It’s only October, and frighteningly, I’ve spotted Christmas decorations and advertising going up already. I call this the ‘Christmas creep,’ as the season seems to start earlier every year.

For many retailers, Christmas shopping accounts for between 40-80% of their annual sales, so it’s all good news for them as their customers get hyped up to spend, spend and spend some more. But what if you don’t operate in the retail arena?

The danger of giving your sales pipeline a holiday!

A commitment to regular and consistent prospecting ensures that your sales pipeline never runs dry. People go on holidays; sales pipelines don’t!

Yet, I’m already starting to hear non-retail businesses dismissing the rest of the year as useless for lead generation and putting off what should be pre-Christmas projects until the New Year. It’s only October, folks!

Perhaps they are so busy leading up to Christmas that they think they don’t need to prospect? By effectively closing down their prospecting activities so early, it leaves a huge three-month hole in their sales pipeline, and can result in a massive, stressful scramble to try to catch up in the New Year.

It’s a dangerous practice to only look for new pipeline opportunities when sales are slow. By then, it’s too late. If sales are slow to start with, it’s because of weak prospecting, so you are only ever playing catch-up.

But enough about the sales pipeline slackers. This is what you need to know!

Let me tell you what do our sales savvy clients do over Christmas.

  • They focus on the future. Not just on the here and now, but on developing a consistent year-round spread of opportunities to support their businesses.
  • They stay engaged. They continue to prospect right up until the middle of December, so they have a head start over their competitors come the New Year.
  • They use the season for a reason. Our really clever clients combine using Christmas communications (think eCards) with telemarketing calls to update customer contact information, nurture prospects, or to plant the seeds for making contact in the New Year.
  • They utilise the ‘quiet’ time profitably. They use the real quiet Christmas period (the second week of December through to the second week of January) to work on their databases. They profile new prospects, and clean up and verify their data so that their lists are up-to-date and accurate, ready for calling/marketing in the New Year.
  • They take a well-deserved break. Their salespeople go on holiday and can kick back and relax, knowing they aren’t starting from ground-zero in the New Year.
  • They hit the New Year already running. Unlike those businesses who have given up by October, these clients have ready-to-go databases and campaigns. And those who have left it to the New Year to do even the basics of getting ready for another competitive year are eating their dust.

Get off to a cracking 2018

With some strategic planning and a highly motivated telemarketing team (that’s us) behind you, the ‘Christmas creep’ is a profitable time to prospect, update and nurture. Come holiday time, you can happily close your doors knowing that you are fully prepared for a flying sales start in the New Year.

Saying these two words will strike fear into the hearts of most salespeople: Cold. Calling.

I recently saw this tongue-in-cheek comment in another blog: What do you call a salesperson who will not cold call?  An account executive.

To be fair, we’re not all created equal. By nature, we are extroverts or introverts, or we fall somewhere in-between. The best cold-callers are extroverted and task-focused. They don’t suffer from social rejection anxiety or procrastination. They persist, stay on track, and keep on smiling, day after day.

Born, not made

Telemarketing isn’t a skill that can be learned. If a salesperson isn’t hard-wired to cold call, all the training, incentives and threats in the world won’t change them.

And your prospective customers can spot a scared caller a mile off.

A salesperson who is not suited to cold calling will fumble a script, and become tongue-tied when not using one. And they sound like unwilling hostages to an offshore call centre. Despite all of their innate drive and face-to-face charm and charisma they won’t effectively engage, extract, entice, educate, empathise and convert on a telemarketing call. Ever.

I’ll do it tomorrow

Telemarketing is a task that’s all too easy to put off. Preference is given to writing proposals, catching up on expense claims, filtering lists looking for targets they may know in person (to reduce the anxiety of talking to a stranger), increasing numbers of coffee and toilet breaks, and shifting the ‘new customer prospecting’ days to later in the week. Or the week after that.

Here’s a typical scenario: “We have a sizeable organisation with an experienced team of sales consultants, who are excellent at scoping work and closing sales. However, procrastination runs rife when it comes to picking up the phones to make cold calls and finding qualified leads. Because of this, we have an inconsistent pipeline of opportunities, which makes it difficult to accurately measure sales forecasts.”

This is a common problem. But it doesn’t matter what your salesperson’s excuse is; the issue is real and impacts on the business’ bottom line.

The outsource solution

So, what’s a realistic and cost-effective approach to dealing with it?

Savvy business owners or managers will support their sales teams by eliminating or reducing cold calling functions. They will focus on keeping their salespeople directly in front of qualified leads, where they shine and demonstrate their true value to your business.

Outsourcing is an excellent way to create leads from cold calls (or can also be highly effective when combined with a sophisticated multi-channel strategy), and to bridge the gap between cold calls and warm leads. And it delivers a measurable return on investment when you choose the right partner and deploy the right strategies.

Why talk to us?

We’re not inexperienced minimum-wages telemarketers from overseas. We’re New Zealanders with backgrounds in sales and management. Our experience enables us to talk to people within an organisation at any level. And we rarely use scripts; instead, we engage in intelligent conversation to deliver your message, extract information and achieve your objectives. We’re born telemarketing professionals.