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Doing Business During the Holidays

By David Ackert on December, 11 2014

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David Ackert

As if you weren't already busy enough, along come the holidays, and suddenly you must add another list of to-dos to your existing to-do list. Like you, I work hard to stay productive and yet I often have the experience that I'm unable to keep up with existing demands (let alone pursue potential opportunities). That's why I was so intrigued by a recent article from time management expert, Leo Babatua. In it, he made a distinction between "Fast Mode" (what you're doing right now) and Slow Mode.

Fast Mode is the state you are in when you're processing email, reacting to incoming needs, and making quick decisions.

Slow Mode is required for substantive writing, planning, conversing, or reflecting.

As much as we try, we can't simultaneously embody both modes.

When you are in Fast Mode, you will churn through unread emails, fire off quick responses, and delete unwanted messages. You will put off anything that requires a thoughtful reply. It will sit in your inbox until you can switch gears and enter a creative or contemplative state of mind. In Fast Mode, you can make quick decisions but it's almost impossible to make difficult ones.

This has business development implications for anyone trying to close a deal or solicit a buying decision around the end of the year. The holidays exacerbate our Fast Modes, adding personal travel, family stress, and shorter work weeks to the financial- and business-related year-end pressures. So any complicated decision (e.g., shall we switch advisors or engage another firm) will be put off until the New Year if at all possible. Most clients simply don't have the capacity this time of year to switch into Slow Mode, weigh all the pros and cons, and make a thoughtful decision.

So, as you are pursuing business opportunities this season, present your prospective clients with easy decisions:

- Would you like to attend our holiday party?

- Are you free for a holiday drink?

- I'll be in the neighborhood next week. Can I stop by to deliver a holiday gift?

These questions are fairly easy to answer in Fast Mode. Then, once you have a few minutes of their time, you can look for an opportunity to slow things down and circle back about that proposal you submitted back in October.

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