Plan ahead, experts say to keep summer distractions from causing...

Plan ahead, experts say to keep summer distractions from causing a business slump. It can be a slow time, as many people are away, preparing for vacation or off enjoying the outdoors. Credit: iStock

For many businesses, as the summer heats up, sales cool down.

Summer can traditionally be a slow time, as many people are away, preparing for vacation or off enjoying the outdoors.

To avoid falling into a summer slump, businesses need to ramp up prospecting and find creative ways to keep the sales pipeline full, say experts.

"Everyone's got to step up their game," explains James Barry, a Vail, Colo.-based sales consultant and co-author of "Selling in Today's Economy" (iUniverse; $14.95). "In terms of selling, it's more of a travel time and less of a commodities buying time."

First, understand the reality of that situation, says Barry. "People are predisposed to do nothing," he notes.

But that doesn't mean their needs aren't still there.

"A body at rest tends to stay at rest until affected by an outside force," says Barry. And that outside force has to be you.

Here are some ways to get around the summer slump:

Have a summer party. Invite your top 20 clients and/or prospects to a cookout or other event that doesn't cost them anything, suggests Mike Krause, president of Sales Sense Solutions Inc. in Rochester and author of "Sell or Sink" (AuthorHouse; $24.95). Don't try to sell them, but rather use it as a time to reconnect and give back, he notes. You can even open up your facility for an open house or walk through, he notes.

Start a letter campaign. Write to the top 100 prospects you'd like to hear from in the next 12 months, Krause suggests. You can give them a special offer or free consultation to check you out.

Krystle DiNicola, owner of KLD Photography and KLD Web Designs in Patchogue, is offering a free consultation this summer on the Web side of her business to spur more summer traffic.

Business picks up in the summer for her photography business, but slows down on the Web side.

"I'm not really sure why there's a summer mentality," says DiNicola, who is also offering some discounts on Web packages as a summer incentive. "We're trying to be more proactive."

Go where the customers are. Last year, John LaSpina, president of Maple Family Bowling Centers, built a full-scale portable bowling lane that's on a trailer. The company brings it to fairs and festivals and hands out coupons for free games at its bowling centers, which include Rockville Centre Lanes, Farmingdale Lanes and Coram Country Lanes.

"We'll go anywhere to let people know we're alive and well," says LaSpina, who also reaches out to camps and offers discounted games during the summer months. For instance, for June, July and August games are 99 cents from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Slower times require you to get more aggressive and put more effort into planning.

Set a sales target. If you don't have something to aim for, you won't know when you've succeeded, says Jack Signorelli, owner of Soundview Business Solutions, a Northport business coaching and consulting firm.

Don't just have a monthly sales target, he says. "If times are tight, then this should be weekly."

Write it on a board so the whole company can see and make everyone understand what it is and why it's there, he says.

Other tips from Signorelli:

Connect with current clients with a new product offering.

Use the slow time to improve your sales skills (i.e., consider a sales coaching program).

Don't believe the hype. "If you perceive no one is around and everyone is on vacation, then you are setting yourself up for a negative self-fulfilling prophecy and your sales will take a long siesta," says Signorelli.


Kick up your prospecting

As a general rule, if you make 45 to 50 calls you should be able to set one sales appointment.


Source: Mike Krause, Sales Sense Solutions Inc.

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