Manage Your Time This Summer

Summer can be a challenging time for salespeople and businesses. Yes, it’s a welcome respite from the demands of the job and a chance to recharge with family and friends. But reduced productivity because of individuals going on vacation or taking time off can lead to slow sales and dips in revenue.

Here are three key pieces of advice that can get your sales team organized through the summer months and focused on those behaviors and activities that will help maintain your momentum and get through the summer doldrums. These perspectives are universally applicable to turning a challenging season into successful opportunities and can be relevant for situations outside of the workplace as well.

Plan Ahead

You’ve probably heard the saying, “proper planning prevents poor performance.” This can be incorporated into your strategy for dealing with seasonal effects. Plan now to optimize and organize your resources for the rest of the summer, so you can effectively take on any potential obstacles and be better prepared as your customers and prospects return from their summer holidays.

Proper planning includes incorporating flexibility into your thought process, and consistently thinking a few steps ahead—anticipating customer needs, forecasting demand for your product or service and examining seasonal trends in the marketplace. To get a better idea about what “the people” want, reach out to your clients and dig into what they find attractive about your product or service or, perhaps, what they find attractive about their current vendor.  (If it’s a slow season for them as well, chances are they will be more willing and available to meet with you.) This can help ensure your deliverables are prepared to adjust with demand-side shocks. It pays to plan ahead, and it’ll save you headaches along the way.

Control Your “Controllables”

Understand what you can and can’t control. You may have heard that acceptance is the last and essential stage of overcoming grief. The same can be said for overcoming the sporadic highs and lows of summer. Acceptance is essential to navigating the potential mental barriers to your workflow and productivity. However, acceptance alone is not the solution to any low moments.

Being able to recognize when you are experiencing a dip in your activities allows you to more quickly devise strategies to withstand summer sales slumps. (This practice can apply to the good times, too.) Recording the tasks or responsibilities that encompass your expected activities allows you to organize what you can control (new business prospecting, sales calls, meeting with referral sources and centers of influence, etc.) and what you can’t control (customer availability, frozen budgets, market slowdowns, etc.) This helps ground your expectations and lets you plan accordingly.

Do the Math

If you’ve planned ahead, controlled what you can and things still aren’t going well, it might be time to do some math. The answers to your problem aren’t always intuitive, and you may have to break them down quantitatively. For example, if sales are low, your first thought might not be to raise prices, even though this move does aim to increase your revenue.

By taking a deep dive into the numbers, you can identify what factors are affecting performance and determine how to correct them. This in-depth research will provide data to support your decisions. Arming yourself with this data will help communicating with your superiors and colleagues much easier as you can back up your claims.

Summer can be the predecessor of both great times and potentially slow business. By engaging in proper planning, controlling your controllables and performing in-depth analysis, you will be prepared to mitigate a potential summer slowdown and come out on top.

Jim Marshall is owner and president of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay, which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact him at 813.287.1500 or [email protected].

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