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There Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues

Borrowing a line from a famous song likely not identifiable within the Millennial crowd, the summer season brings with it inherent struggles for the business development professional and/or salesperson. Anyone who has been through a couple of annual cycles of business is well aware of this.

Networking, events, cold-calls, walk-ins, email campaigns, scheduled appointments all take a hit during the summer weeks- which in practicality runs from the 3rd week of June up until September 6th or so (a couple of days AFTER Labor Day). We will call it 10 weeks.  That is roughly 20% of the fiscal year.  Are sales goals, forecasts, or quotas at your company reduced during these 10 weeks?  Probably not.

The truth is that it is harder to do business and also find more/new business during the summer.

For starters, you yourself likely take off a solid week (or more?) during the summertime. That is one week that you are not accomplishing anything business-related.

It is a daily occurrence for me that I am trying to locate/contact a client or a prospect and I receive the dreaded Out of Office auto-reply.  Most of these people are out for a week, but some are off for two weeks straight. (I haven’t had a two-week vacation since I was 17 years old, but I digress….)

If a key decision-maker is gone for two weeks, then it is very likely that your project/service/product is off the table for this month.

The other key fact is that with the emerging trend of more complicated and convoluted purchasing or contracting requirements, there is a strong chance that one of the three or four people needed to “sign off” on a big decision are on vacation. Thus, no decision or contract signing will be made until everyone is around and available.

For monthly forecasting, this can and does create problems. Some companies assume this and will actually expect a little less in July and August and then anticipate a large “catch-up” month in September.

Many associations and networking groups will go dark in July and August; thus the BD activities that you would normally due may just not be feasible. You may have to be a little more creative and direct.

Even if people are physically at work, I believe that many are not 100% involved and engaged in any task that is not absolutely critical. Some almost have somewhat of a “laying on the beach” attitude during the summer- which generally doesn’t help with making things happen. This is merely a personal observation-not directed at any specific company or individual.

How does a BD professional deal with the summertime blues?

It can be hard. People are going to be away. Maybe some more focused planning during the summer is required so that answers and direction can still be achieved. I’d also try to stress wrapping up loose ends before June 15th in an effort to avoid wasting a month or so trying to track down people or their back-ups.

Full disclosure – I love the summer and live 1 mile from the beach. I have nothing against the summer, and all of us need some downtime. But trying to keep business activity up can be a challenge.

Ken Lambert

Author

Ken works in new business development for Red Thread's Architectural Products department. Some of his writings have been featured in ARCHITECT magazine, constructiondive.com, and for U.S. Building News.

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