Reach into your file cabinet (or external hard drive) and take out your 2012 sales forecast. Now compare your predictions to reality. Are you doing better than anticipated? Not as good?
Either way, the next four weeks are critical to rounding out the year on a high note. Pay attention to the following sales tips and coast into the holidays with a smile.
Put a Bow on It
Make shopping easy for your time-strapped clients by bundling gifts in a buy-and-go format, recommends Kenny Jahng, founder of Big Click Syndicate, a marketing consultancy in Livingston, N.J. There's no need to buy more inventory for this—just look at your current offerings and put like-products together.
Jahng gives the example of a chocolate store. Instead of selling individual pieces of candy, he suggests creating baskets (and wrapping them) for $10 and $20.
“Put yourself in your customer’s shoes,” he says. “Right now, parents are looking for inexpensive gifts for their children’s teachers. A bundle of chocolates wrapped beautifully with an inexpensive pencil as part of the wrapping is a perfect gift.”
If your business is service-based (a spa, perhaps), try bundling treatments together. If you own a professional services firm (lawyer, CPA), try holding a year-end sale and offering a workshop, boot camp or consultative phone call to ready clients for 2013, Jahng offers.
Look for New Business
This is a great time to prospect for new business, says Wendy Weiss, president of Weiss Communications, a sales training and coaching consultancy in New York City.
“A lot of small-business owners will worry that they're bothering people if they call around this time of year, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” she says. “Many industries slow down before the holidays; potential clients may have more time to meet with you.”
Create a Mobile Website
Think back to the last time you searched for a business on your smartphone. You may have clicked on a link, realized the site wasn’t optimized for mobile and then spent the next 45 seconds trying to zoom in to read the text. Then, most likely, you clicked off with frustration.
Thankfully for small-business owners, there's a solution. Companies such as PagePart and DudaMobile are making it easier for micro businesses to create a mobile-optimized Web page quickly and affordably.
According to PagePart founder Randy Parker, retailers are netting about 35 percent of sales on mobile, and that number is rapidly increasing.
“Think if a third of your customers were coming in the back alley of your brick-and-mortar store instead of your beautiful front door,” says Parker. “Wouldn’t you be horrified if they were having a bad experience?”
The transition to a mobile website doesn’t have to be painful for entrepreneurs. At PagePart, for example, the company will use already existing information (via Twitter, Facebook, etc) and create what Parker calls a “stripped down, purposeful site that is optimized for mobile use cases.”
“And when you have a mobile site, your rate of customer acquisition will be much higher,” he says.
Host an Event
Try holding a pre-holiday event like a customer appreciation party, recommends Mike Byrnes, of Byrnes Consulting in Boston. Sales markdowns with food, drink and entertainment are guaranteed to resonate with your clients.
Make a Personal Call
Help make life easier for your clients by calling and offering personalized shopping advice, recommends Connie Kadansky, owner of Exceptional Sales Performance in Phoenix.
“Look at what your best clients have ordered in the past and reference those products or services in the call,” she suggests. “It may take a little planning and strategizing, but your customers will appreciate the effort.”
Read more posts about holiday sales.