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Even though for some reason it’s 77 degrees in St. Louis on this late July day, it’s summer. And summer means vacations. And vacation season means there are salespeople everywhere whining that ALL their key target customers and prospects are on vacation. Feel free to show this post to your colleague who driving you nuts with the constant, “how am I supposed to get meetings or make my numbers when EVERYONE is on vacation?”

I’ve got two thoughts to help combat the I should just coast through the rest of summer until vacations are over and it’s Selling Season again mentality. First, EVERYONE is not on vacation, and certainly not at the same time. Let the lazy under-performers who don’t want to prospect anyway cry about vacation season. While they’re making excuses, you beat them to the punch. Make the call. Send the uber-creative email. Take advantage of your competitor’s complacency to get noticed and get in.

Second, how about taking advantage of this slow time  to work on your game? If you’ve got extra time on your hands then put it to good use. Here are just a few things you can do — investments you can make — that are sure to pay dividends:

1.  Sharpen your Sales Story and freshen your Sales Weapons. When is the last time you took a good hard look at the words you’re using – in emails, on the phone, in your voicemails, in your Linkedin profile, and in presentations, follow-up materials and proposals? Your Sales Story is your most critical weapon because bits and pieces end up in all your other weapons. Have you slipped into talking more and more about your offerings, what your company does, and how great it is – you know, the stuff that only matters to you but doesn’t get the attention of prospects or help lower their instinctive resistance to a sales approach? Almost nothing will help make you more effective in sales than taking the time to ensure you’ve got a succinct, compelling, client-issue-focused and differentiating sales story. If you’d like some help, Chapter 8 of New Sales. Simplified. offers a few examples of great stories and a valuable exercise to walk you through sharpening your own story.

2.  Revisit your Target Account List. If you’re like many salespeople, there’s a good chance you’ve had your head down plowing away. Or maybe you are on Autopilot flying the course that was programmed  a long, long time ago. Whatever the case, a slow period is a great opportunity to revisit the list you’re targeting. Ask the hard questions: Are you pursuing the right types of prospects and growable existing customers? Are you targeting the right contacts at those accounts? Do you have too many Targets on your list? Or too few? Selecting and segmenting your Targets is one of the few chances you have to be strategic. Take advantage of think time or research time during the summer slowdown to work on your list.

3. READ! What would happen if you spent an hour a day investing in yourself, working to raise your own sales game? There are so many great sales books out there and an abundance of sales blogs where you can go to sharpen your sword. If you want direction on which sales books might be right for your situation, shoot me a note with a description of your particular sales role and what you are looking for, and I’ll point you to a few favorites.

4. Rest and Recharge. Maybe you should take a clue seeing so many others on vacation and take some legitimate time off yourself. By legitimate, I mean truly unplugging (disconnecting actually) from  your smartphone and your email addiction. Have some fun. Laugh at the phantom phone buzzes on your thigh as you suffer withdrawal symptoms from being off email. Go see an old friend. Visit a national park. Sit on the beach. Burn up some of those hard-earned frequent flyer miles. Rest, recharge and refocus. I certainly much prefer you take vacation now because it makes me nuts when salespeople take off during the Fall Selling Season just when everyone is back to work and getting serious about business again.

While your peers or competitors are bellyaching about everyone being on vacation, take advantage of the opportunity and position yourself to win big!

 

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