Avoiding the Summer Sales Slump

Summer can be the worst time for sales—sellers aren’t selling, buyers aren’t buying, signatories are often absent. Why? You name it: Summer vacation, kids’ activities, traveling to see grandparents, spending time on the lake, the golf course, etc. 

In my 30 years of leading sales teams, I’ve seen it all. Once I had a rep literally “phone in” his forecast for 2 months from a campsite at the base of his favorite climbing sites in Southern Utah. He did just enough email from his Blackberry and just enough on the phone to keep his manager from knowing where he was. After he hit his number (and he did hit his number), he let us know he had “gotten away” with that. But I always wondered how much he could have done if he had been fully engaged for those two months—not only closing business but also building pipeline for future quarters. For over a decade, my summer all came down to the ability of my federal/military sales team being able to hit their numbers because fortunately, most federal budgets and business are awarded in the month of September.

2020 is very different.

Time traveler: “What year is it?”

Citizen: “2020”

Time traveler: “Oh boy.”

Because so many are forced to work from home, sellers are even more “out of sight, out of mind” than in a typical summer. But on the other hand… they have nowhere to go but home. Stores are closed. Restaurants are closed. Hotels restricted. Travel risky. And even if salespeople could travel right now, the question is would they? Unfortunately, with people losing their jobs in record numbers, it seems 2020 is the exact wrong year to gamble with job performance.

All indications from our data show that selling (albeit modified) is still happening, even from home. XANT’s statistics show overall sales activities are up 43% and telephone talk time up 37% since March 1. For that to be true, sellers need to be selling and buyers engaging. Let’s assume that in 2020, both sellers and buyers want to stay in the game and keep doing their jobs as well as they can (instead of “taking the summer off.”) With that assumption in mind, here are 5 tips to help your sales team succeed:

  1. Adjust expectations. Most CEOs have taken Q2 new bookings expectations down by +/- 50% and Q3 by +/- 25% (this will vary by industry). Make sure your team knows you are not tone-deaf to the situation in the world and adjust their targets accordingly.
  2. Adjust your message and your targeting. Right now is not a good time to be running an aggressive promotion to the travel and tourism industry—they have other things to worry about more than buying your product. Make sure you understand how your product can help your customers in the context of the current economic conditions, then adjust your message and target accounts accordingly.
  3. Measure and discuss activity metrics. This is not the year to check-in only weekly for the forecast call. Track phone calls, emails, and meaningful conversations for each rep, each day. Review these stats live with your reps and have a conversation with them.  This helps sellers stay in the game and stay accountable to a program—something they need to do this year more than most. XANT’s statistics also show that manager monitoring of calls is at an all-time high; we are all learning how to adjust in this new reality. XANT’s Playbooks™ is a perfect tool for auto-logging and tracking activities.
  4. Record and listen to sales calls, and use them for coaching. Since you can’t stop by desks or join in person for meetings, make sure you have a call recording set up so you can “drop-in” on calls and use them as the basis for coaching your reps. Chorus.ai is a great platform to help with this.
  5. Hold daily “best practice” standups. The world is changing by the minute right now. Your competition is adjusting. Your customers are adjusting. What worked a week ago may be different today. Have your team dial into an informal standup each day to share what they are experiencing and learn from what others are experiencing.

To be sure, the world will come out of this current crisis. The sales teams who stay in the game over the summer of 2020 and make the necessary adjustments to stay relevant in their customers’ minds will put distance between themselves and their competitors as we come back to normal.

Stay strong, enjoy the summer, and keep selling!

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