According to a National Federation of Independent Business October 2013 trends report, small business owners and entrepreneurs are pessimistic about the state of the U.S. economy. Combine this lack of optimism with the approaching holiday season, and even the most positive of independent contractors could find themselves in a state of panic.
Customers and prospects often get distracted with other objectives as the year winds down, and that may make it more difficult for you to connect with them. Losing face time (and phone time) with your customers, will impact sales if you haven’t planned ahead. So, if the economy has you stressed and your independent contractor business can’t take a hiatus over the holidays, try these tactics to help reach your business goals.
1. Double your efforts to schedule prospect calls and meetings. Being successful during a challenging time (our sluggish economy or the holiday season) means you need to work harder, plain and simple. Carve out more time in your day to ask prospects to meet, so you can schedule more appointments.
2. Seek out NEW networking opportunities. If you find yourself relying on the same networking groups for business, spread your wings so you can meet new people. There are plenty of holiday networking events out there, so try out one new group each week to see which organizations might be a good fit for your business offerings.
3. Take time to give back. Another excellent way to network (see No. 2 above) is by donating your time to charitable organizations. Choose charities that you have a passion for serving so your contributions are authentic. While it’s great to make new connections, doing something positive for others always feels good, plus many charities are in dire need today. If you can find a way to showcase your talents during your volunteer work, even better.
4. Stop by with holiday treats or gifts. Five minutes is better than none, so if you can’t get on your clients calendars for regular meetings, ask if you can stop by to drop off a holiday gift. Even if you’re unable to reach them, plan to stop by anyway and thank them for their business. This could give you an opportunity to schedule time with them in the coming weeks.
In either case, leave behind a holiday card, treat or gift that fits in your budget. Retailers who cater to independent consultants, solopreneurs and small businesses are making it easier than ever to find appropriate holiday gifts in all price ranges. Office Depot is making a big push earlier than ever this year with its holiday gifts promotion for small businesses.
5. Run a holiday promotion or contest. People love a good deal or freebie so stay in front of customers with an enticing offer. If you’re looking for referrals, offer a gift card or gift certificate for leads given by the end of the year. To entice customers to act now, you could offer a discount on your services if redeemed by a set date.
6. Sponsor a holiday get-together. If your budget allows, treat your customers and prospects to a festive party, luncheon or happy hour. Entice people to attend with drawings, prize giveaways, gift certificates for your services, etc. The event can provide another great opportunity to schedule future sales calls and garner new leads while promoting good will.
Keep in mind that many businesses have budgets that need to be spent by the end of the year, so now is not the time to slow down. Even if your efforts don’t pay off right away, your hard work during the last two months of the year will reap benefits in the new year.