Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

How To End The Year Strong


Salespeople work to certain rhythms. One of the negative rhythms is to ease off as we get close to the end of the year. In Japan, most financial years end in March, so the end of December means things are starting to slow down as people get ready for the holiday break coming up. Mentally they start to take the foot off the accelerator and get ready to cruise to the year end. This is 8% of the year we are talking about here, so we cannot afford to lose productivity to that extent at any time. We need to keep hammering away right until the last working day of the year. What should we be focusing on in sales?

Let’s contact existing customers and see if we can be of further assistance. We may have already been doing something for them, but there are bound to be other things we could also do. Whenever we have companies complete an Opportunity Matrix, we always find there are always a lot of solutions available which the buyer has not purchased yet.
Here is how to create your own Opportunity Matrix. Write your buyer solutions or products across the top of the matrix and the names of the companies you are currently serving down the side. Place check marks in the solutions column to indicate what they are already buying. We will notice that they are only buying a small number of possible solutions from us. Then looking at the other solutions available, place an A for a "good sales chance", a B for a "so-so sales chance" and C for "no sales chance" in the solution column for each existing client. Having worked out what they may possibly need, contact them and have a discussion about where we might be able to help them grow their business.
The opportunity is also there to really work on our prospecting capability. We can never do too much prospecting. Make December the time to reconnect with our "orphans". These are clients who we have served in the past, but for a variety of reasons, we no longer have much contact with them anymore. They no longer have anyone inside our company taking good care of them.
Maybe our champion inside the company moved sections or even companies. Sadly, their replacement wasn’t very keen or helpful. Perhaps, they bought and then economic conditions forced them to stop buying, so they have gotten out of the habit of using us. Maybe we didn’t get a positive response to our offer at that time, in that construct, with those terms, in that stage of the budget cycle and we just moved on to find another customer. For a number of perfectly good reasons they are no longer one of our active clients. This is a good time to reignite the relationship. Time to contact them and set up a meeting. Now the meeting may not be able to be held until January, but that is fine. The key thing is to make sure we can meet them again.
December is also a good time to list up look alike targets who are not our clients yet but should be. They are in the same industry or even industry sector as our current clients. They will probably have similar needs and we have knowledge of that business already. This is not random calling of phone numbers like telemarketing, but carefully selected companies with whom to make contact. If you have been supplying five star hotels, for example, then you have a pretty good idea of some of the issues they are all facing. We take this as a starting point to craft our opening conversation with the potential buyer.
Sounds rather easy but it is not necessarily so straightforward. The tricky part is often we don’t know the name of the person occupying the decision maker position in the company. We can check the target’s annual report to see who they list in key positions. Social media like LinkedIn might be helpful, but only about one million Japanese are on LinkedIn so we may not find what we are looking for. A search on the company may show some useful information, but Japanese websites tend to hide the identities of those who work there. We may have a contact who may have some information on the name of the person in that position, so we should use our network. If all of that effort fails, we need to have really drilled our credibility statement to get us past the gate keepers and allow us to talk directly to the key person.
Remember we have worked with their competitors already, so we have insight into their world, which will make our credibility statement sing. We make a general statement about what we do. Next we use evidence of where we have helped a similar company. We now suggest we could do the same for them. We use authority in our voice and command the gatekeeper to transfer us to the decision-maker right now.
The key is to work on expanding the pipeline. We need to use the month of December to try see clients and to also build up a pipeline of meetings for the new year. Salespeople must not slow down. In the Japanese calendar, December was called shiwasu or the teacher is busy, busy running around. Well salespeople need to be doing the same thing at the end of the year too. Let’s get going for a strong finish to the year and pump the action for the start of the new year.



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