Some businesses almost make an audible sound of relief as they ring in the New Year. Truth be told, not all businesses fare well during holiday shopping madness. For retailers, year-end is often the busiest time of year for sales. For service providers, however, a slow season from Thanksgiving to New Years is almost expected… But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are five tips you can implement right away to avoid the dreaded holiday sales slump. As luck would have it, these tips can also be implemented any other time you’re experiencing a major sales nosedive.
1. Use Seasonal Content Marketing to Your Benefit
People crave content, especially related to things going on in the here and now, like holidays and current events. Christmas and New Years (or any other holiday or major event) can provide major opportunities to cash in on content people are already searching for.
A recent study from Outbrain indicates that people not only spend more money during the holidays, but also consume more digital content. So much content, in fact, that the demand is greater than the supply.
Think about two basic things: what your customers need and what they’re already searching for online. For example, a couple good content ideas for the new year if you’re a business service provider might be: “5 Business Resolutions for the New Year That Will Transform Your Business” or “5 Quick Ways to Avoid a Sales Slump During the Holidays”. (See what I did there!?)
2. Master Your Upsell
Upselling and cross-promoting are good sales practices any time of the year, but they can be especially useful for bringing in cold hard cash when you’re going through a slump. It’s much easier to sell an existing customer an additional product than it is to drum up an entirely new customer.
If you’re new at upselling, it’s best to keep your upsale options limited. More is not always better, and can confuse the customer. Offering one or two upgrades or add-ons is more effective than offering a bevy of options.
Business experts also suggest bundling your products or services to make the upsell. The likelihood that a customer will purchase multiple services increases if they can do it in one purchase, as opposed to multiple purchases. For example, if you can offer a package that includes social media, email marketing, and SEO, you’re more likely to make the sale than if you try to sell them separately.
3. Ramp Up Your Referral Discounts
The holiday season is an opportunity for demonstrating your gratitude to your clients, customers, and business contacts. When you’re experiencing a sales slump, it’s a good time to make a list of your valued clientele and business providers.
In addition to sending your valued clients a tasteful holiday greeting, you can also ramp up your referral discounts to drum up a bit of extra business. If your business contacts feel appreciated, they’re a lot more likely to send people your way.
Freeman Lewin, CEO of corporate gift company Gimmee Jimmy’s Cookies, talked about the effectiveness of referral discounts by saying, “The one thing that makes successful companies stand out from the rest is how they treat their customers and peers. Never underestimate the power of referral discounts and appreciation.”
4. The Power of PR & Self-Promotion
The one good thing about going through a sales slump is that it gives you extra time to focus on your PR and branding. Too often business spend every waking hour pleasing their customers (which is a good business practice, no doubt), but much to the detriment of their own marketing.
There’s no time like a sales slump to revamp your marketing and PR campaigns. Never be afraid to toot your own horn. If you have positive customer testimonials, share them. If you’ve recently won an award or been featured in a business magazine, flaunt it. Perception is reality and how customers perceive your brand can make or break a buying decision. Shameless self-promotion doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
5. Refine Your Sales Process
When was the last time you really performed an audit on your sales process? Is the way you’re drumming up business really that effective? Take the time you’re in a sales slump to measure the return on investment for your key sales activities and make changes where necessary.
You just might find that you can eliminate those cold calls after all, and get higher conversion rates with warm marketing. Refining your sales process to include only the activities that generate a high return can not only get you out of the holiday slump, but also increase your profit the rest of the year.
Bonus Tip: Followup, Followup, Followup
Followup should be a standard sales practice all year round, but it’s one that most people miss. There’s no time like the end of the year to reach out to contacts you’ve talked to throughout the year and find out if the timing is right for collaboration. Leading with something of value, such as a related case study or trending news story, is always the best followup option, rather than just calling and asking for business.
Think Outside the Box
While your business is idling, chances are there are others looking around for opportunities to expand. The holiday season is the best time to reach out to new and existing contacts and see what opportunities you can bring to each other. Be flexible. There’s no time like the present to explore new avenues for sales and examine new ideas. Think outside the box.
About the Author: Blair Nicole is a PR & Media Relations guru by profession and a writer by choice. She’s a contributor at Elite Daily, Social Media Today, Examiner, and Inquisitr, among others. She’s a full time traveling nomad and sits on the Board of Directors for 3 non-profits. Her motto is ‘kick ass, don’t kiss it.’ www.Blair-Nicole.com