You might believe it impossible to miss your 2022 sales goals and targets before the year has even started, but it’s actually a common occurrence. When you’re working against the clock to create and capture opportunities, the lack of discipline that would cause you to "let up" or "coast" puts next year’s goals in jeopardy.
Every holiday season, salespeople give up on prospecting. It's more difficult to get meetings as decision-makers are winding down, rejecting requests for meetings, and politely asking you to catch back up with them in January. Sales leaders push their sales force to close the deals in their existing pipelines, offering discounts even if the client can’t buy, as if treating B2B sales like Cyber Monday would speed up the decision.
The right thing to do is always the right thing to do. The right thing to do is to keep selling through the holiday season, maintaining high activity despite the end-of-year headwinds. Take a look at how easy it is to miss next year’s goals long before the ball drops in Times Square.
Giving Up Part of November
In the United States, the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving, when a lot of decision-makers and decision-shapers take time off before and after the Thursday holiday. When they return, they are often sprinting to close their year strong and prepare for the following year. Because this is true, you might tell yourself the lie that "no one" will take your call or schedule a meeting with you after, say, November 15. That’s a generalization, and all generalizations are lies.
When you give up on selling in November, especially prospecting, you dig a hole you will struggle to extricate yourself from in the following year. If you’ve got a 90-day sales cycle, failing to create opportunities in November will cause you to have a difficult March.
A Difficult December Makes an Awful April
If November is bad for some salespeople, December is worse. At the very time your prospective clients are trying to wind things down, you are asking them to start something new, a mismatch with their agenda. It seems hopeless, and you’ve already given up part of November without feeling the sting of negative consequences, so you hunker down to wait out the dark, cold end of the year. Because you tell yourself that no one is going to engage until after the New Year, anyway you create a self-fulfilling prophecy, one that you guarantee by not taking any action to make it otherwise. Besides, the lack of opportunities in December is not really a problem until April, giving you plenty of time to find the deals you need to reach your goal.
In January, They Just Got Back to Work
The best way to get out of a hole is to stop digging. A salesperson who gives up November and December, though, is certain to grab their shovel and keep throwing dirt over their shoulder in January. Your mind will be all too willing to help you justify not doing the work you need to do, letting you continue to rationalize you poor thinking, your bad decisions, and your lack of effort. It will even help you write a whole list of easy ways to make up for your laziness once things thaw out.
We do a lot of poor thinking at the start of the year, and not just in terms of New Year’s Resolutions. The best lie for January starts with "They just got back to work. They don't want to hear from me now." Well, not with that attitude, they don't! Is the value you create for your client in March any different than the value you might create for them in July?
Try this thought experiment. A prospective client needs your help. The change you can help them make is worth $100,000 in increased profitability each month. Your prospective client asks you when you believe they should implement the change initiative. What month would you suggest they start to ensure they capture the most value? Would twelve months be better than, say, seven months?
How You Lost Next Year's Goal in the Prior Year
You gave up a large part of November. You gave up most of December trying to close deals, many with clients that cannot yet say yes because they need more conversations to move forward. When January ends with too few opportunities, you have come up short for 8 to 12 weeks—almost a quarter of your year.
Assume you have a quota of $1,200,000 annually. You need to win $100,000 of new business each month to reach your goal ,and you typically win 50% of the opportunities you create. To net $100,000 in new business, you need to create $200,000 in opportunities, or $50,000 of new opportunities each week.
By failing to create new opportunities for three weeks in November, you add a deficit of $150,000 in opportunities going into the next year. Losing four weeks in December costs you another $200,000 of opportunities, bringing your total deficit to $350,000. You get back to work the last week of January, adding another $150,000 in missing opportunities, bringing your grand total to $500,000 in missing opportunities or $250,000 of your $1,200,000 goal. Now what was that you were saying about making up for lost time?
How to Ask Your Prospective Client for a Meeting
The Trading Value Rule is full effect, no matter what month it is: you must offer your client something valuable enough to command their time. Asking them to listen to you talk about your company and the wonder and joys of your "solution" is a non-starter. If you offer instead to provide them with your plan for improving results in the coming year, including a list of changes you believe are necessary, you are getting closer to the mark. You may have learned this ditty for prospecting: “show me you know me.” It’s not bad, but also inaccurate. A better approach now is "If you want to reach me, teach me."
Don't give up during the holiday season. There is still value to create. Even if you don't create as many opportunities, the right thing to do is always the right thing to do.