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“No one needs snowmobiles in the summer”, or how to sell them in ” off-season»

A rare business does not refer to seasonality of sales. Like, no one needs snowmobiles in the summer, and swimsuits and flippers are not in demand in the winter. Sergey Kalinchuk, Director of the St. Petersburg office of SPN Communications, offers options for overcoming the problem of “off-season” and gives useful recommendations for finding non-standard solutions for sales
There is a temptation to evaluate this question as a rhetorical one with a programmed answer: “No, they say, no “off-season”, a talented salesman can sell snow to polar explorers in winter, and sand to Bedouins in the Arabian desert in summer.” However, sales are purely practical activities, so let’s go from real cases to theory, and not Vice versa, and refrain from making loud statements. And there are real cases that confirm that even in the conditions of a seasonal drop in demand, you can sell with no less success than in the “high” period of the year.

I remember two examples from practice.

The first is from the area of residential real estate.

Ten years ago, I participated in a tender for a creative project from a large construction company in St. Petersburg. At that time (as well as now), the question of seasonality in the client’s market was already included in my mandatory briefing program. I ask it even when I know the answer. What was my surprise when the customer in response to it confidently said: “And we have no seasonality, everything is sold the same regardless of the time of year and weather conditions.” “Let me tell you,” I said, ” but you developers consider the dead season to be summer, when people are more focused on recreation than on large purchases, such as an apartment, for example. Time and money are spent on other things in the summer, aren’t they?”So it is, but not quite,” the client replied, then told the story of how his company managed to outplay the wayward human nature for the benefit of the development of the construction market in St. Petersburg.

It turned out that a significant part of the buyers of the apartments they built — up to 30% of the total housing stock being built by the developer — were visitors from other regions. As a rule, these were residents of the regions of the Far North and the raw material territories of the TRANS-Urals, who earned enough long rubles on a rotational basis to be able to get housing in St. Petersburg and, sooner or later, move there for permanent residence.

Paradoxically, it is a fact that our rotten St. Petersburg climate, which causes nothing but sarcasm among the indigenous people, can, it turns out, be attractive to people who have lived for many years in even more severe weather conditions. These people made up the bulk of those who purchased apartments from our developer in the middle of the summer, that is, when they were not purchased by St. Petersburg residents.

Future residents of the Northern capital have quite long vacations in the summer (taking into account the benefits provided to those who work in extreme conditions). They often use this time to look into the future, evaluate their future purchase, and, if expectations coincide with reality, sign a contract with the developer. After all, no one buys an apartment spontaneously, without at least looking at the construction site, and at the same time at its surroundings, communications, and infrastructure. But since the potential buyer reached the city on the Neva river, which is no longer a passing light for him, and he liked everything, then you can make a decision and hit your hands — so that, as they say, you do not get up twice. And there were quite a lot of such buyers in the developer’s portfolio. Their flow was provided by relatively inexpensive (even by St. Petersburg standards) advertising campaigns in the regions, which were launched in March and lasted until may–June. Of course, since a good example is always even more contagious than a bad one, other St. Petersburg construction companies followed it, thus turning summer into another high season in their market.

Another story that comes to mind relates to a completely different industry — the trade in imported alcohol.

In a certain company that distributes funny drinks of different degrees of strength on the territory of Moscow and nearby regions, a significant remainder of bottles with ready-made mulled wine accumulated in a warehouse. Mulled wine is a winter and new year’s product, it is known to be drunk hot, and there was no point in trying to sell it in the summer due to the lack of demand. Even those who like to buy for the future still make decisions based on the actual capabilities of their warehouse, and none of the partners were particularly enthusiastic about the mulled wine that “hung” from the distributor since last year.

However, the warehouse had to be released for new products, and the company decided to get rid of the hateful mulled wine, offering it to its customers, usually companies in the HoReCa segment — at a significant discount.

What was the surprise of sales managers when “unseasonal” mulled wine in the middle of a hot summer not only went, as they say, in flight, but also led to additional orders, as buyers suddenly began to demand more and more. The investigation showed that the resourceful owners of cafes and restaurants, taking advantage of a discount on mulled wine from the distributor, in fact, offered their visitors a new drink-summer mulled wine, which was obtained from the traditional winter mulled wine by cooling rather than heating. The warming drink turned into a refreshing one, and the distribution company received excellent food for thought about what else such “out-of-season” could be sold to its greater benefit.

Both examples, despite the diabolical difference in the product, share the same approach to working with seasonal demand. If ” off-season “is the lack of demand from the traditional audience of a product during a certain period of the year, then you need to either find a different audience that can meet your need for this product only at the time of the year when all the others are” asleep”, or offer the traditional audience a variation of the product that corresponds to seasonal needs.

The second way is more difficult, because it involves creating these product variations, but, as the experience of a respected alcohol company that managed to make winter mulled wine a summer competitor of beer and sangria, the devil is not so terrible as it is painted, and all the “innovation” of the product can be reduced solely to changing the name and positioning. And this is often much easier to do than to bring a new product to market-especially in markets where most of the marketing is done through sales.

So “off-season” was invented by cowards, or rather, sloths who do not bother to look at their own business from an unusual angle. Avoid such people. And confidently sell in the “off-season”, so that no “off-season” was no more.

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