By Payton Killcarr, OpsRamp
Summer. It’s great, right?
Baseball. Hot dogs. Barbecues. You know the drill.
But as a director of business development, I can say with 100 percent confidence that summer is my nightmare.
The summer sales slump is real, with practically every IT decision maker on the planet taking a vacation at the same time. Research shows that 11 percent of decision makers take a vacation in June, and 36 percent do so in August. That’s a lot of emails that go unanswered. Out-of-office notifications fill our inboxes. And it’s harder to get someone on the phone than it is to hit an infield home run.
At my company, OpsRamp, we’ve been lucky to avoid the summer slump for the past two seasons. In fact, my business development team has been able to keep the funnel full of qualified leads no matter what summer blockbuster opened. Our month of July saw 10 percent more first meetings set than May, and August had 25 percent more. Sure, we’re lucky. But after years of fighting through the summer slump, I’ve learned a few key insights about how to succeed against great weather:
- Grin and grind it! Did you know that most salespeople only spend 34 percent of their time selling? This job rewards passion and positivity. I tell my team that success in the summer comes from a rigorous schedule of activity. B2B sales cycles are longer than ever, and that means there are always opportunities to reach out and touch your prospects. Summer is all about touchpoints: Email, phone calls, social media, and my favorite, handwritten notes. Downtime is the enemy. Make sure that you’re always closing and always happy.
- Win the hearts and minds of those around you. Last week, one of our newer reps was getting crushed under the weight of our call quotas. That when I jumped on the phone alongside him for a little motivation. I believe that my entire team should lead by example. We all get on the phone. We all write emails. When you’re in the summer slump together, it’s harder to have a bad attitude.
- Be consistent, consistently. We have an internal quota of 30 outbound calls per rep, per day, along with one heavily customized email and one LinkedIn InMail. If we do more, that’s great, but we never do less. Winning in business development is a lot like working out - you can achieve a lot if you’re just consistent. Wake up, get in early, and get down to business. Those phones don’t dial themselves.
- It’s about the prospect first and product second. Finally, I always preach the value of rapport. It’s the idea that people buy from other people. Specifically, they buy from their friends. So, think creatively and build relationships before you build product use cases. Sure, you get out-of-office notifications. But that means we can ask about vacations in a week. We talk about families, fun, and favorite parts of summer. And above all, we believe we’re talking to people when they are (hopefully) their least stressed. That’s an advantage. Use it.
- Coach customers on how to buy. Part of the process of rapport is to help customers help themselves. We find that many of the folks we do get on the phone are just beginning their journey and want to talk about the internal decision-making process. We get on the phone and help them identify decision making factors and how we can help them navigate. Harvard Business Review recently commissioned a report on this strategy and its overall effectiveness. It’s a technique used by the top 20 percent of reps in high-performing organizations.
Summer’s great. Above all, it’s great because it’s easy to be in a good mood in the summer. And when you work in a business that rewards consistency, positivity, and creativity, you want every opportunity to stay positive and upbeat. It’s time to re-think the summer slump and start to preach about all those great summer opportunities.
Good luck out there. And don’t forget your sunscreen.
About The Author
Payton Killcarr is the Global Director, Worldwide Inside Sales at OpsRamp.