December and January – two months in the business world that we either love or hate. We love it when clients decide that they ‘must get XYZ’ done before Christmas and inundate us with work. But we hate it when clients go on leave for a month (or two), no work needs doing, and no decisions get made.
While the first one presents its own challenges for resourcing, it’s a nice problem to have. The second one though can get business owners and managers nervous about their revenue and backlog, and how they’re going to keep their staff busy during a potentially quiet time.
Here are 4 ideas from me on how you can quickly generate some sales when you’re having a slow month:
1. Do some BD
People always complain that they don’t have enough time to do BD. Well, now they can’t make any excuses. If your team are having a slow month, set them some clear BD tasks to undertake rather than setting them to work on those long talked about internal projects.
Use this time to make sure that the future is very busy. Maybe re-invigorate or define your key client strategy, maybe get the teams aligned with specific client strategies for next year, maybe start sending out meeting invitations. Even if any meetings don’t happen until after the quiet period, at least next year will get off to a flying start. Waiting until the new year to start the process delays everything by a couple of months.
If you have a genuine partner relationship with a client (you can test that by using our free www.intimasee.com meeting assessment tool), then they know it’s just as important for you to be in business for them as it is for them to be in business for you.
As such, your relationship should be strong enough for you to call your client and ask them if they have any work that needs doing before Christmas or in the quiet January period. Let them know that your workload is a bit light on with a lot of your clients going on leave, that you have some spare capacity, and as a valued client – would they like to make use of some of it?
3. Offer something for free
Now, everyone who knows me will know that I don’t condone discounting – after all, one of my most popular all-time blog posts is about what to do when you’re asked for a discount (i.e. don’t do it). But the same strategy that I shared in that article is a strategy you can use to try and get some work when times are a bit tough.
1. Select a handful of clients you consider you have a pretty good working relationship with, and clients who you have worked with fairly recently so the contact won’t come totally ‘out of the blue’.
2. Call or email them and let them know that the team have some last minute capacity available, and would they like to access any of it? If they are a client you have worked with recently, perhaps you even know of some work they need done, or can remember them mentioning another project they want to get started on. Make sure you refer to this work specifically.
3. Don’t discount – but offer them something for free. Give them more for less, so they are effectively getting a discount, but you are not setting a new price point in their mind for your services. Maybe it can be a bonus audit, or an extra report or a guaranteed super-fast turnaround time. Perhaps it could be delayed invoicing so they don’t need to pay right way. Whatever it is, you need to work out what kind of bonus they would value.
4. Make sure you set a time limit on the offer so they know this isn’t something they can try to take up in a few months’ time.
4. Show your face
There is never a better time to network than at Christmas – there are so many functions and events on, there is never a shortage of opportunities to choose from. Just yesterday a client was telling me that they went to a networking event last week, saw some clients they hadn’t seen in a while, and the next day got a request for proposal in the door which they have since converted. So – get out there and show your face, you never know who you might bump into, or what urgent work they might need doing before Christmas. Just make sure that your conversations at the event give the client far more value than a mince pie.
What’s most critical when you’re having a slow month (or two) is not to get desperate and resort to discounting, or make ‘desperate’ sales calls to people you have never worked with. While you might get some short term work in the door, you are setting yourself up for a world of future pain – a world where your clients know they can get you for cheap, and a world where your business is founded on technical relationships where the cheapest price becomes the main differentiator.