The holidays are a great time to connect with the customers and partners you value most.

As the business world winds down for the final weeks of the year, we salespeople have a great opportunity to call our clients, prospects, strategic partners & key vendors to express our gratitude for their support in the prior year, wish them a happy holiday, and best wishes for an even better year ahead.

The reason for doing so should be obvious – a brief conversation with someone that you do business with for the purpose of wishing them happiness & good fortune is, well…..good business.

Notice the words “call” and “conversation” above. It is important that you call and not email. Everyone receives lots of email holiday greetings that feel empty because the recipient knows it is automated and impersonal. That’s why we suggest you don’t send your holiday greetings via email. If your company does it automatically, then be like your customers and ignore it.

While a face-to-face visit is ideal, that may not be practical due to the limitations of time and geography. Placing a phone call is perfectly acceptable. When you speak with someone – even over the phone – you more fully express the sincerity of your emotions. Listed below are a few specific tactics to use when placing holiday calls to your professional network:

Existing Clients:

Your clients are the cornerstone of your professional network. They paid your bills last year and will hopefully continue to do so into the future. They also serve as references for new business opportunities, and provide referrals when the occasion is appropriate. You should literally treat them like gold!

Here’s a question that you need to answer honestly: When was the last time you made contact with an existing client for the sole purpose of thanking them for helping you? Thanking them for their business is not the same thing. There is a subtle, but important difference. Thanking your clients for helping you makes it personal, and most people like to help people.

Pick up the phone and call your top clients. If you get them on the phone then that is great, but you’ll likely get their voice mail. Instead of hanging up, leave this message (or something similar):

“Hi Suzanne, it’s Doug. I’m calling for 2 reasons….first, to wish you a happy holiday and all the best for the new year ahead! I also want to thank you for all that you’ve done for me during this past year. I know that you have a lot of responsibilities and yet you always make time for me when I call. I really appreciate that Suzanne. It means a lot to me. I hope you have fun and get some well-deserved rest over the holiday, and I look forward to speaking with you in the New Year.”

This is obviously just one example. You should substitute “…you always make time for me when I call” with whatever you are grateful to that client for. Again, it shouldn’t be for that last big order they placed. Perhaps, they asked a lot of you in the past year, but it made you better at your job. Maybe it was fielding a bunch of requests for referrals. Whatever it is, sincerely thank them for it.

Prospects:

People generally buy from people they know, like and trust. A year-end holiday call is a great way to strengthen the “know” and “like” parts of this buying equation. A message of this type to your top prospects should be light & friendly. For example:

“Hi Amy, it’s Rob from XYZ Corp (only include your company name if the prospect relationship is new). I want to wish you a wonderful holiday season & only great things for you in the New Year. I hope you have fun and get some well-deserved rest over the holiday, and I look forward to speaking to you in the New Year.”

It’s important that you don’t leave your phone number. The point of the call is for you to send your best wishes without any expectations in return.

Strategic Partners:

Your relationships with your strategic partners are as important to the long term health of your business as the relationships you maintain with your clients. You collaborate together. You sell and service clients together. Your strategic partners are a critical extension of your business. Your holiday wishes should sound similar (yet not identical) to the calls you make to your clients:

“Hi Diane, it’s Mark. I’m calling for 2 reasons….first, to wish you happy holidays & all the best for a great New Year! Also, I want you to know how much I thoroughly enjoyed working with you and your team during this past year. It’s been both fun & gratifying, and I look forward to more of the same in the year ahead! I hope you have fun and get some well-deserved rest over the holiday, and I look forward to speaking to you in the New Year.”

Try to reference a shared success that will make your strategic partner smile when they recall it. This will deepen their desire to collaborate and sell/service more new deals with you in the New Year.

Preferred Vendors:

Every business has clients, competition and suppliers/vendors. Yet, we sometimes think of our suppliers/vendors as occupying a lower rung on our business ecosystem’s ladder than our clients, partners & competitors. The end of the calendar year is the perfect time to recognize and thank the people or businesses that we buy from. They’ll be thrilled to hear from you since you aren’t calling with a complaint or a request for a price concession!

“Hi Valerie, it’s Doug from Sales Growth. I wanted to wish you happy holiday and all the best for a great New Year! I also want to thank you for the exceptional service you’ve provided to Sales Growth during this past year. You always make us feel that our company is your biggest and most important customer. That means a lot to me, Valerie. I hope you have fun and get some well-deserved rest over the holiday. I’m looking forward to working with you in the New Year.”

This type of message will push your business to the front of the line with the vendors you do business with. Why? It’s highly unlikely that their other customers appreciate their hard work enough to call and wish them a happy holiday.

People rarely remember what you say or do, unless those words or actions make them feel a strong emotion. Placing a sincere call to your most important business contacts at this time of year will likely leave a lasting impression.

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