While companies choose to kick back in December and January, the scramble to recover two lost calendar months weighs strongly on the bottom line and can have a devastating impact when looking to make your end-of-year targets.
This is the view of Louise Robinson, sales and marketing manager of CG Consulting, who believes that companies are doing themselves an injustice by not using the time over the holiday season to secure time with executives that at other times of the year are simply too busy to talk to your salespeople.
"There is a perception in South Africa that people are just not available in December and January, which is truly a myth," she says. "Yes, a lot of people do take their annual leave over this time, and there is a slowdown in activity, but it should rather be seen as an opportunity as many busy executives suddenly have time in their diaries to engage with your salespeople."
In the experience of CG Consulting, the best time to get into the diaries of people is in December and January. This is because many projects are designed to come to an end at this time, projects aren't started but rather placed on the back burner for the middle to end of January, and executives are more likely to be in the office over this period.
In addition, South Africans who do not work as part of a multinational, often forget that the rest of the world does not "shut down" over this period.
According to Robinson: "The summer period in South Africa is a time where people are less likely to make decisions, but are more likely to look at what they need in the year to come. A lot of planning is done in this time and, while many staffers take time off, we have seen that managers man their desks as they prefer to take their leave at a time when they really feel they need it."
It is against this backdrop that CG Consulting advises many of its clients to work out programmes to encourage sales in the new year. This includes the setting up of appointments and developing sales-driven campaigns to kick off in the new year, as well as taking the time out to cleanse and update databases that are used to
promote these activities.
While the rest of the year is used as a platform to chase sales and promote a company to drive the bottom line, the lull period should be used as a period to rebuild, regroup, reorganise and plan ahead.
"Within the landscape of the current economic crisis and the looming recession few companies can afford the luxury of kicking back for two months and hoping that things will pick up on their return," says Robinson. "I strongly encourage my clients to look at ways in which to build their future strategies over this time so that they hit the ground running in mid-January."