A Time for Thanksgiving

James T. Durkin

October 1, 2007

With the upcoming holiday season fast approaching, spent budgets, an uncertain future, and cautious bean counters hasten the all-too-predictable holiday and first-quarter business slowdown. However, this is the perfect time for forward-thinking companies to set themselves apart in a positive way. The following sales technique can yield tremendous results in terms of increased long- and short-term sales, a more loyal customer base, and a rare opportunity to achieve that desired status as a “preferred client,” with minimal cost and effort. As in all things, however, proper timing is critical.

This sales process begins just before Thanksgiving. With the traditional December holiday season, companies often send and receive Seasons Greetings cards to and from clients and vendors ad nauseum. There are often so many cards received at once that their meaning and intent are lost to the recipient due to sheer volume. The Christmas cards are quickly displayed, tossed, and forgotten. Herein lies a golden opportunity.

This incredible sales process must begin without fail on November 1. On or about this date, a company representative should go to the quick printer to review available Thanksgiving cards. Many of these cards are tasteful, upscale, and understated. The rep should have printed or written on these cards a brief message to the effect of “Thank you for the loyalty and support you have shown us this year. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. Respectfully,” and sign the company’s name.

Mail these personally signed cards no later than the first week in November. Clients are guaranteed to find these cards a pleasant, unexpected, and welcome surprise. The company that sends a Thanksgiving card has found a unique ways of thanking its customers for their business. This one move unquestionably puts the forward-thinking business in a position to enhance its position above that of its competitors.

However, to accomplish the goal of improving sales at this critical time of year, the work is not yet done. Exactly 1 week after the mailing, with a customer list and call report in hand, a company representative should call each customer. The idea is to quickly get to the point and ask the client if they received the Thanksgiving card. When they invariably reply in the affirmative, the company rep should pause briefly and tell them once again that the company appreciates their past loyalty and support, and wishes them a Happy Thanksgiving. Then they should close the conversation.

Clients will appreciate the thoughtful card, as well as the follow-up call. This will lead them to wonder why other contractors—the company’s competitors—did not call. Are they indifferent, ungrateful, or uncaring? It does not matter, because this one company alone showed class, sincerity, and an appreciation for work given. Guess who will now be “top of mind” when upcoming projects are awarded?

Still, there is more follow-up to be done as the sales process gets even better. When January 1 arrives and the doldrums of the first quarter begin, it is time to refer once again to the customer mailing list and call report. This is a perfect time to call clients and wish them a happy, healthy new year. The company representative who calls should briefly inquire to find out if any work is upcoming. If not, the client might be able to refer the rep to associates who do have upcoming work. As clients recall the thoughtful Thanksgiving gesture, they will certainly jump at the chance to help if they can. Whatever the reaction to this call, the representative should once again thank the clients for their time, and keep the conversation brief and professional.

If a company follows this proven sales technique, positive results will certainly happen. More importantly, the company has set the stage for the upcoming year.

Here’s another simple tip: If a business owner’s schedule will not allow for diligently following this sales process, he or she can delegate this most important task to a trusted subordinate.

Finally, fast-forward the daytimer to November 1 of the upcoming year and add a reminder to begin the process again. This highly effective sales technique can help a company maximize its efforts and empower its associates. This is just one easy way to take advantage of a simple sales technique that could pay off throughout the years.