If you are in B2B and you’re not busy hustling and business planning this December, you’re missing out.
That´s right, if you treat this holiday season as down-time, chances are that you’re going to come back into the office in January and not even realise that a major opportunity had passed you by while you were ‘waiting for your clients to come back online’.
Here are six things B2B companies should be doing over the December period to gain the upper hand in the New Year.
1. Call your customers at the beginning of December
Thank them for their business and find out if they have plans to go away over the Christmas period. There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, this shows that you care about them and that you value their business.
Secondly, you want to know if they are going to be around over December. If they’re not going away and they are working all the way through the festive period you can be pretty sure that they are planning on using that time to plan for the New Year. There may also be projects that they didn’t get to in 2014 that they may want to bring back into focus.
What you should be looking for is an opportunity to become part of the planning and thinking. Your client will have more time and his other business associates will assume that there is nothing to do until January, which means they won’t be calling on him for a few weeks. If there was ever an opportunity to add value and build your relationship, it is over the December break.
2. Send a festive greeting card or gift
Make sure it is handwritten and that you are sensitive to your client’s religious beliefs.
This is also an opportunity to send a gift. Again, beware of the inappropriate gift and what´s your client´s policy on receiving gifts. While many like a bottle of bubbly or a nice red wine, find out if your client is one of them. There isn’t a present that is less appreciated than one that can’t be enjoyed.
At Monsterful, many of our clients travel regularly and we find that good quality, middle of the range headphones are well received. Gifts with a little thought behind them go a long way.
Also worth noting that a festive greeting card sent to a lead does no harm; and who doesn’t like receiving a (non-digital) card over the festive period?
3. The Lunch of Opportunities
If your client is going to be at work over the Festive Season, this will be the one time that they might have the opportunity to join you for that lunch you’ve been asking for all year. It gives them a chance to get out of a quiet and empty office.
At lunch, talk about the past year and find out what they felt you added value. Also, take the time to explore what opportunities there are with new initiatives or other departments going into 2015. However, avoid talking business 100% of the time. It´s the holiday season after all.
4. Send relevant and useful information to your clients
Most of us get fewer emails over December. This doesn’t mean the habit of checking email disappears, it just means that we are more open to reading mail that we would ordinarily ignore. If you know what your client is planning for the New Year, send him helpful articles and blog posts. It shows that you care and you’re around to help.
Similarly, if you have a lead, send them a personal email letting them know that the attached article you came across made you think of them and that it might be of interest.
If you are able to show not only that you are interested in what your clients and leads are doing, but are able to share worthy information that is relevant to them it keeps you and your offering top-of-mind.
5. Make a ‘to-meet-list’
If you take your foot off the accelerator in December, you’ll see the effects well into January. I am always astounded at how many people come back into the office in January only to get organized in a week and another 3-4 days to get going.
Make a ‘to-meet-list’ of clients and leads you want to engage with in 2015, and come into the office in January and have the list waiting for you. Contact them and organise a catch-up with them. Be the first face they see in the New Year and make sure that they are thinking about you as they get going with their 2015 projects. It is always easier to get in on a project at the beginning.
6. Don’t ignore the juniors.
Many of our clients leave a skeleton team in the office over the December holiday period. Many of those left behind tend to be junior team members. Make it a policy that a junior client always deserves your team’s attention and support.
If you make a junior member’s life easier and you are able to make them look good, there is a good chance that they will become an advocate for you brand within the organisation. Don’t forget; a junior becomes a manager and eventually your lead client.
A lot of teams over December are left with small projects and admin tasks. Invite them to a lunch or a breakfast. Offer them help in getting things done. They also have information that could help you and your cause. And whatever you do, don’t leave them off the festive greeting card list.
December is a month of opportunities. Realise that this is the time of year where you can build on your existing relationships and become a part of your client’s planning process. Use this month to the fullest, come back in January with a clear mind, and rock year 2015!
Gerrit Walters is the founder of Sydney marketing and advertising agency, Monsterful (http://www.monsterful.com.au).