Back off during the holidays or charge ahead?

By Jim Kendall

This column originally appeared in the December 7, 2015 Daily Herald

                Absolutely, this is the time to kick back: Quit making phone calls, because your best customers (and prospects) are out of the office anyway, and take a few extra days off.

Unless you’ve talked with Stacia Skinner, that is.

President of Creative Training Solutions, Mount Prospect, Skinner doesn’t agree that December is a slow-down month. “The average person may take time off, but the decision-makers don’t go on the road this time of year,” she says. “They’re in their offices the first three weeks of December.”

In Skinner’s sales-boosting system, “You can be one of the few people they see,” because your competition has backed off, she says. Even if they can’t see you today, you can use the contact opportunity to set an in-person meeting for January 4, the first back-to-work day after the holiday season.

Skinner suggests two other sales-related tasks to be performed:

* Choose your top five, 10 or 20 accounts, and create a game plan that targets the people you want to reach, Skinner writes in her newsletter. Do some due diligence; check names and contact information, then take the initiative and connect.

* Review your prospect files. If your database is clogged with companies you haven’t contacted in the past year, “Maybe you have to dump them – or look for a new angle that will give you a competitive edge,” Skinner says.

“Don’t keep things in your database that are dead.”

There are other ideas to put in place, too:

* Plan to break away from the crowd of competitors in two easy, but very different, ways: Exhibit or, perhaps better, sponsor a meal at an industry trade show. Lunch or breakfast sponsorships can be less expensive than exhibit space and, during the meal, the publicity spotlight shines on your business.

“I don’t want to be the little guy in a booth at the back of the room,” says Jim Dray, president of TCA, a Chicago-headquartered bank compliance consultancy. “We can do a lunch for the equivalent of just a few hours of billing time.”

Podcasts are another option. Create programs that feature you, as the company leader, offering insights and perspective on industry issues, but make the podcasts available (via email) only to clients and, probably, top prospects.

Assuming carefully structured programs, podcasts can help bind clients to your business.

* Is 2016 a celebration year – perhaps a 10th or 15th, or 25th anniversary – for your business? If so, make certain there is at least a special anniversary logo on your website, letterhead and other materials.

If 2015 was your anniversary year, your website and other promotional materials going forward could include a tag such as, “Helping customers improve their profits since 2005.”

If your business is younger, the same type of “Helping customers improve their profits since (pick your year)” slogan likely can allay any concerns about your company’s staying power.


© 2015 Kendall Communications Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Listen to Jim’s Business Owners’ Pod Talk at