When you work in B2B and hear the word “seasonality”, you may think that this term is applicable to the B2C area exclusively. Black Friday sales, Christmas sales, special offers for hot summers and autumn holidays - those techniques exist to make the most out of B2C sales because they work.
However, this assumption is not exactly correct. We don’t exist in a vacuum. Your company is run by humans and sells to humans, who are affected by seasonality.
If you think that your audience doesn’t depend on seasonal shifts, it still makes sense to research a bit. Maybe you’re missing a very important season that can turn the tables on your sales.
Intrigued? Then, it’s time to find out what seasonality is and how it applies to your B2B sales and marketing.
Why should you pay attention to seasonality?
Among all external factors that shape the buying decisions of your prospects, the weather is the most obvious one. It’s not just traveling or resorts that are affected. Road sweeping equipment, building, pest control…myriad of industries have to reckon with the change of seasons when planning their activity and purchases. Otherwise, they risk failing to meet their KPIs for a year and running at a deficit. So, if you specialize in street road repair equipment, you know that your customers need your products before summer begins. No one is going to buy durapatchers in the middle of July when the demand for road renovations is the highest.
Also, if you work across several regions, make sure that your outreach schedule covers weather conditions and the peak season for each region. This way, you won’t end up pouring your marketing budget into hit and miss campaigns.
Business trips, face-to-face meetings, events...both you and your B2B prospects have to leave the office to get the job done. Not paying attention to your prospects’ travel schedules won’t let you calculate your outreach correctly, resulting in a lot of unanswered emails. Researching your ICP will give you an idea as to when is the best time to reach out to your prospects, and when they’re Out Of Office because of seasonality. Additionally, you can ask your prospects about their schedule.
Also, let‘s not forget the vacation or school seasons. Yes, your prospects have families to take care of. While you can’t ask your prospects about family matters, your ICP should provide you with a portrait of your average customer and let you predict your prospects’ behavior. So, if you are a small business and your average customer is married, between 35-45 years old and has children, chances are they are going to be busy in autumn. Therefore, it makes sense to put outreach campaigns for this segment of your target audience on hold and start exploring new opportunities.
All companies outline their yearly budgets. If their planned budget doesn’t include investing in a new vendor, there is no point in you reaching out to them and sending your unique value proposition.
Know when your prospects reach their final quarter and start setting their budget for the next cycle. It’s a perfect moment for you to put your products or services in front of them.
The end of the calendar year is also the time when your prospects become particularly proactive. First of all, when you’re searching for new potential buyers, your potential buyers are looking for prospective vendors to work within the upcoming year. Second, in some areas, there are taxes, insurance specifics, and end-of-the-year benefits to consider.
Sales seasonality: find it, make it, profit
1. Look at your sales data
This should be your first logical step when outlining your seasonality. Gather the sales data from somewhere between 3 and 5 years. When you have it all processed and laid out in front of you, take a good look at your peaks, your best months and your worst months. We promise that your sales history will reveal all the positive and negative fluctuations.
This would be your first clue about your highest seasons and the months that generate the largest number of customers and profits.
2. Quantify your seasonal trends
Your business is growing. While it’s a good thing, it can hinder your perception. For example, if your sales for November 2019 look better than the sales for December 2018, don’t be in a hurry to pour your marketing budget into November. Maybe, your business has grown.
To avoid jumping to conclusions, you need to do a “seasonal adjustment”. Create a spreadsheet for the period you’re interested in and calculate the sales for each month divided by average annual sales. Do the same for every other month. This will let you evaluate the volume of your seasonal swings. Of course, this method of seasonal adjustment may overwhelm you with numbers, so you can also use software like X-13.
3. Know when to take initiative
Sometimes, hot seasons don’t occur by themselves, not without your help, at least.
How do you prepare for slow seasons? Do you focus your prospecting efforts and marketing activities in the months before the slow period? When do your sales teams go on vacation or take days off?
As always, your data and your understanding of the processes within and beyond your company. Even the negative kind of data. Knowing when your sales are going to drop allows you to create seasonal trends of your own, gathering enough leads and profit to make up for the upcoming slow seasons.
If you’d love to learn more about slow seasons, we’ll be exploring them in our upcoming post soon enough.
What do you think about seasonal trends? How do you perform seasonal adjustment? Want to learn more about slow seasons? Send us a message and let us know!