Traditionally, summer is a slow season for new sales in the business-to-business world, and this particular downturn is usually at its worst in July. There are many factors that contribute to this sluggish season. Most Americans take trips with their kids, while others leave for quiet vacations with their spouses. And some are just occupied at work because summer is their busy season. Regardless of the reason, it’s difficult for most B2B companies to generate new leads with the same practices that worked months earlier when business was steadily growing.
This problem isn’t unique to B2Bs; all businesses have a slow season. Yours may be around Christmastime or during winter, as more people retreat inside to escape the cold. No matter when it happens, no one enjoys it when sales are slow. And for new business owners, this downturn can cause panic.
Finding The Pattern
During my first few years in this business, I didn’t realize the midsummer slow season was a pattern for my industry. July would hit, and I’d be in full-on panic mode by mid-month. I was running around like Chicken Little, preaching about falling skies and driving my wife and my team crazy. When you put so much of yourself into a business, it’s heartbreaking to watch a sudden downfall — until you understand cycles. Now that I recognize this slowdown is just a seasonal issue, I’m left with two choices: Give up or push harder.
There are varying schools of thought on this topic that I’ve heard from some really intelligent professionals. Part of me thinks taking action during a slow season comes down to budget and desire for growth, but there isn’t a right or wrong answer here. What works for one entrepreneur may not work for another. To find your solution to a budding slow season, all you have to do is use the savvy and expertise that got you this far.
For some, the answer may lie in preparing for the uptick; for others, the answer is within their company. Personally, my solution is to dig deeper.
I’m always growth-minded, and I want to conquer the slow months. I know that with the cyclical nature of business, the results of our efforts may not be noticeable until business picks up again. For example, July typically reaps new sales that add up to about 30 percent of how much we sell during a normal month. August is better, but we still only make about 70 percent in sales comparatively. But we can’t wade through a slow month without any action. So, my theory is that we should push hard in July in hopes that some of that hard work will spill over into August. At that point, we can anticipate our sales growing.
Each year, my goal is for July’s new sales to be at least 70 percent of a normal month and August to be 100 percent on par with a normal month. If this happens — or if we even get close — I consider that a huge win.
Regardless of the numbers, as long as we are increasing sales during our slow month from year to year, I know we are doing something right. By making an effort during the slow turn of my business, I can see if we are taking steps in the right direction during a time when every move has to be calculated.
The Plan And The Logic
Despite best intentions and execution, we likely won’t make up for a slow month with a ton of new lead promotions. Many people simply aren’t paying attention. So, we still develop a few new-lead promotions, but the bulk of our efforts are focused on people who are already on our list.
Here are the three main areas we focus on each slow season:
- Potential clients we have recently spoken to but who haven’t given us a yes or no
- Past hot leads who have grown cold
- Leads that need to be reengaged
By focusing on internal leads, we have a much better chance of closing a sale, since these potential clients already know, like, and trust us. Theoretically, they also have some interest in our products and services. And because of this downturn in new lead generation, we have the resources and focus to pursue leads that remain in limbo.
To some extent, this comes down to a numbers game. We have to reach out and sell hard to double the number of people we sell to during a normal month. But all the effort will have both a short-term (July) and long-term (the remainder of the year) payout.
Does It Work?
To be totally transparent, there is no guarantee that marketing will work. That’s the terrifying beauty of it. You will never know a strategy’s outcome until you use it. I have seen my peers put out crazy successful marketing during their traditionally slow months. In fact, I’ve even created some campaigns to provide that success. But as with any new marketing method, it involves a bit of trial and error, and there are no guaranteed results.
So will this push and grind with in-progress leads work for you? The truth is, I don’t know. But I do know that if I don’t get up and try something, there is one certainty I can bank on: having a slow month.