This time of year salespeople everywhere find it harder and harder to get opportunities started and closed as the marketplace seems to be focused on the impending holiday season and end of the year clean up. Decision makers are dealing with their budgets and planning for the coming year and making buying decisions don’t appear high on the priority list. My advice is to stop fighting this trend and join the party.
Frankly, 4th quarter selling should have been taken care of in October so that all you had to do was pick up the purchase orders and agreements you worked out with your customers and clients. Unless you are in a highly transactional, short decision cycle business the last 90 days of the year should be finalized before Thanksgiving to avoid getting lost in the holiday party, socializing that tends to become prevalent. For many business development people your primary focus in the final quarter should be prospecting for revenue you want to realize in the early months of the new year. That’s why I suggest you reset your priorities to take advantage of this opportunity to talk business with your customers.
True business development professionals understand you aren’t a product peddler, but rather you are profit partners with your clients and customers. To talk profit, you need to be able to the executive level people at your clients in conversations about their business operations, successes, challenges and performance. The need to demonstrate your value above the Product Knowledge Guru status becomes more critical as you look to get decisions made based on business value rather than technical specifications or features and benefits. When the person that lives and dies on the balance sheet reality of his enterprise believes that you can make life easier for him or her you become less susceptible to competitive pressure from lower price options or some Johnny come lately product design.
Today you should start scheduling business review meetings with the highest level possible at your Top Tier customers. Ask for a time to come in and review their sales numbers for your products or services, talk about whether they think those results truly represent the opportunity for mutual benefit, ask where new targets might be found, set new goals for the coming year and ask how you can become more valuable as a partner. Don’t ask for more time than you should, keep the meeting on schedule, don’t overstay your welcome, and by all means, send homework so that you can get right to work once you are face to face. Show you are thinking about the business they operate and ask if you delivered all they expected from you. Don’t let any of those sleeping dogs lie because when they wake up things can get uncomfortable. It isn’t personal; it’s just business!