(Inspired by Jeffrey Gitomer.)
"Call me after the New Year." AHHHHHHH!
Whether you're a top-performing salesperson shooting for #1, or you're behind on your numbers and fighting for your sales life, making sales calls during the holidays can be tough.
Your clients and prospects, who are not good at making decisions in the first place, use the holidays as a convenient excuse to blow you off with these sales objections so as to not move forward because we all fear change.
What's really going to change after we spend 38 days:
- traveling, eating, and watching football?
- pretending to be excited to see 23 people we wish could only see once a DECADE?
- looking for AA batteries?
- hiding from kids armed with too many toys powered by those AA batteries?
- making another New Year's resolution we know we'll break before the Orange Bowl?
Give me a call after the holidays"
is not an objection.
It's far more insipid.
It's a put-off. A stall. A shunt. An amorphous "think-it-over." A timeout. They're putting you in the corner and will call you if they ever need you.
These types of stalls are DEATH to salespeople for many reasons, including...
Time kills deals!
There are 1,001 things that can happen between now and "after the new year," such as:
- Budgets get cut,
- layoffs and reorganizations happen,
- companies get purchased or sold,
- divisions get merged or split,
- Bitcoin hits an all-time high (or low),
- elections come and go,
- the 497th variant of COVID is announced,
- the 387th COVID booster is mandated,
- your boss gives you a subscription to the jelly-of-the-month club.
Stalls make you dance.
Put-offs make you poke and prod to uncover the truth because you cannot proceed until the truth is uncovered.
While it's best to PREVENT the stall from ever rearing its ugly head by following The Sales Agenda, here are a handful (or two handfuls) of tips, witty responses, and clever lines that may actually have you looking forward to the previously-dreaded, "Call me after the New Year."
Soften the beachhead, i.e., send cards and/or gifts and/or invitations to holiday parties…and do it early!
Since at least 2012, I’ve started sending Thanksgiving cards to beat the rush and the crush of the holiday season.
It sets me apart.
It puts me out ahead of my competitors.
It captures the attention of my clients and prospects and just like an artillery barrage softens the beach so the Marines can land safely, a gift and/or invitation to a holiday party/meal makes the recipient more receptive to taking my call or seeing me when I stop by.
Send a real gift like candy or a fruit/cheese/meat basket or a funny gift like a fruitcake and a note like...
The gift that keeps on giving just like when you enroll in this program."
When can we schedule a time to answer your questions and help you invest your end-of-year funds wisely?”
Drop the cat in the punch bowl.
You will forever eliminate “Think It Overs” by taking that away from them right up front with a solid sales agenda.
Easy. You tell the prospect...
If you’re tempted to say you want to think it over is it ok if I take that as you not wanting to hurt my feelings and we can just put you down as a ‘no’?”
Do the same thing here. Ask them...
Are you just trying to be nice and not hurt my feelings or do you really have an interest in our offerings?”
If you get a bunch of “no’s” during this time you’ll know how hard you’ll have to work come January 1st to make your numbers or you’ll have time to start looking for a new job over the Christmas break!
Life’s too short for follow-up calls.
If the answer to #2 is to your liking, press for a firm date and time to speak and/or meet.
One of my tag lines for years has been “Life’s too short for follow-up calls.”
If you simply say “Ok, I’ll call you after the 1st,” that prospect has forgotten you before they hang up.
Endless, hope-filled follow-ups are deadly because they are one-sided “appointments” that only you set, which means they will wear you out.
That’s why the next step—a phone call or meeting—must be scheduled and mutually agreed to or you’ll never reach the prospect.
Now when you call or stop by you are doing so because you have an appointment, which is significantly different from a lowly little follow-up call.
Humor is like dynamite: a little goes a long way.
If you’ve made it this far and are still engaged in verbal jarring and positioning the prospect may be a little tense / short-tempered.
Diffuse the situation with a little humor.
A little personality goes a long way towards establishing trust and getting past put-offs and stalls.
How’s August 18th next year?"
I’ve had so many clients and prospects hit me with the ‘after the holiday objections’ that I’m completely booked until mid-August!"
Can you believe that?"
You can beat the rush by meeting now and as luck would have it, I have a few openings between now and December 31st."
You’re the 37th person to tell me that today, which means you get to have lunch with me and you get to name your price—within reason of course. What are you in the mood for?”
Stand your ground.
Mr. Prospect, for us both to have a happy holiday an order needs to be placed here. I need the sale and you need this decision off of your plate and your company needs the benefits of what we offer. Why delay any longer?”
Why spoil the egg nog with business now, right?"
Let me ask you something while I’m here: What will be different after New Year’s Day?"
Is it a budget thing or is there something looming on the horizon that could make you unable to order?"
(Your prospect will say, “Oh no. Not at all.”)
“Whew! What a relief! You know how busy we get this time of year with last-minute orders."
Why don’t we jump the line and get your order in the queue so you can get this off your plate, schedule the exact delivery, which we can guarantee if you order now, and even split up your payments or not invoice you until the last day or first day of the year, whichever meets your accounting needs?”
Mix and match.
I can’t tell you how many times we got creative at the end of the year when I was selling in the technology space.
We split orders into hardware and software and even installation and warranties.
We took huge orders at the end of the year in return for a larger discount with delivery scheduled throughout the first quarter or even all of the next year.
Even now I’ll offer split payments on your CRM setup and even have clients get started with a lower package so they can get their contacts imported and some Workflows, Sequences, and Campaigns built and running, which will allow them to cancel other subscriptions they may be paying for, then take those savings and apply them to a larger Infusionsoft application.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, especially at the end of the year.
How to discount:
If you need the sale, open yourself up to aggressive discounts. It’s not ideal but neither is being broke.
We are having a 30% off December sale. Our biggest sale of the year!”
How to raise your prices:
Most companies raise their prices after the first of the year so inform your prospects that a list price purchase now will save them the 3-5-7-10% price increase coming right around the corner.
Pressure exposes weakness.
In sales, there’s no pressure like the end of year trifecta:
- End of Month.
- End of Quarter.
- End of Year
Your pay, your bonuses, your prestige, company trips, and awards, maybe even your raise, promotion, and/or your job may be at stake based on how you handle this important time of the year.
But just like your physical health, your selling health can’t be “fixed” in a short, concentrated burst of activity.
If an out-of-shape person jumps into the Iron Man contest they for sure will not finish and they’ll probably get injured and they might actually die.
The same is true for selling.
If you have not been in touch with your clients and prospects on a regular basis to build a healthy relationship with them. And healthy relationships are built on communication.
If you are getting these stalls it means you don’t have a great relationship with the prospect, which means you are not communicating with them as often and with the type of quality they expect, want, and/or deserve. (That’s why I’ve used HubSpot to automate and coordinate my marketing and sales and I help other motivated entrepreneurs do the same.)
Life’s too short for follow-up calls and it’s too short to sweat the sale at all, let alone during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
Get ahead of the curve by staying consistent and even aggressive in your marketing year-round so you can actually take the end of the year off to enjoy your family (that’s why you’re doing all you do, right?), recharge your batteries, and even do some goal-setting and planning for the New Year.
And present them it will.
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.