Do you have a sales strategy that works for January?  In Australia and New Zealand, January can be a challenging month for sales.  Christmas and New Year plus the long summer school holidays make it challenging for sales people to confirm purchases with decision-makers.

You could call it ‘Christmas brain’.  This unusual phenomenon seems to start earlier each year as government departments and businesses get focused on the three weeks of December before the great summer shut-down begins.  Last week in New Zealand, around one-third of employees went back to work, with another large batch starting back this week.  The rest will trickle back after Wellington and Auckland Anniversary weekends, 21 and 28 January respectively.  Some may not even get back to work until after Waitangi Day (6 February).

So – what can sales people do if most of your customers are on holiday, or else frantically covering for their colleagues still away from the office?  It’s a different sort of a month, punctuated by statutory holidays and summer holidays.  For some industries, you’d be hard pressed to reach a decision-maker who’s in the mood to talk until February.

How can you ensure that your business copes with January?

Last week’s Magnify blog covered Sales and Marketing Strategy – planning your epic journey to sales success.  A good strategy will set large goals for your sales, which can then be broken down into a series of smaller goals and tactics.  This will help you map your progress towards success.

Stay on track in January by pivoting your sales strategy to get the most out this holiday time of year.  This month marks the start of Q4.  If you want to make budget in time for 31 March, you need to make January count in your favour, rather than cost you.  Design a sales strategy especially for January, so that you make the most of the opportunities that time of year brings.

Here are 10 things to do in January to help you grow your sales:

One – Focus on your strategy and planning

While your competition is on holiday, or simply waiting for the government departments and large corporates to get back on board, you’re using the available time to research, plan, and strategise your sales growth for this new year.

Two – Understand your numbers

What was January like one year ago, two years ago?  Look at your sales metrics for the last 24 months to get a sense of what you should be expecting.  If you don’t like the numbers you’re seeing, work out a plan to create a more profitable January.  Call for some help if you can’t see the wood for the trees.

Three – Get your data set up for success

Perhaps you’re a small business without a CRM or any real systems to track your sales progress and sales results.  Do you know how many touch-points it takes, across your social media platforms and team, for a prospect to become a customer?  You may not keep enough records to get the insights you’re looking for.  If you can’t answer this vital question to plan for sales success in your business, it’s time to get your data set up for a more successful sales plan in the year ahead.

Four – Do your marketing planning

If you’re in an industry where you might as well write off sales progress in January, focus on marketing.  Write your sales and marketing strategy and your content marketing strategy.  Brainstorm for your innovation strategy.  Create new marketing materials that provide a strong foundation to grow your sales.  Block out your social media posts for the next year ahead to make the rest of the year so much easier.

Five – Gather your social proof

Prospective customers feel more comfortable purchasing when they trust your business.  It’s not enough that you say you can deliver, they want to hear it from some of your real customers.  Spend time this January gathering your social proof.  Quotes from your existing happy customers, testimonials and case studies can be positioned on your website, posted on social media and incorporated into many other parts of your marketing.  If you’re using video, find some happy customers who are willing to be interviewed.  Social proof placed strategically on your website and throughout your marketing will give cautious spectators the confidence they need to become your next customers.

Six – Get posting on social media

Yes, that’s right – get busy and get posting on your social media.  Your customers might be on holiday, but they haven’t left the planet.  They certainly haven’t left their smartphones at home.  Even if they’re off email, they’ll be scrolling through Facebook feeds, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram.  They may even be thinking about their business needs for the year ahead.  Keep blogging and posting on social media.  When your customers get back from their summer holidays, your social media touchpoints will have formed a vital part of their customer journey, convincing them to talk to you when they’re ready.

Seven – Outsource your sales

If you employ full-time sales and marketing people during this potentially quiet time, their salaries are a fixed cost that you’ll need to cover even when sales are down.  Outsource your sales.  Put as much of your sales and marketing function as you can into the hands of flexible on-demand sales experts, relieving the pressure on your budgets and improving your sales expertise.  Your business will also benefit from a fresh pair of eyes looking at your sales processes and systems, giving you insights into improvements that translate into further sales growth.

Eight – Grow profits with improved sales processes

Are your sales as profitable as you’d like them to be?  While you’re analysing sales data for the previous year or two, think carefully about how you could improve each step of your sales process to create a customer journey your customers truly enjoy.  Increased sales will naturally result from the positive relationships that you build with current and prospective clients.

Nine – Invest in Sales training

How well does your team understand the vital part that each of them plays in growing sales for your business this year?  Customer success principles should be imbued right through each customer’s journey.  January is a great time of year to invest in training that increases each team members’ expertise, develops team loyalty and results in growing sales for your business.

Ten – Review your pricing strategy

Think about your pricing, your profit levels, what your competition is charging and the value you deliver.  Once you’ve reviewed your pricing strategy, if you want to raise your prices, the new year is often a good time to roll this out.  Be careful not to raise prices too quickly, especially for existing customers.  You may be better to plan for a price increase several months ahead and use January to start your customer communications about this.

So, there you have it – 10 great ways to make January count.  Can you still have a break in January?  Absolutely!  Just make sure you don’t sleep through the whole of January.  Use the opportunity you have at the beginning of a new year to help ensure your business enjoys excellent sales growth in the year ahead.