The B2B summer sales slump is real—and it's here.
Leads and prospects are on vacation. Salespeople are 20% less productive. Everything about your pipeline becomes a bit less predictable.
But that doesn't mean you can't get great sales results in the summer. You just need to change your approach and be okay with the fact that you won't post numbers as good as you do in other seasons.
There are lots of ways you can beat the summer sales slump in the B2B world. Here are five good places to start:
1. Change Your Goals
Every sales team needs goals—but those goals might differ in the summer. Because sales are more unpredictable, it's harder to set and meet revenue goals. But you need to keep working toward something. So what do you do?
One approach is to change your goals. Instead of focusing on the total amount of revenue your team brings in, you could emphasize appointment-setting. This might be easier because contacts can agree to meetings after summer is over. Invite prospects to put something on the calendar after Labor Day when they're back up to speed.
This doesn't help you generate revenue over the summer. But having a lot of appointments set up for the fall helps you get back on track when the summer slump is over.
Your summer goals don't have to focus on appointment-setting. You might have goals for upselling current customers, getting new leads from conferences and events, or increasing the clickthrough rate on your outreach emails. All of these can be accomplished during the summer slump. And they'll all have positive effects on your sales process.
New goals can also help motivate your employees when they'd rather be on the beach. New challenges are fun and get people thinking in different ways. Find goals that both motivate your employees and help your business move forward, and you'll have a successful summer.
2. Improve Your Database
Your sales database is the foundation of your sales results. If your database isn't solid, you're going to struggle. Your reps have some extra time during the summer that they can spend on improving that database. It seems like a small task, but it pays big dividends in the long run.
Here are just a few of the things that can decrease the quality of your sales database or CRM:
- Inconsistent formatting
- Outdated contacts
- Duplicate contacts
- Old product information
- Outdated sales collateral
Summer is a great time to solve these issues.
But you can go beyond fixing problems, too. You can enrich the database to create a better tool for salespeople when they get back to full speed.
Additional firmographic and technographic data help you target the right prospects. Data about events help you plan your field sales activities for the rest of the year. Psychographic information lets you tailor your sales process to specific accounts.
All of this database improvement takes a lot of work. A summer sales slump is a perfect time to do it. It will pay off later—and it means salespeople aren't wasting time when things are slow.
3. Lead Generation + Prospecting
If your typical prospects aren't available, it's time to find more people to sell to. Summer is a great time for lead generation and prospecting.
Some of your team should work on filling your pipeline with ideal customers like they would during the rest of the year. But you can also use the summer to expand into new areas.
Maybe one of your reps has an idea to sell to a new market. Or an intuition that a different type of segmentation will get better results. Give salespeople a bit of extra freedom during the summer to explore new lead generation avenues.
Your sales team should continue prospecting throughout the summer, too. Even if it feels like every contact has gone on vacation, it's still worth spending the time to call around and qualify your prospects. Like setting appointments, it will help your team get back to full speed when the summer's over.
4. Work With Existing Customers
The summer sales slump makes it harder to get new customers. So why not work with the ones you already have? Existing customers are a valuable resource you can draw on all year round—but they're especially helpful during the summer.
There are two main ways they can help: referrals and up-/cross-sells.
Good customers in your primary market probably know other people who would be a good fit for your business. Why not ask them to make a connection? Offer a referral incentive over the summer to recruit customers and help you with your sales process.
Drawing on your customers for referrals has an added bonus in the summer. If your customers have good contacts, they might know when those contacts are in or out of the office. Save time by setting a reminder in your CRM to get in touch after they're back.
You can sell to existing customers, too. Up- and cross-selling is one of the most valuable sales strategies—and it's especially valuable in the summer. Sales reps have the extra time they need to create a very compelling case for an additional purchase.
And if the customer isn't ready to make another purchase, reps can lay the groundwork for future conversations.
5. Up Your Sales Game
If you just can't make as much progress as you want to, you can opt for non-sales activities. Investing in your salespeople is always a worthy cause.
Summer is a great time to add to your salespeople's knowledge and expertise with additional training. Unfortunately, some of your employees will be on vacation, so you might get lower attendance than usual. But that's okay.
Your salespeople can brush up on sales techniques, learn more about your product line, or get a motivational boost. There are nearly unlimited options for sales training, and there's no better time than the summer.
If you'd rather not spend the money (or time) for extensive sales training, there are other ways you can prepare your sales team to improve performance once summer ends.
You might, for example, institute a sales enablement program. When your team is back to full strength, they'll have more useful resources and information to support their selling. Or you could have your SDRs work closely with your marketing team to better align their goals.
Summer is also prime time for added sales coaching. Have your managers spend more time coaching your reps on how to close deals, increase their average deal size, and make any other improvements that will help your company.
Stay Focused and Productive
It's easy to lose focus during the summer. When leads and prospects don't pick up the phone, a third of your sales team is on vacation, and you want to be outside, your motivation might flag a bit.
With the tips above, you can keep your focus and stay productive during the summer sales slump. You won't make the same kind of progress that you do throughout the rest of the year. But you can keep moving forward, putting you ahead of your competitors who use the summer to slow down and relax.