By Angelique Rewers
How do you find those opportunities? Despite all the speaker services that are out there, I still find my best opportunities by talking to people I know and also searching on Google. Remember: There are more than 4,000 live events every single day just in the United States alone — so there’s no shortage of opportunities. You just need to do the legwork to find them!
December is one of my favorite months of the year. But from a business perspective, it presents some interesting challenges. For starters, there are often a lot more personal commitments and tasks on your own task list, like shopping, wrapping, decorating and baking… not to mention the holiday parties.
Meanwhile, on the client side of things, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, it can be a month ripe with opportunity. There are many companies looking to spend any remaining budget they have before the big ball drops in Time Square. And when things get really quiet in the office — like the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day — you’re able to reach a lot more decision makers on the phone directly.
On the other hand, it can often be difficult to get anything accomplished. Professionals and entrepreneurs alike are more distracted and disengaged, and would prefer to delay making any decisions until “after the holidays.” Plus, plenty of entrepreneurs and big companies alike have exhausted their fiscal budget and simply can’t make purchases until next year.
So what then are some sure-fire things you can do in December to make sure the month isn’t a total loss? Here’s my personal checklist of five end-of-year activities that will ensure you finish the year strong, and start the New Year even stronger.
1. Apply for next year’s speaking opportunities. Hands down, speaking is the fastest way to build credibility, meet qualified prospects who are interested in what you do, and get your foot in the door. It’s so important, in fact, that if my clients had time for only one marketing strategy, this would be it. And with things being a little quieter in December, it’s the perfect time for you to focus on submitting applications to speak at events throughout 2014.
2. Bring lunch to your nearby clients. If you’re located near a lot of your clients, December is the perfect month to thank them for their business with lunch. But here’s the key. Because people are always busy, even in December, I find they are MUCH more appreciative of my offer to bring them lunch on a Friday — versus asking them to find time to get out of the office for an actual lunch date. (Hint: Pick a swanky restaurant located near their office and pick up a delicious lunch on the way.)
Use this face-to-face opportunity to thank them for their business, as well as find out what their biggest priorities are for next year. While your primary intention is not to sell, you’ll be surprised as to how many real opportunities you can identify (and even land) with this authentic approach.
3. Touch base with procurement departments. Some companies call it Purchasing, some call it Supplier Management, and others call it Procurement. Whatever they call it, if there’s a company you would like to have as a client, you need to make sure that you are listed in their purchasing database — and that they understand what services, programs or products you can provide. The end of the year gives you the perfect opening to contact them and see how you can be in their ‘Rolodex’ for 2014.
(Bonus Tip: Don’t get discouraged if the purchasing folks are cranky with you or only add you to their database begrudgingly. It sometimes comes with the territory.)
4. Raise your prices — and offer a last chance opportunity. If you’re going to do it (and you probably should), December is the easiest month of the year to write that memo because you have an obvious “reason” for the increase: The calendar. But this also creates an excellent opening to boost your cash flow right now, by offering your clients and customers a chance to “get in at this year’s rates” by making a purchase now, or even making an advance booking for a coaching or consulting package with you later.
5. Send out Happy New Year cards. Just about everyone who sends a holiday card to his or her clients, former clients and colleagues does so in mid December, leading up to the Christmas break. People’s desks become cluttered with the cards and then, right before they leave for the holiday, all of those beautiful cards go right into the trash. So starting about five years ago, I began sending out Happy New Year’s cards that I would drop in the mail no earlier than December 31. My contacts don’t receive them until after the holiday madness — and, without fail, I end up hearing from clients who need help with big projects that are kicking off now that it’s January.
Final takeaway: The expert at hand is the expert who gets hired. So you can make the very best use of this December by ensuring you are the expert at hand right now, as well as the expert at hand when the New Year arrives.
If you liked today’s article, you’re welcome to use it in your own ezine or blog as long as you include the following blurb:
Known as The Corporate Agent, Angelique Rewers, ABC, APR, teaches micro business owners and solopreneurs around the world how to grow their small business by working with Big Business. Get her FREE CD and articles at www.TheCorporateAgent.com.
Start using these three strategies this week, and you’ll be happily surprised by how much your sales conversations change for the better!