Many industries have a notable summer slowdown.
It’s prominent in America between June and September when school is out, the weather is great, and vacations happen. Many European and Asian companies also experience a slowdown during this period.
Even so, the summer slowdown doesn’t have to be a selling slowdown. You still can enjoy some vacation time while also enhancing your value and visibility with customers and prospects. That way, when decision-makers and influencers ramp things up in September, you’ll be top of mind. Do 3 Activities to Exploit the Summer Slowdown and Boost Value:
I once sent a book I just read on the future of work and our economy to Lew Platt, former CEO of Hewlett Packard. “It’s very unusual to get a book from a sales rep,” he told me. “I’ll tell you, it kept you top of mind. Was that your goal?” It wasn’t, but from then on it became a goal and a way to help me connect with customers during the slow summer period. These kinds of books become “keepers” for customers: They won’t be tossed but instead added to the material to be perused later. As Stephen Covey writes in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” this is a way to help customers “sharpen the saw” because you’re offering something of value.
Offer a personal touch.
When I send books or other customer keepers, I always include a personalized, handwritten note. While some say they don’t have time to send such messages, it only requires jotting down two or three sentences – and customers will remember you for it. Every year of my corporate career, I penned holiday cards to customers served by me or by my team. In later years, it was limited to the top 200 executives my teams served. I got good responses then and I still get good results today by including handwritten notes with my book. To date, almost 20 percent of my book recipients respond with a thank you or “Nice touch with the note” followed by an agreement to meet.
Catch-up with co-workers.
Summer is a great time to deepen internal relationships because the pace is a bit slower and people are more relaxed. This helps when you need virtual teams to help pursue future business. At HP, we learned MBWA or “management by walking around.” We learned to enter buildings through different doors so we’d see and talk with different people. We’d take alternative paths to the cafeteria and ask people to join us. After meetings in various buildings, we’d exit through different hallways. It’s amazing how much you learn about co-workers using MBWA. At Microsoft, we had shuttles on campus and I looked forward to sharing rides when I could. Even as a vice president, I’d ask someone who was going to the same place to join me on executive shuttles.
Don’t let the summer slowdown prevent you from being productive. With customers, it’s a perfect time to make yourself visible and valuable before the competition starts. With co-workers, it’s a great time to see all the other important things that are happening, which makes you a better information source for customers and a good virtual team leader.
Please share some tactics you’ve used to make your summer more productive!
©Rick Wong, The Five Abilities® LLC