Already been ghosted by a few prospects this holiday season? You’re not alone, and it might not be because they’re not interested. Planning, budgetary shifts, and vacation are all reasons we lose track with prospects at the end of the year — but it matters how and when you follow up in January.
To help, I’ve outlined nine tips for re-engaging with prospects and clients after the new year. None of them lead with a hard sell, and each of them centers around offering value to your prospect. Incorporate these tips into your Q1 sales strategy and see what they can do for your number.
9 Ways to Re-Engage with Prospects After the Holidays
Reconnecting with Existing Clients
1. Start before the holidays.
Something you can do to ensure you can restart your relationships with your clients after the holidays is to organize meetings before the holidays begin. That way, you already have time set aside for the crucial conversations that happen during Q1, and you also show your clients that you’re not going to forget about them once the new year comes around.
2. Reach out immediately.
If you’ve taken time off during the holidays, it’s essential to reach out to your clients as soon as the holidays are over to remain top of mind. You don’t want to take so long that they think you’ve forgotten about them and decide to pursue solutions elsewhere.
If they email you, make it a priority to respond. If you’re initiating outreach, make it a priority as soon as you’re back in office.
3. Recap your relationship from the previous year.
To re-engage with your existing clients, it can be helpful to recap your relationship from the previous year and all that you’ve accomplished together.
This helps your clients see all the ways that your partnership has helped them succeed, and they can visualize how they’ll continue to achieve in the coming year through your partnership.
4. Ask how you're doing.
It’s also essential to ask your clients their perception of your relationship over the past year. This way, you can learn about their opinions of the previous year and anything that they wish to change in the coming year so you can continue a partnership that will be successful for everyone.
Once your client is on the phone, learn what they liked about your company last year and ask for areas where you can improve. Then, use their answers to share new features, upgrades, or next steps. By doing this, you’re listening and offering additional services that will help them grow.
You can also opt for a simple voicemail or email saying, “[Prospect name], I’d love to talk to you in January to learn what we did well last year and how we can better serve you in the new year.”
5. Identify their priorities for the year.
Get a sense of client marketing cadence, trade show schedules, and product/feature roadmaps for the year. When you know what clients have prioritized, you can plan outreach accordingly and offer what they need before they know they need it.
If a client schedules a series of marketing events in the Midwest, you’d know to call them a month or two before their first event to say, “I know it’s important for your company to expand its reach in the Midwest in 2022. In anticipation of that growth and your upcoming events, I’d like to talk to you about X service that can help.”
By planning your sales around their calendar, you’ll increase the likelihood of success and become an integral part of their priorities for the year.
6. Learn about their hiring plans.
Talk to a contact in HR/Recruiting to learn your client’s hiring plans for the year. If their response is, “We should have four positions in our customer support team filled by Q2,” you’ve discovered a few things. First, you know customer support is a priority.
Second, you know there’s an executive pushing for these new hires. Now it’s your job to learn why customer service is an important focus, how invested that executive is (i.e., can you speak directly to the decision-maker), and what other initiatives they’ve devoted resources to this year.
When you know what positions a company’s hiring for, you can anticipate your next move as a salesperson. If a client is changing trucking vendors next summer and needs new team members onboarded by then, time your sales outreach appropriately to ease or enhance that onboarding process.
That way, instead of rehashing needs your client had in Q4, you can discuss fresh strategies for the new year and position yourself as a forward-thinking ally.
Reconnecting With Prospects
7. Pay close attention to those that have signed up during the holiday season.
EOY can be busy for everyone, you and your prospects included. After the holidays, pay close attention to prospects that may have signed up during the holiday season and slipped under the radar during your EOY activities.
8. Position yourself ahead of competitors.
Prospects who have concerns in Q4 usually don’t have worries in Q1. You can use that as an advantage to position yourself as a partner and expert in their yearly planning. You can give them space at the end of Q4 and ask about pain points and challenges once Q1 rolls around.
For example, suppose a prospect was swamped with end-of-year paperwork in December. In that case, I’d follow up in January and offer solutions like, “You know, I talk to a lot of teams with similar problems, and I’ve been able to reduce their annual paperwork by 50% with our solution.”
Because you didn’t overwhelm them in Q4, and because you’ve proactively followed up in Q1, you’re uniquely positioned to offer solutions that will save them from the same fate next year.
This also makes it harder for competitors to poach their business. You’ve already become a valuable and solution-oriented part of the prospect’s planning and decision-making processes.
If you already understand the strategic initiatives your prospect is focused on for the year, you’re well-positioned to continue as a partner and vendor.
9. Reach out to new hires.
Many companies hire aggressively at the first of the year. If a deal stalls in Q4, you should use January to breathe new life into it. How? Schedule meetings with new hires. The easiest meeting you can book is with a new employee because they’re so eager to provide value to their company.
Ask your champions who they’ve recently hired and target departments where your deal is stuck. This is also a smart way to reach influencers. Many times, the title for a new hire hasn’t caught up with their actual duties. You might reach out to a marketing manager who’s acting more as a director — without the title or red tape associated with their role.
Say, “I know you just started here X weeks ago, but I’ve been talking to a few folks on the [insert team name] team, and I’d love to know if this is relevant to your job.” Because your prospect is new, they’re looking for solutions, not objections. So if they hear anything promising, they’re likely to jump on it.
As a bonus, new hires are often treated like a guest visiting Grandma’s house. They aren’t challenged as much as veteran employees, so you can make bold demands through them.
But remember, you don’t want to work around your champion. It’s best to ask, “I know you just hired several engineers, can you tell me which department they work in?” If your champion isn’t willing to help, it’s likely the deal is already dead and you should move on. However, if they give you the contact information for these new hires, it can be the oxygen necessary to bring your deal back to life.
If a deal is truly dead, be honest and unafraid of purging those accounts/deals throughout the month. Free up your time and pipeline to welcome new deals full of promise in the new year.