Have you seen the old film, Kramer vs. Kramer, the “Best Picture” winner of 1979? To retain custody of his son, advertising executive Dustin Hoffman had to get a job by the end of December. A memorable scene features Hoffman sitting in an office reception area, in the middle of a raucous and politically incorrect holiday office party. Clearly, late December was not the ideal time to be job hunting.

Late December is also not the time to be grinding out sales appointments. I always felt a lot like Hoffman when I sat in waiting rooms this time of year. In the best of times, decision makers are distracted after December 15, not to mention the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic. I often felt that prospects treated my late December sales presentations, complete with an extensive coffee sampling, as more of an employee amenity program than a legitimate selling opportunity. I would usually have to circle back in January to close the deal. I know some of you front line sales reps can relate to this!

Sure, you can get lucky

Admittedly, you can get a lucky break during the holidays. You can connect with a decision maker who really has nothing to do or even better, has made a personal commitment to get their coffee service program squared away by the end of the year. Most of the time, if you can reach anyone, you will be getting the classic December line – “Call me after the first of the year.”

A better strategy exists

For all of you sales managers out there who are encouraging your sales reps to do everything they can to get in front of prospects before December 31, there is a better strategy available. I just outlined the strategy in my latest video on the b2b Perspective Channel, so it is easy to share with your team. Side note – I need less than 15 Subscribers to hit 100. Readers – give me a little love!

Turn to your clients instead

How does that better strategy work?

Call 20 of your favorite existing clients and wish them a happy holiday season. When they ask how things are going, tell them the sledding is tough this time of year and since they asked, could you please ask for a little holiday favor.

“Sure,” they will ask – “What do you need?”

Show them 5 names from their LinkedIn connections and ask them for an introduction to those connections.

Your clients will help for two reasons:

1. Your request is clear and focused.

2. People always want to help – especially during the holidays.

After your client reviews the connection names, they might end up cutting the list down to one or two introductions, but that is far more powerful than any cold calling you can do. The next step – ask them to make the introduction in whatever way is most comfortable to them – in a call, email or through LinkedIn. I always say, “Please copy me in - I will take it from there.”

Turn those referrals into early January appointments, but some prospects might want to see you right now, since you have been referred by a trusted source.

If you end up with 10, 15 or 20 solid referrals from those 20 helpful clients – you are in for a very successful start to the new year. A much better strategy than December cold calling – December grinding.

One exception to the “no grinding concept”

The one type of prospect to pursue relentlessly in December is a prospect that is either moving or expanding into a new space in January.

One of two things can happen, and I know this because I have seen it happen:

1. The office manager dropped the ball completely. They have spent so much time in a fetal position on the floor of their office freaking out over other issues, they never dealt with the “insignificant” coffee service piece. You could be a hero when you suddenly appear on the scene with an instant solution.

2. The supplier they selected is dropping the ball.  This can happen, especially in December, when your competitors are thinking more about the holidays and less about the challenging client move that is coming up. Maybe they have informed their client that they cannot have equipment ready to go when the office opens in January. Maybe the pandemic has changed everything for your competitor – which could mean shortages of staff, equipment, and focus. Anything is possible in 2020.

Spoiler Alert

In Kramer vs. Kramer, Hoffman did get the job, but only because he was highly overqualified and incredibly persuasive – demanding to the ad agency partners that this was the job he wanted and insisting that they had to hire him immediately.

Essentially, he got the deal in December for two reasons. He was grinding and he gave the store away. There is a lesson to be learned there. Take a patient approach, turn to your own clients for help and sell from a position of strength, not desperation.

After you follow my advice and stop grinding, please let me know how it worked for you.

[email protected]

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for allowing me to take the journey with you in 2020. I look forward to bringing you more useful content in 2021, while writing about repopulated offices, increased sales and operator prosperity.

Industry consultant Bob Tullio (www.tullioB2B.com) is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. In July, Tullio launched a You Tube Channel, b2b Perspective, designed to “elevate your business in 2 minutes” and is currently developing an online course, “Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business.”

As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA hired him to write and narrate the new online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q & A Webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.


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New b2b Perspective Video From Bob Tullio: One Thing You MUST DO in 2020

Nov. 18, 2020
Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch contributing editor Bob Tullio has just released a new video on his b2b Perspective YouTube Channel.“The holiday season is a strategic...