Experts recommend using holiday gatherings to mine for prospects.

Experts recommend using holiday gatherings to mine for prospects. Credit: Getty Images / andresr

Prospecting may seem futile during the holiday season, but now’s the time to be working to fill your sales pipeline for 2017 by setting goals, reconnecting with old customers and reaching out for new ones.

With that in mind, you should not lose sight of smaller sales while waiting for the big fish. Setting a timeline and schedule to do prospecting will help ensure you have some appointments set come January, experts say.

“It’s never too early to start prospecting,” says Stephan Schiffman, a Manhattan sales coach and author of “Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work!)” (F + W; $11.99).

He advises companies to try to have an appointment set for the first business day of the new year.

“Make it your business to do that, and it starts the year off right,” says Schiffman.

Optimally, companies should aim to grow their sales by at least 10 percent over the previous year, he says.

That requires laying the groundwork now, despite the common misconception that everyone is in holiday mode and it’s not a good time to prospect.

It’s the same scenario as salespeople thinking they can’t sell in the summer because everyone is on vacation, adds Jeff Goldberg, president of Long Beach sales training firm Jeff Goldberg & Associates and co-author of “Leverage Your Laziness” (Sound Wisdom; $9.99).

But this may actually be the best time to reach out to customers and prospects because they may be a little less busy and more open to conversation, he notes.

“There’s gold in your database,” adds Goldberg. Salespeople should go back to existing customers and prospects who stalled them during the year and check in to see how they’re doing, ask what’s new and see what they need.

Let them know about the products and services you’re offering in the new year, suggests Schiffman.

Goldberg likes to invite prospects to his networking group as his guest. Or you might invite them to a holiday party you’re attending and make introductions on their behalf, he says.

As you prospect, keep an eye out for smaller sales, advises Kendra Lee, president of KLA Group, a Centennial, Colorado, sales and marketing company, and author of “The Sales Magnet” (KLA Press; $17.95).

“Smaller opportunities are faster to uncover and faster to close, and they start to add up over time,” she notes.

If people don’t respond initially, don’t give up, she says.

On average, it takes nine to 12 calls to get a prospect to respond if they don’t know you or your company, says Lee.

Commit to doing a certain number of calls, emails and other sales activities each day, says Goldberg. It may take some experimenting to see what works, but it’s important to set goals.

Rich Isaac, president of Sandler Training of Hauppauge, a sales training and consulting firm, set goals for the fourth quarter to renew a set number of existing clients and add a certain number of new clients before year’s end so that he could start the year off right.

To accomplish that, he developed a specific plan based on generating referrals.

For example, one of his goals was to bring in three new substantive clients before year’s end. To do that, he’s asked for almost 20 different referrals through various means, including LinkedIn.

“It’s a work in progress,” Isaac says. “I want to go into the new year with a very significant amount of 2017 goals already covered.”


Successful sales reps maintain a minimum of three times their quota in their pipeline at all times.

Source: Kendra Lee, KLA Group

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