This is a guest post by founder and managing director of the Menemsha Group, Dan Fisher. The Menemsha Group provides sales training and consulting services to the IT staffing industry. You can connect with Dan on LinkedIn, Twitter, or on his IT staffing sales blog.
This Holiday Hangover period is a very tricky time for sales people who want to start the year off strong. They begin enthusiastically with sales calls and happy New Year messages to their prospect lists. In no time at all, they are discouraged as clients and prospects tell them “it’s just too soon” or “I have no needs.” Businesses are still getting organized for the year ahead. Many have not yet set their priorities, budgets or staffing plans.
Here’s the good news. Though the Holiday Hangover cannot be avoided, it doesn’t have to slow your 2013 sales momentum down. Instead of giving into it and losing time, use these tips for overcoming the resistance you will encounter as an IT staffing sales professional in these first few weeks of 2013:
1. Be Ready for the “Not Now.” Be mentally prepared for this standard New Year put off. You can even bring this objection up on your terms. You might say, “Mr. client, many of my other customer’s are still setting their priorities, budgets and staffing plans for 2013. Can I assume this is the case with you? When they say “yes” share with them how you have helped clients with their staffing plans. Or you may ask How could I help you with your planning by providing workforce data or skill insights? Let prospects and clients know you can be a resource as they get ready for the year ahead. If you are ready to hear “not yet” from the start, you will come to the call prepared for a different kind of conversation and ready to offer non-traditional insights and support that will set you apart as a workforce partner.
2. Call with Purpose. What is the lamest sales pitch an IT staffing sales professional can make? ” “do you have any needs?” It’s trite and it’s so easy to decline. “No, there isn’t. Thank you and goodbye.”
This overused pitch is sales laziness 101 and prospects in the midst of their Holiday Hangover challenges will not warm to it at all. So be proactive, be smart and plan each sales call with purpose and thought.
If you’re not sure where to start, let social media be your guide. Follow your prospects’ companies on Twitter and Facebook. Read their press releases and seek out triggering events to find out what’s happening in their worlds and where you might be able to provide insight, support and knowledge.
It’s also smart to go back to your notes on previous conversations if this is a prospect you have had in your pipeline for a while. Look back to see what challenges and/or goals they have mentioned before. Finding out if those obstacles or goals s remain or have changed is a great way to open the door in the New Year and remind prospects that you are paying attention.
3. Be a Good Conversationalist. Any experienced sales professional, especially those of us in IT staffing sales, will tell you that a cold call rarely takes an expected or planned path. You have to be ready for the conversation to go in surprising directions and that takes practice. I invite you to use some of your 2013 Holiday Hangover period refining your conversational skills and using my Conversation Starters Resource Guide as a practice tool. Use this list of useful opening questions to practice the kinds of conversations your prospects are ready to have in early 2013.
I am a firm believer that in IT staffing sales you can overcome any obstacle with a good plan, good information and a great attitude—even the unavoidable Holiday Hangover. Here’s hoping your hangover is short and that your 2013 is a record breaker. I look forward to being an IT staffing sales and business resource to you throughout the year ahead.
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