When customers go on vacation, as many will do this holiday season, many sales reps clock out, too. And at first glance, if you’re a sales rep, clocking out probably seems fine — just one less person you need to reach out to or worry about until he or she is back in the office.
However, that’s the wrong attitude to take. A customer’s vacation, like many other events, is actually great opportunity to build your relationship and keep your company front of mind for him or her. You just need to know the right approach.
Here are four strategies the best salespeople follow when their best customers go on vacation:
1. Send reading material.
Long-form content is an extremely valuable sales tool. It solidifies your position as an industry leader, and it tends to perform much better than short-form content. So, when you know a customer is headed off to vacation, consider it the perfect time to send tangible reading material the customer may enjoy, whether it be an ebook or a printed version of your brand’s magazine.
You can also recommend this content as interesting reading during the traveler’s flight, or something he or she can bring to the beach and flip though. Your prospects are going to have lots of down time, after all, so they’ll have a better chance of getting to the literature you provide, as long as it’s relevant and interesting.
Just avoid going over the top and delivering content that’s aggressively sales-driven. Your goal should be to inform or entertain, not convince this prospect to make a purchase while he or she is away and relaxing.
2. Dig further into the company.
While your main contact is on vacation, you have the ideal opportunity to find new contacts and network within their organization. A mid-size company of between 100 and 500 employees, for example, has an average seven decision-makers for any single purchase. If you have only a single contact, you may be limiting your revenue-generating potential.
This is your chance to fix that. Simply ask your contact who’s going to be covering during his or her absence, in case you need to reach out. When you find out the name, follow up and say, “While we’re at it, is there anybody else in your company I should get in touch with, for this week, or for any other concerns in the future?”
3. Reach out (but not immediately).
Make a note of where your customer is headed on vacation and, most importantly, his or her date for coming back. You’ll want to reconnect quickly, but not push too hard. If the return date is a Monday, which is normally one of the most effective days for emails, consider holding off until Wednesday or Thursday unless the issue is pressing.
Your customer will most likely have a huge pile of work to come back to, and your message will only be an unwelcome annoyance and most likely ignored or forgotten. If you wait a couple of days until the customer is caught up and settled in again, you’ll have a much better chance of getting through.
4. Schedule a meeting.
Knowing when to reach out to your customer is good, but the only way you can truly make sure you stay connected with someone going on vacation is to get the customer to lock in a meeting date for shortly after he or she returns. This ensures that no matter how busy this person is after vacation, you’ll have a guaranteed opportunity to talk.
The key is making sure that you have a valid reason for the meeting up, so schedule a demo or promise important information at that time. You can simply say: “I don’t want to bother you before your big trip, so let’s plan to talk sometime after you get back.” Again, it’s prudent to schedule a meeting later in the week so you don’t get lost among the piles of catch-up work.
Overall, customers going on vacation do not need to be viewed as a lost opportunity. Instead, vacation is a really opportune time to build the relationship. By sending valuable content, taking the time to make additional connections and reaching out and scheduling a meeting at the appropriate time, you’ll strengthen your rapport with your prospect before and after the vacation period.
Using these strategies, you may see a nice increase in future commission checks to fund your own next holiday.