Whether you sell to consumers or businesses, the key question to ask your prospective buyer is: "What has fundamentally changed that it would be unwise to make an investment now, during the slow season?"
Much of my extended family comes from a farming background. In North Dakota, farmers are forced to deal with the cyclical nature of the seasons and their own personal economic conditions. They work from sun-up to sun-down during the planting and harvest season. During the winter, farmers have plenty of time to relax, but they also make absolutely sure they've prepared for the coming Spring, when life gets busy again.
They research new opportunities, order seed, install new fencing, and repair equipment. How short-sighted would it be for them to say, You know, we talked about buying that new tractor we need, but it's sure snowy and cold now - maybe Spring won't come this year. Let's save our money. I'm sure it's not news to you that Spring comes every year! The farmers who have prepared and have planned reap the greatest rewards.
Part of the problem for us city-dwellers is that we've become very disconnected from the seasons, and the cycles of life. We sit in our air-conditioned (and alternatively heated) offices and think we can control our destiny. We're Type-A personalities and we can make things happen!
Is it realistic to think you can plan a business that will have no rainy days, no snowy season? Year-after-year exponential growth is what shareholders want to hear, but is it realistic? What gets companies (and people) in trouble is when they don't save for a rainy day. You, as a seller, also need a plan to sell during the slow season.
Want some "rainy day" marketing strategies? Here are five ideas to get you started:
- Offer several price points. Let people try your product or service for free or for a low fee, and once they see the value, encourage them to upgrade their package. (But don't bait-and-switch. Each level should be clearly explained to show the benefits and limitations.)
- Offer fixed price packages. Put together a package that combines everything the customer needs for one fixed price. It's simple. It's easy. And customers know they won't have to reach into their pocketbook to spend more.
- Offer a money-back guarantee. Appeal to customers who want to make sure they're getting what they paid for.
- Offer financing or monthly payments. Cash flow is a real concern for businesses and consumers alike. By letting people pay over time with either a credit card, financing or monthly payments, you can get more people to say "YES" to your offers.
- Make sure your prospective customers see the value. Will your solution provide a return on investment? Don't assume your customer will immediately understand all the ways they'll benefit from your solution. Show how other customers have saved money and improved efficiency. Use real numbers - hard dollars or percentages.
Spring is coming. Walk into your sales opportunities knowing that smart businesses (and smart consumers) will prepare for the rebound of the economy by building better processes, taking advantage of great sales, and getting a competitive edge. There's a purpose for every season.