunities with a new deal or counter-offer
Take a look at your sales pipeline, specifically opportunities with 50% or better chances of closing — can any still be won?
Let’s say you’re revisiting an opportunity that’s sitting in your pipeline at 50%, which means you’re waiting for a yes/no decision. Think back to the last conversation you had with this prospect. Did they mention anything that you could use to adjust the proposal or make a more compelling counter-offer?
There’s a reason this opportunity is in your pipeline. You targeted it. You qualified it. You moved it forward. And at some point, the prospect thought it was a good idea too. They believed your product or service could provide value to their business.
Don’t give up so easily!
Try this: Add a deal “sweetener” to encourage the prospect to move forward this month. If you’re selling a software solution, you could offer to add a few extra “seats” to their license or give them access, at no cost, to an additional service they were interested in but couldn’t fit in their budget.
If you’re selling a service, consider breaking your original proposal into two parts and suggesting that you deliver the service in a phase one-phase two approach.
Whatever it is you’re selling, the idea is to go back to your prospect and present something different or position something of added value to get the prospect to take action today.
3. Focus on nurturing current leads with personalized messaging
Taking the time to personalize outreach is important any time of year, but it carries even more weight during the holidays.
This year, especially, everyone is craving a little extra human connection and relatability.
The last thing your prospects and customers want is another generic message from a salesperson. They don’t want to see or hear the same old thing. They want to feel special; they want something different.
Use the holidays to channel your inner creativity. Do you have a favorite Christmas song or holiday tradition? Think about how you could incorporate that in your messaging as you nurture current leads.
The video plays into the holiday theme and personalizes parts of the video making you feel like it was created just for you. It’s a fun way to re-engage prospects who have gone dark and will help you stand out from other emails in their inboxes.
Try this: Identify any leads who have engaged with you in the last few months but have fallen by the wayside in favor of higher priorities. Set a goal to identify an X number of those prospects who you would like to target for your December outreach.
Plan to use a mix of communication channels like: email, phone, or LinkedIn. You may even want to try to record your own personalized video (using a tool like Vidyard or Soapbox).
In your message, bring up something that’s both timely and relevant like end-of-year budgeting or trends going into the new year. You could also reference something they’ve expressed interest in from previous conversations.
The key here is to gather as much information as you can about each of the leads you’re targeting. Look at your CRM, marketing software, past emails, etc. to dig into each lead's history so that you can make sure your messaging is hyper-relevant and personalized.
4. Ask about end-of-year budgeting
Budget and timing are important for buyers, especially in December when yearly budgets are usually spent and most are looking to the new year. How much something costs and when it will get done are key factors driving the decisions related to any type of project or initiative.
As a B2B sales pro, you can use the end of the year as an opportunity to ask about any remaining budget that needs to be spent and the buyer’s timeline for implementation and results.
Done right, it will give you an advantage and create urgency in your prospects, but you have to be prepared.
Try this: Do your homework. If it’s an existing customer, make time to understand the history of the account and past buying behavior. Specifically, look at what type of budget they have. Fiscal? Incremental? Project-based? If it’s a new opportunity, plan and practice your questions in advance.
Focus on budget, but also ask about their personal and business motivation for potentially buying a solution like yours. In either case, you need to have options for different budget levels prepared, so when they give you a number, you can show them how your product, service, or solution fits perfectly.
The CEO. A product engineer. Someone from support. The VP of Sales. Your manager. Someone from your customer success team. A happy customer. One of your company’s investors...you get the point.
Buyers are very critical of sales professionals and tend to distrust them. So when it comes to getting an end-of-the-year sale, or any sale for that matter, you can’t exactly try harder to convince the prospect. You’ll look desperate and it will make the buyer distrust you even more.
Bringing in someone else as “social proof” can help reassure the buyer they’re not being tricked and demonstrates that you’ve got an entire company and team that stands behind you and supports the solution you’re selling.
Try this: Not sure how to ask for help? Or if the other person will agree? Make it easy for them.
Simply say: “This opportunity needs a little nudge. Can you help me?” Then, send them an email that contains a brief summary of the opportunity and any other important details that will help provide a little context.
You’ll also want to include the actual message you want the other person to send. This way, it’s ready-to-send and all they need to do is copy-paste and click send.
Selling is truly a team effort. Working together builds better communication and helps deliver stronger results.
‘Tis the season!
To get out there and give one (or all) of these tips a try!
December is a time when many decision-makers take the time to really assess how they are currently running their business or department. They’re already thinking about making certain changes or setting new initiatives into motion.
Use your time now to prospect for new leads while engaging and nurturing your current leads. Making contact at just the right time could lead to something good, a new deal, or at the very least a new appointment to give your pipeline a jumpstart for January.