Busier isn’t better: Avoiding the summer sales pitfall

Before I knew any better my HVAC colleagues greedily watched the calendar.  They’d start rubbing their hands together in March.  They’d start saying things like “I hope it gets hot this summer.”  Some would read The Farmer’s Almanac.  Others would study historical weather data.  All of them wanted a scorching few months to replace the slow, gloomy spring sales season that is always part of of Northwest life.  Like gamblers they pinned their hopes on the long shot.  Truth be told I did too.  Or at least I eventually did.  A hot summer meant a steady supply of leads.  It meant walking in to the office with a stack of appointments waiting for you.  That felt good.  Maybe it’s American Puritanism that we often associate being busy to our self-worth.

Not much has changed for a lot of my friends.  The prospect of a hot summer is still exciting. Folks post a seven day forecast on their Facebook page when the weather’s going to be hot.  They gripe a little about it when it cools off.  

They’re pinning their future on a distant star…

A hot summer does generates more leads.  Salespeople are busier when it’s 100 degrees and humid outside.  But is that a good thing or just a thing (and a temporary one at best)?  So I’ve been asking a new set of questions about this summer sales anticipation:

* Do more leads mean better leads?

* Does the level of total consumer urgency truly increase?

* Do more leads and time constraints decrease the quality of a sales presentation?

* Does running more leads put customer service and follow-up on the back-burner?

* How does the competitive landscape change in the summer?

* What if the weather isn’t extraordinary?

* Why do we automatically associate being busy with being productive?

It’s time to rethink the predominant sales attitude towards the hot summer months.  It’s time to step away from this fiendishly tempting summer pitfall.  Hot weather, humid weather, and an influx of leads do not automatically mean that a salesperson will make more money.  More than likely it’ll mean that they’ll miss more opportunities than they’ll capture simply because they’re trying to accommodate too many requests for their time.

It’s time to slow down once the weather starts heating up.  Here’s why:

* Better time spent with consumers who are in a buying position will improve an advantage

* Better time spent evaluating lead source and quality means a better closing percentage

* Better time spent working open-proposals database will capture dormant opportunities

* Better time spent developing post-sale referral opportunities helps position a salesperson for a solid fall

* Better time spent with fewer customers means not being the #5 salesperson for a customer taking ten proposals 

* Better time with customers means better front-end service

* Better time with customers means better time to execute a great presentation

I’ve never met a salesperson who is paid for martyrdom.  As gratifying as it is to drag in to an office after a 12 hour day and say “I worked my ass off!” the emotion is weirdly self-sacrificing rather than self-improving.  Especially if the sales aren’t there to support the exhausted relief.  And that’s not fun.  A salesperson’s performance is based on best-use of time and resources, her sales acumen, and her results. More leads doesn’t ensure these results.  It compromises best-use decisions.  I replaces acumen with overconfidence.  

It’s time to slow down and focus on slow, professional, fundamental best-practices.

The sun is 92,960,000 miles away from the earth.  Rather than hoping that something happens more than 92 million miles away that will magically increase sales, let’s control what we can control–the quality of our client presentations, the tactical use of time, and a better focus on customer service.  Slow down this summer.  Slow down.  Stay focused.  Replace the temptation to run more leads with the acumen needed to run fewer, better leads.  

Most importantly, save your energy for the slow months–that’s when a salesperson really needs to hustle.

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