Don’t trust the rumors. There is no downtime in summer. 2023 is all about lowering the cost, increasing profit, and doing more with less. Your prospects need technology and automation to achieve this!
Sure, Europe in summer is slower. And hotter. (Trust me, it’s boiling in Madrid right now.) But that doesn’t mean your ability to close a deal is dead. Business as usual may slow down but it’s also a good time to consider new technology and processes. If you aren’t in front of prospects this summer, someone else will be top of mind.
And, while you should definitely take time off, July and August are great opportunities to plan and grow your business so you’re ready for September and Q4, gaining momentum for 2024.
I talked to some of Sales Force Europe’s partners and now I’ll summarize the ways we’ve successfully beaten back the summer slump in Europe, year after year.
Summer is a great time to plan because we’re always too busy for it. Winter holidays are hectic on a personal level and then we get too focused on growing, growing, growing that we don’t take pause. And a lack of planning is the number one enemy of every company, reminds our CEO and founder Rick Pizzoli. So, during this slower time, take a step back, look at what’s doing well, and fix or drop what’s broken.
At Sales Force Europe, we have innovative new clients who have signed in the last month specifically so that we can plan together and train our team, and even start engaging with prospects. Now is also the perfect time to test and improve both messaging and product market fit. All so we are set up for Q4 success, and building a strong foundation for the new year.
Also review your sales funnel, he continued, evaluating how many leads versus revenue you are generating and how it’s working, so you can optimize your ≠≠sales engine after your sunshine break.
Finally, Marek suggests that you ask yourself: Do we really know our market and clients? If the answer is YES, create a quick-win leads list, so you’re ready to kick off in September, if not sooner
We’ve said it before — Europe is a continent, not a country. It should be treated as at least 30 different markets. That includes summer holidays. The U.K. and the Netherlands actually have a much longer school year that isn’t ending for a couple weeks, so most businesses are still really active right now — though they may all be rushing to get work done before annual leave. But not everyone has kids anyway.
“While the holiday period can be quieter in the U.K., it is not typically as quiet as some European countries,” our U.K.-based CRO Gavin Page said. “People without school-age children often take advantage of lower-cost holidays outside July/August and this means you can still make contact with decision makers and drive sales. Many companies use these quieter months to explore new projects/initiatives for the future.”
Interestingly enough, schools in France are closed from around July 14 (Bastille Day), but, by the second half of August, most French businesses are eager to take a meeting.
"Know when your prospects are out/back from vacation and open to fresh ideas. Think of the number of decision makers as the number of zeroes in the deal you dream of: e.g. 100,000€ means five persons to connect with and convince.” Some of them may love to work during a quieter August. Yves de Beauregard, our France country manager, reminded us to “check when they depart and come back, in order to set up meetings accordingly. I've personally secured big deals in France in the second half of August, sometimes calling from a windy beach with a hard-to-hear prospective buyer!”
And even if people are on vacation, Gavin recommends heavily using LinkedIn and social contact approaches — if people are on holiday, they are usually monitoring social channels on a more regular basis than email.
Not everyone on any team will be off at the same time. Take advantage of slower schedules to upskill, train, mentor and coach.
“Use this time to revisit the fundamentals. Get people learning and coaching each other. Look at key projects across the biz that need doing. Identify your scale gaps — we all have them — and set deadlines, otherwise they won’t get them done!” Ilona Brannen, leadership consultant at Slate Digital, said. Summer is a particularly great time to invest in cross-functional projects.
For SaaS in particular, she said a great one to invest in is mapping out the complete customer journey from sales all the way through implementation and then customer success and even offboarding. Customer onboarding is a key one, she said, always considering: How can you make that a better experience? This is an area right now ripe for automation and self-service.
And just about everyone we spoke to talked about how you need to improve data capabilities across the business. Ilona said to look at optimizing your customer acquisition cost, while Collin Stewart, CEO of our partners Predictable Revenue, offered tricks to optimize your lead data.
“The biggest thing to happen in this year is not AI, it's automating SDR research,” Collin remarked. “AI can help with this but it's only the icing on the cake.”
He suggested two new capabilities that can help you combine sources for target lists that are better than ever:
This means each of our SDRs is equipped with better account lists and has more access to valid emails and mobile numbers. No more researching multiple tools, they can just show up and hit the ground running every day. Always with GDPR in mind.
“Companies that can combine both sources now have the ability to create target account lists,” Collin said. “Going into 2024, if your SDR team is manually researching prospects, you'll be at a strong disadvantage to your competitors’ SDRs.”
Spend July and August focusing on upskilling in these data-rich trends.
Slower summertime is a great time to explore new customer bases. This could be testing out a new vertical or a new country market. It can also be aiming for smaller businesses that are especially looking to adopt technology to help them do more with less.
Even a seeming industry of giants like telecommunications is ripe for casting a broader net, says our telco specialist Nigel Pollard.
“The telco space shouldn’t just be confined to Tier 1 operators,” he explained. “There are MNOs [mobile network operators], MVNOs [mobile virtual network operators], Fibre Operators and Altnets, B2B and B2C players, installation and IT companies, SIs [systems integrators], data centers.”
Summer is a great moment to reconsider your market fit, route to market and strategic partners.
Ask, Nigel says, “What is different about the vendor's solution which the end customer can't get from the major OEM suppliers [original equipment manufacturers] to these customers?” And then frame how you and your technical offering can stand out, offering a unique value.
Once you do some deep-dive training, you can then come up with a top target list, map the key decision makers to it, and reach out to a couple of friendly contacts to get some feedback and meetings. All setting you up to better reach qualified prospects in European markets in September.
Indeed, so much of your startup or scale-up success comes down to optimizing across your whole sales funnel, all the way down to the conversion to customer.
"In low and slow months, it’s really good to re-evaluate your product and look over your funnels to make sure that there aren’t any glaring issues with the product as far as conversion rate optimization,” Andrew Lee Miller, author of “The Startup Growth Book,” said, giving the example of an app's install-to-registration numbers.
Check out your app registration process, Andrew suggested. “There’s usually an optimization where we can make the app registration process a little bit smoother, thus leading to a higher conversion rate for a web project. It could be removing a couple of fields from the sign-up forms.”
Summer is also a great time to amp up your marketing. If you’re targeting a new international market, just make sure it is localized — not just translating the words, but the messaging, reflecting the values of and the benefits you have to offer the local culture. Don’t make an assumption here, rely on locals to advise you.
“A company can hack its own PR by creating a press release and circulating the press release to the media,” which is consequently how Andrew got in this post. “Focusing on PR for the summer is a really good exercise because it doesn’t cost any money, it only costs time, and all you have to do is write the story and then distribute the story by liking, following, commenting, DMing reporters and writers on Twitter [or LinkedIn!] and then sending them the story to get your startup featured in the media.”
As Andrew referred to, it’s not just about creating new content this summer, but about finding ways to reuse and recycle existing content across different media in fresh ways. This will help lay the branding foundation for your specific audience, soft-selling over socials, priming them for a deeper conversation later in the year.
Sales Force Europe is the leading provider of outsourced sales and lead generation services in Europe. We represent you and get your tech in front of qualified prospects faster, with less risk. Reply to this email and we can set up a conversation.
And most importantly, as Marek put it, remember to enjoy the summertime!