Personal Finance

December is a month for closing, not selling

Christmas at an outlet mall
People shop for gifts a week before Christmas at an outlet mall in Commerce, California, billing itself as having the world’s tallest live-cut tree decorated and lit up for the festive season. PHOTO | AFP 

December not only closes the year but ‘hanging’ sales too. This week has been one of intense dedication to closing. In sales, closing means an exchange of money for your product, or acquiring a signature.

The dedication started in November, building momentum into December, and has been at full throttle this week. Parents earnestly seeking out and finalising on Form One placements for their children; private schools screaming from the rooftops that they have a placement from your child especially if you didn’t get one, or, the one you wanted; and niche private schools extending (or declining) payment deadlines for those they consider deserving (or not). And they all must do this if they are to hit the ground running in January in tandem with the parents; otherwise, they’ll be lucky to get suspects (the customers left), not prospects (those they need).

You see, December is short month; not that it’s incomplete, no. It has a full 31 days. It’s short because buyers spend most of them thinking of leisure, not professional activities. Alas! That is a luxury the seller cannot afford. Holiday destinations (for instance hotels) started closing in November. Suffice it to say the Madaraka Express was fully booked into December by then. Sellers do not have the luxury of booking appointments in December in the hope that they will close that sale. Sales managers and businesses are focused on one thing-bringing in the sheaves; striking whatever iron that is hot. For instance, parents finalising Form One placement is a red-hot iron compared to doing back to school shopping. What about you? What are you closing? You see, closing is a culmination of several activities in the sales cycle, repeated ad infinitum. Prospecting (seeking out potential buyers), interviewing, presenting, negotiating, handling objections (competently responding to queries like, ‘You are too expensive”); and, finally closing. The sad truth is that if you had not been intensely engaging in these activities over the past months then you are more likely in holiday mode than you are closing mode. And why? Because you have nothing to close. When everyone is talking about a final push to the end of the year you draw mental, and sales close statistic, blank.

Private schools started doing Form One interviews as early as July. Like-minded sales people have been prospecting, interviewing, presenting, negotiating, handling objections and attempting to close since January. December is the time to say things like, “Let’s finalise this now, as the prices will go up next year.”; or, “Unfortunately, if we don’t sign now, we will miss this discount as it is only valid until end month.” It is not the time to say, “Is a meeting next week on Thursday at 10am a good time to meet, or is Friday same time better? I’d like to present our product?” If the latter is your lingo, you have 2019 to amend that.

Merry Christmas!