The weather is changing, the days are getting longer and, just like every summer, the average entrepreneur takes a break from the business world. Traditionally, this period is also considered as 'silly season' for sales; you can't close a deal with a customer who isn't there and even after his holiday, he will rather put his own business in order than start hunting for new opportunities. Isn't that so?
Nothing could be further from the truth, say Shana and Dimi. The summer is an ideal opportunity to connect in disconnection and to use the moment to close new deals in creative ways outside the walls of your office. But the summer also offers the chance to build a stronger bond with your existing customers and to involve them in your life outside the workplace.
Summer leave is often a moment of (self-)reflection for an entrepreneur, who literally and figuratively disconnects from the business he is otherwise involved with 24/7. It is also an excellent time to think about those few projects that are always put on the back burner. That is why it can be a good idea to do some prospecting during the summer months. This does not mean that you necessarily have to close the deal in the summer, but it does mean that you have to get and stay top of mind. Does your potential client need to consult with others first? No problem, you can easily pick it up again after the summer. What is important is that you have already made yourself known.
Plan around the leave
It is also important to plan around your leave, both for others and for yourself. Not sending out an e-mail because you are going on holiday yourself is no excuse - for important deals it is a small effort to keep an eye on your mailbox. The longer you wait to contact a potential customer, the greater the chance that you will end up in his mailbox at the beginning of September under a deluge of e-mails and requests. Do not wait with a contact request, but proactively give a number of dates from which the other can choose. Because work schedules are generally more relaxed during the summer, you create breathing room and a relaxed atmosphere, which makes planning a first appointment a lot more pleasant.
For example, it's a good idea to pitch to a potential client just before they go on holiday. Otherwise, they might have to reschedule to hear your pitch, but not now; with a nice holiday in mind, your pitch is more likely to stick with that potential client and they will think about it for example by the pool. Because on holiday, many business leaders turn off their laptops, but not their heads. So, pitching shortly before holiday is very efficient; you plant a seed that, with a bit of luck, you can harvest quickly when you get back.
Outside the walls
Would you like to do business with a large company? Then summer is definitely the right time. Going out for lunch, a drink or a trip to the golf club is much easier because of the generally calm summer rhythm. You'll soon find that it helps to remove yourself and your customers from the workplace. Don't be afraid to invite a client - existing or potential - to do things together. Whether that's on a (luxury) boat trip or a terrace, a nice walk or a sporting challenge; people show their true nature faster outside the workplace.
You will immediately notice that in such a summery setting, a lot of other conversation topics come up. Small talk shifts from KPIs and growth plans to the beautiful weather and distant destinations. In this relaxed atmosphere, people feel more at ease, which in turn makes it easier to build up a bond with each other. Personal connection makes it easier to linger long after the summer is over, especially if you can please potential clients or not with a fun or exciting activity. Don't be under any illusions: the period of terrace cafes, barbecues, beach holidays and good weather is an ideal time to do business in a subtle way.
Personal and informal
If there is one thing you should remember from this article, it is that a personal 'click' makes it so much easier to do business. Especially for the younger generation of entrepreneurs, business often comes first, but old-school entrepreneurs know better. Every entrepreneur longs for a moment to escape the rat race, and a holiday or summer break offers the perfect opportunity to do so.
Use the many leads in the summer to boost your relationship with your customers. Throughout the year, it can sometimes take months before you reach the same level with your customer as you do on a few cosy summer evenings. People like to talk about their summer, their children going to camp, their festival planning or dream destinations. After hours of talking about such faits divers, you can land a nice deal, not necessarily after a long company presentation but, as we say it in Dutch, 'tussen de soep en de patatten'.
Whether you want to maintain your relationship with an existing client or bring in a new one, summer offers the ideal time to combine the useful with the pleasant. If you provide an enjoyable experience, the results will soon follow. Who said anything about silly season?