Written By: Tibor Shanto
Not all decision makers go on vacation the same week, nor do the influencers.
Sales cycles are no strangers to cyclicality and seasonal swings. “Summer shutdowns”, retooling, Christmas, and of course summer. There is no denying that summer brings a different rhythm and energy to sales. Vacations, kids out of school, longer sunnier days (where did I put that beer?), these are but a few contributing factors.
Having gone through the cycle a number of times, you do see that while some of it seasonal, a good part of the reality sellers experience is a result of tribal or sales culture. But as with many folk myths, they are not always grounded in facts. Spoiler alert: not all decision makers go on vacation the same week, nor do the influencers.
While on the surface some of the reasoning presented by prospects (and often accepted at face value by some reps), may sound reasonable, they’re not. When looked at in the cold light of time and quota, no seller can afford to take their eye off the prize or assume that time somehow ticks away differently in the summer.
A simple litmus test, next time a prospect brings up summer as a reason for inaction, is to explore how tolerant their company is of seasonal shortfalls or slackness in effort.
One benefit that the relaxed pace of summer is people’s tendency to do mid-year reviews and status checks, and then adjust course accordingly. When dealing with a specific vertical, or set of buyers, you could be in a position to leverage this.
The only difficult element of what I am about to suggest is that it does not involve your product, in fact, even a whiff of your product can ruin the whole tactic, “leave your product in the car.”
Not quite the Zen of sales but when done right you will put yourself in a position to offer real value without talking product or sales. The way to do that is to advance the prospect’s objective, not just individual objectives, but the buying organization’s collective objectives.
Having seen how different people and organisations approach similar opportunities, I repeatedly see that the sellers who do best over time are those who can get their buyers to think beyond the channel they were in when they set out on their journey. You should always be placing yourself in a position to introduce new lines of thinking to help buyers move closer to their objectives.
Thinking takes time, it seems that the tribe buys into the fact that things are slower in the summer, great, more time to think, and you can help them think (don’t be scared). Go for that, set an appointment to help them think through things, rather than buy things.
Given that the cast of players in decisions is increasing, used to be 5.4, now it’s 6.7, and only bound to grow with inflation.
Given that some of the players will be on vacation, others may be reluctant to make decisions. But that does not prevent you from going full speed into education and influence mode, using their relaxed state to introduce elements into the discussion that will rekindle their enthusiasm, revive their energy to levels when they started their journey, and give you something to leverage down the pipe.
With the pressure gauge down, you will find it easier to step back and refocus on things that precipitated the journey. We have all seen the phenomenon where mid-year the focus and energy dips, next year may bring greener grass, and the next thing is “we’ve put that on hold, wanna see how the year is going”, and the projects are abandoned, which explains the growing number of deals ending in no decision.
This is your opportunity to not worry about the ultimate decision, but instead focus on helping them emotionally recommit and reinvest in the project, when a buyer is not emotionally invested, it is difficult for them to be financially invested. While not presenting it as such, your approach needs to be to review and learn what has changed, what would they do differently if they were to start over again, or at least based on their journey to date?
By helping them think through their situation vis-a-vis their objectives rather than product, buying cycles, or worse sales cycle, the discussion revolves around them.
This will help you identify things that could be put back on track this year, or almost as good, that “there ain’t nothing happening here,” so I need to stop wasting time pretending, and start prospecting for real, not pretend opportunities.
Let’s be real, the assistant manager is always more eager to show how much they know, how much they are “in the know.” And how do they do that? Exactly!
Taking advantage of the mood of summer also allows you to explore the dynamics internal to the buying organization, especially those decisions that may have to be in place to ensure a decision coming out of Labour Day.
How and who makes the decision, who can and has killed projects in the past, and other important facts that are much better exchanged in the Dog Days Of Summer than the hectic “productive time” between Labour Day and the year-end.
Tibor Shanto has over 20 years of sales experience from telemarketing to leading a…
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