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Smaller businesses beware: the ‘summer sales malaise’

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Over the years at Sales Commando I’ve seen a significant number of small-to medium sized businesses winding down their sales drive during summer months, even though this can damage long-term bottom line and market share.

Why do they do it? Larger businesses can deal with the a holiday exodus and cover each other’s shifts, but smaller businesses will struggle when employees holiday on mass in the summer months. So they compromise by reducing their sales targets.

The truth is that holding back on the decision to launch new and/or innovative sales drives over summer can let competition creep in to hard-won territory, leaving smaller businesses fighting to regain market share in the autumn.

There’s some thinking which says sales decrease in summer months anyway: this is not only complete bunkum, but leads to a missed and potentially lucrative opportunity – which competitors may very well turn to their advantage.
 
Here are the figures: in the UK, with a 29.59 million strong workforce, just 34 per cent take summer holidays. In the U.S. the figures are comparable with 37 per cent taking summer vacations out of a workforce of some 210 million. These statistics are reflected around the Gulf, Europe and Australasia. 

These figures show that over 60 per cent of clients and employees do not holiday during the summer so you’ve already got a greater percentage of your sales targets in work and available to sell to.
 
What’s more, those who are holidaying present two of the best ‘chat up lines’ of the selling year – “Where are you going on holiday?” and “How was your holiday?” The fact is customers and clients are often more receptive to your sales pitch if you open that sales pitch with what’s at the top of their mind. Their holiday.
 
Another common sales misconception is that people going on holiday are either clearing their desk or struggling to come back up to speed afterwards. So why bother them until early autumn?
 
This is wrong thinking. You can help a soon-to-holiday client clear his desk and enjoy a stress-free break by closing that deal before they go. Or, you can help the holiday making customer settle back into their job by taking away worry – and closing that deal you’ve been working on while they were away.
 
All around the holiday period there are sales opportunities and these opportunities can be golden eggs. It just takes a little lateral thinking and a few carefully worded questions.
 
Is there such a thing as the summer selling malaise? Yes. Is there a golden rule for not falling into this trap? Yes, and it’s simply: keep going, keep selling, keep winning. Because if you don’t, your larger competitors will muscle in, and your long-term business planning could well be shot through.

Doug Tucker is founder and managing director of Sales Commando, the leading sales training agency.  Former Royal Marine-turned-motivational and sales guru, Doug offers corporate sales training to SMEs and multinationals in the UK and worldwide.

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