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5 Ways to Beat the Summer Slowdown
For the rest of the August 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Here we are again in the middle of a sweltering summer and the heat is unbearable. Yes, it's August and you know what that means in the business world. Unless you are in the boat rental or suntan oil industry, business is slow. Everyone is either preoccupied with planning that beach getaway or is already there, and IT budgets are locked until September. So what is an executive to do during this grueling period? Don't fear, I am about to share with you my five tips on how to not only beat those summer business doldrums, but to turn this down time of year into time well spent. Drop the deadbeats. Now is the time to reevaluate your business objectives and client base. Everyone has high- maintenance and unprofitable customers that they just let hang on. Put an end to it. Either devise a scheme to bring these troubled customers up to be a positive influence on your P&L statement, or drop them once and for all. Chasing bad business is never good. Pick up the phone. Make that extra call or company visit. Do it for the contact and not for the sell. Use your downtime to build relationships, so that when business picks up in the fall, the prospecting is done and you're ready to close. While your competition is working on their tans, you're working on new business. Go back to school. Maybe your customers are also working on their tans and they are not around for an impromptu visit. Then check out the local college or training institute and brush up on your business acumen, salesmanship, or technical expertise. Just because you made it in the business world doesn't mean you have finished learning. Use this time to better yourself and be a more valuable asset to your company and to your clients. Eat your own dog food. Take a day and purchase something from your own company whether it is via phone, online, or by simply walking down to a retail outlet. Then spend the remaining part of the day pretending to be a customer with a problem and test your customer service representatives, contact center, and even technical support. Go through your own customer experience and see what it is like to walk in their shoes. If it doesn't meet your expectations, do something about it.
Don't be a sheep. Marketing 101 tells you to be more aggressive when your competition is pulling back. So while many companies are cutting their marketing and advertising programs, use this time to win some mind share. Spend a bit more at this time of year than usual to market and better establish your brand. You won't get lost in the noise and come spending time, customers will remember. You may not have time to exercise all of these suggestions now. That's OK. Keep them in the back of your mind for any slow period. The key thing to remember is to not just pass the time, but to make time work for you.
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