The Countdown to Blastoff —Farquharson/Tedesco
IT'S AUGUST. You are likely chillin' in the company hammock, sipping lemonade and perusing PI's newest column while asking yourself, "Farquharson and Tedesco. Who are they?" Meanwhile, an important event is looming, one that would knock you off of your hammock if you understood its importance; one that should be a recognized holiday by salespeople everywhere; one that looks innocent but, in fact, packs a wallop.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you one of the most significant days of the selling year: The Day After Labor Day. (Insert dramatic sound effect here and brace for the certain shock and awe.)
Labor Day (in this case, September 6) is the unofficial end of summer. The kids are back at school and that first evening chill has come, signifying that fall is on its way. Labor Day brings closure and a page is turned. Symbolically, this change also affects business…in a good way!
Summer Is Over
You see, something magical happens the day after Labor Day. People get up, put their kids on the bus and then head into work. Settling in at their desk—either consciously or unconsciously—the impact of this date is felt and they think, "Let's see, the kids don't need all-day care. The calendar says summer is over. I guess it's time to get some work done!" Thus begins the three most important selling months of the year: September, October and November.
There are 57 selling days between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Imagine the impact of putting your head down and prospecting hard between those two dates. Given that the selling cycle in print is at least three months, you'd have some pretty serious momentum to close out the year.
Conversely, if you did nothing in that time period, it would be difficult for you to gain any traction. And traction is precisely what is needed in this critical selling block of time. Why? Because your selling efforts beginning the day after Labor Day and running through the end of November will determine how 2010 ends and how Q1 of 2011 begins. It's that important. No pressure, though.
Let's look forward and think backwards for a second, starting with the end of the year. December is a sketchy sales month, and your efforts to gain appointments are met with inconsistent results. After Thanksgiving hits, the closer you get to Christmas, the more things slow down and more likely you are to hear the words, "Call me after the holidays."
While you shouldn't make any assumptions, you can't count on getting any momentum between the 1st of December and New Year's Day. The whole month is a wild card. That leaves November as the last solid selling month, and even that is cut short by a half-week of turkey basting and another half-week of turkey digestion and football games. November gets on the sales radar screen, but you'd better have done something prior so that those remaining three weeks are as effective as possible.
Which brings us to October, a great month to sell: No excuses; a full 21-selling-day month; EVERYONE has their head in the game by now. Combine a start-me-up September with a full-bore October and a break-neck November, and you've got yourself some serious sales momentum.
An Action Plan
Okay, so here's the recommended plan, broken down month-by-month:
August: Relax. Enjoy your lemonade. Read PI. Google "Farquharson" and "Tedesco."
September: In the three days prior to Labor Day, prepare your battle plan. Here's a checklist of what you'll need that plan to include:
• A list of prospects and dead accounts. Some idea of what to say to each contact name that is relevant to them, not you. In order to accomplish this you will need to have done research until you can finish the sentence that begins, "The purpose of my call is…" with something other than, "…to speak to the person who buys your printing."
• A daily sales goal. That is, how many calls will you make each day at minimum for the month of September. Given that the selling time period in question is finite, feel free to stretch a bit and challenge yourself.
• 1,000cc of diligence. Read: Git 'er done!
• Some accountability and a reward. Do you know why we pay personal trainers $50 an hour to stand over us, drink coffee and count to 20 while we do sit-ups? Because we need someone to hold us accountable, otherwise we'll do the work for a day and then come up with an excuse, and the process breaks down. You need to employ a whip and a carrot so that the sales goals are met.
October: On the first selling day of the month, rethink your sales goal and adjust it up or down. Do you have more in you? Could you make just one more call per day? Do it! As the month progresses, start to fine-tune your selling efforts, changing what you say and the voice mail messages you leave.
You should also think about the kinds of accounts you are approaching and reconsider your target market. Next, improve your sales efficiency and tinker with your time management efforts.
November: Crunch time! It's the home stretch and, by now, you should have a pool of "likelies." That is, try to collect a list of prospects that you believe are likely candidates, even if you have done nothing but leave unanswered voice mail messages. The end is near. Push through and finish strong.
Work hard between September and November, and Santa will reward you with a nice fat sales stocking. Work hard between September and November, and you will roar into the New Year with your name at the top of the leader board. Ignore this advice only if you're married to a buyer at a pro-print corporation (a better plan would be to have several such spouses).
You have a unique opportunity. It occurs only once a year. All it takes is a plan, a target and effort. How great would it be to arrive at Thanksgiving week with an increasing number of appointments, a few quotes and maybe an order or two? Plus, you can achieve the added bonus of prospects that need only a few more call attempts to enter "customer" status. Nice work. Well done. Pass the gravy. PI
—Bill Farquharson, T.J. Tedesco
About the Authors
Bill Farquharson is the president of Aspire For (www.AspireFor.com). His Sales Challenge can help drive your sales momentum. Contact him at (781) 934-7036 or e-mail email@example.com. T.J. Tedesco is team leader of Grow Sales, a 14-year-old marketing and PR services company. He is author of "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry" and five other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at email@example.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault, are available at salesvault.pro.
Very much alive and now officially an industry curmudgeon, strategic growth expert T. J. Tedesco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-404-2244.