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The december dip: why sales outreach shouldn’t hibernate

Posted on: October 24, 2023

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Category: Prospecting

The December Dip: Why sales outreach shouldn’t hibernate

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How to keep generating B2B leads in the typically slow month of December, and why you should use the quieter sales seasons to get ahead of competitors.

As December looms, it’s time we talk turkey about the potential end-of-year lull. The winter months are a season of festive joy for many, but can also be a tricky period for B2B businesses navigating the chilly waters of seasonal change.

So let’s get our skates on and carve out a plan to not just survive, but flourish, during the infamous December Dip.

What is the December Dip?

If you love a festivity or two, October to December is probably your favourite time of year. From Halloween to Fireworks, Thanksgiving to Christmas, the season is packed with reasons to be cheerful.

Sure the long sunny days of summer are nice, but who doesn’t love cosy evenings, hot chocolate and big jumpers?

But if you work in B2B sales or marketing, you may be feeling the start of a sales slowdown that comes at this time of year.

December can be a tough time for sales teams. As buyer’s minds drift to other things and start to wind down, looking forward to their Christmas break. From customers to prospects, even your own employees, some feel the relevant people aren’t in the office, and productivity is low.

Deals can take longer to close. It’s clearly scary when sales aren’t increasing at the rate you expect, while watching the marketing spend continue. Because of this, a lot of businesses choose to hibernate: pausing all or most marketing spend and prospecting activity during December.

In this blog, we’ll look at why that idea – although it seems logical – is actually a dangerous course to take, and how you can make the most of the December Dip. 

How can you beat the December Dip?

We asked B2B businesses what they do in seasonal slowdowns. Most of these will get you on the naughty list:

  • 42% of businesses do nothing proactive
  • 31% switch activity from marketing and sales to admin or planning
  • 10% cut back on agency staff, advertising or spend
  • 10% scheduled work to take place before or after the slump
  • 14% of businesses decided to move their focus from sales to filling their lead gen funnels
  • 10% simply aimed to ‘hit harder’ (which sounds like a different way of saying “we have no plans”)

If you choose to hibernate your sales and marketing activity, you can’t expect quick results when you pick it back up again.

To state the obvious: no prospecting means no leads. If you stop reaching out to potential customers, you’ll cut off your lead flow and not generate new sales opportunities.

But the effect of pausing activity goes beyond that. A good prospecting campaign involves a sequence of messages, with follow ups sent at the perfect time to remind and encourage a prospect into action. Our data repeatedly shows that in prospecting campaigns, most positive responses come from follow ups.

And like a bear emerging from it’s den in spring, it takes some time getting a dormant campaign up to full speed.

Let’s use Sopro as an example. After all, 60% of our new business comes from our own prospecting service.

Consistent prospecting throughout autumn saw our lead rate stay stable throughout the period and into the new year. The leads we generated in December had the second highest close rate that year, and 25% of our January sales came from leads generated in that period.

And that December prospecting also set us up for a bumper January, which saw lead volumes 19% higher than the six month average.

December Dip bitesize video

How to keep your B2B leads flowing in the December Dip

Look, we’re not saying the downturn isn’t real for many. Just as retail sales are hotting up, B2B businesses might start to see a cooldown.

It’s true that some prospective customers may be less responsive to your sales outreach – they could be over their budget or just occupied by Christmas party planning. But there are some things you can do to keep those B2B leads flowing, and we’ll reveal all below.

1. Keep prospecting

Keep prospecting and keep up the momentum. Some sales teams might have exceeded their budgets for the quarter, but others may well have a surplus they need to spend before the year is out.

Lots of sales and marketing teams plan their strategy for the new year now, so it’s the perfect time to get on their radar.

Keeping on with your prospecting activity will also keep you front of mind come January. And if you get a dreaded Out of Office? Then you have the exact date they’re back from their holiday… schedule a follow up a couple of days after they’re back and start up the conversation with a rested prospect with a reset budget.

2. Run a December promotion

Get into the festive spirit, keep your message topical, or offer a discount or incentive. Running a time-sensitive deal can give hesitant prospects a push, encouraging them to commit now rather than wait for a new season. 

3. Get gifting

Everyone loves a pressie, and ‘tis the season for giving after all. If you’ve got some top prospects who haven’t converted yet, sending a gift can be a small gesture that pays big. Just make sure to include a personal note.

Sopro’s multichannel prospecting service allows you to embrace the gift of giving. Stand out from the crowd during the festive season with a little gift that can go a long way.

4. Put your sales team on the nice list

Incentivise and reward your sales team during this time. Like your prospective customers, your team will be looking forward to the upcoming festive break, and as they push a little harder to keep up their sales during December, it’s important to make sure they feel valued and rewarded.

Remember, remember, when selling in December … 

If you stand firm and keep the sales and marketing ball rolling in December, you’ll reap the benefits when the calendar flips to January. But, if you do notice a bit of a lull, there’s no need to hit the panic button. Instead, double down on maximising your current pipeline. Here are some tips to keep things running smoothly.

Don’t mind the Out of Office replies 

We’ve all seen auto-replies increase at this time of year, but they’re not necessarily a stop sign. If someone’s away, simply pause your outreach and set a reminder for their return. Hit the snooze button on your outreach.

Make sure you have a team over the festive period

Sure, your prospects might be off sipping mulled wine, but that doesn’t mean your team should be. Ensure you’ve got adequate cover over the festive period. If the Grinch worked through Christmas, so can the sales team.

Focus on the leads that will convert

When fewer leads are coming in, you need to focus on the ones most likely to convert. Lead scoring lets you assign value to prospects according to how far they have moved from expressing initial interest to revealing purchase intent.

Create great content for your buyers

Got some extra time? Spruce up your sales collateral and marketing materials. A good sales enablement content strategy helps entice new leads and keep them flowing through the funnel.

Get upselling

With end-of-year bonuses on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to focus on upselling. Whether it’s with existing clients or new prospects, increasing the deal size can balance out any slowdown in deal numbers.

Spread the joy with referrals

A good referral programme can improve the number and quality of leads going into your sales funnel at a fraction of the cost of some other channels. Whether you introduce a formal programme or encourage account managers to discuss it with current clients, the benefits can be great – lower cost per acquisition, longer customer lifetime, and higher quality leads to name just three.

Optimise your outreach

If you do see a slowdown in lead flow, now might be the perfect time to test some of your methods. Prospecting is a great channel for testing. That could be your targeting: prospect location, job titles and industries. Or it could be the execution of your campaigns: different channels, gifts, subject lines, message content, and sequencing can all be tested, with results back really quickly. .

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