Hail Mary Time: Last Ditch Sales Strategies to Close Out the Year
It’s the last quarter of the year. While sales numbers remain above the water, the pressure is on. The upcoming holiday season can determine if this will be a good year or a great one. As you gather the sales team for the season’s last rally, what do you say? How do you motivate your team to make that final push that puts your sales over the top? More importantly, what sales strategies will you share to galvanize the troops?
Sales teams know that the last three months of the year bring plenty of opportunities to keep the cash registers ringing. Outside of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are two traditional sales events scheduled during the last quarter: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Retailers hope to clear inventory, beef up their online stores and improve their brand recognition leading up to Christmas. As a result, you see exclusive promos, deep discounts and wild, once-in-a-lifetime deals during these days.
Together, all these holidays and sales events in the fourth quarter present a chance for brands to grab the spotlight. Having a great product, a responsive storefront (brick-and-mortar or online) and excellent customer service can give you a significant boost in market share.
Of course, your rivals are thinking the same thing. So, you need to be ready with stellar sales strategies to generate incredible sales numbers.
Year-End Sales and Marketing Challenges: What Businesses Typically Encounter
Generating more sales will require more effort for businesses. For one, they’ll need to keep stores open longer to accommodate more customers. Plus, they’ll need to make sure shelves are stocked, staff are ready and point-of-sales systems are running.
Solving the inventory problem in the middle of the holiday season is an impossible task. Instead, you should plan way ahead to give your business partners enough time to fill your needs.
Use your historical sales data to project demand for the holiday season. Plan deliveries better by incorporating the usual holiday issues: heavier traffic, competition for freighters and receiving goods after-hours.
Not paying attention to your stock replenishment process can create problems that can snowball into an unmanageable mess. Late deliveries lead to missed opportunities. Empty shelves won’t inspire customers to return.
Extending your store hours doesn’t necessarily mean extending your staff’s work hours. We’re not just talking about the sales staff or counter personnel. You’ll also need to foresee increased work for the warehouse and delivery team.
Most of the time, it’s more efficient to add seasonal workers than ask everybody to stay longer each day. But offering them compensation that matches what others offer won’t make them loyal or even motivated. It’s not just the money, either. An opportunity to learn, career advancement or even non-monetary perks are also great ways to attract staff. Just make sure your anticipated revenue can safely cover the overhead.
Managing Cash Flow
Managing your accounts is also critical if your business plans to survive the holiday season. A positive cash flow ensures that you have enough money to cover stock deliveries, contractor services and additional sales staff. It also means that you’ll still have the resources to push through any unforeseen circumstances like bad weather.
When gearing up for the holiday season, make sure you have enough cash reserves to cover your additional expenses. Having an efficient collection system and emergency reserves can help tide you through the busy holiday season.
In addition, be careful when making projections for holiday sales. Overconfident assumptions can lead to unrealistic projections. This then leads to overstocked items that nobody wants. You end up with a lot of unsold inventory plus a dejected sales team.
Hail Mary Sales Strategies for Year-End Sales and Marketing Success
To make the most of the busy holiday season, you need proven sales strategies. These strategies can help address seasonal challenges and bring renewed life to your sales and marketing efforts.
Leverage Holiday Season Trends
Keeping track of the holidays is a great way to keep your brand relevant. Obviously, you can’t market a Halloween-themed product for Christmas, or Thanksgiving items for Halloween. But unless you’re selling a holiday-specific product such as Christmas trees or jack-o’-lanterns, you can customize your products or campaign to fit the upcoming holiday.
Integrating holidays in your marketing and sales strategies will require some advanced planning and execution. More and more people are shopping earlier for Christmas gifts. This gives your brand the leverage to launch a pre-Christmas sale as soon as the “ber” months arrive.
Another popular and thoughtful way to add seasonal cheer to every order is to provide themed gift wrappers. Customers greatly appreciate Christmas-themed packaging or gift wraps as it saves them the trouble of rewrapping items to fit the occasion.
Offering early deliveries can also alleviate headaches from late arrivals or packages caught in the holiday rush.
Maximize Existing Client Relationships
Retaining customers is four to five times less expensive than looking for new ones. During the frenetic holiday season, getting your regulars to automatically buy from you can help you channel your limited resources into added value.
Have your customer service team available to hear the concerns of panic-stricken buyers. Offer exchanges or refunds for mistaken purchases to help shoppers complete their gift list. Supporting your customers during the tumultuous Christmas rush can go a long way toward making them more loyal to your brand.
The goal is to reduce your customers’ holiday stress. Serious gift-givers take pains in planning, shopping for, wrapping and sending their gifts. Offering your assistance in any or all of these stages can gain their trust—and increase their spending.
One way to nurture client relationships is to recommend items based on their purchase history. Buyers tend to lean toward certain themes or items. Giving them a suggested list of related products can help them complete their shopping list faster. Offering frequent customers discounts, free wrapping or free delivery can also reduce their worries over packaging and sending their gifts in time for the holidays.
Navigate Budget Constraints
One potential downside to the Christmas season is that buyers also feel the crunch of lower budgets. As a result, sales teams will also struggle with customers who have less money to spend.
Inflation has taken a big bite out of the dollar’s purchasing power over the last two years. Despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tame inflation, prices of goods and services remain high with no major relief in sight.
One effect of the economic crunch is that customers want value-laden products, not just name brands. But offering across-the-board discounts during the holiday sales season will tank your revenue. Instead, highlight your brand’s value proposition to show why your products and services are worth the cost.
Of course, you’ll want to use your budget wisely, too. When running a campaign, target your established customer base to ensure you get an updated reading on their wants and preferences. This can help the marketing team gather curated content that will promote the brand more effectively.
Adapt to Consumer Expectations
When presenting solutions, make sure they align with customer expectations. And we don’t just mean their expectations of the products and services you offer. It’s also about how solutions get presented.
Today’s generation of buyers have little interest in developing deep relationships with their sales representatives. Instead, the internet provides instant access to key information that buyers find helpful to their decisions.
Customers then contact the sales team at the last stages of the sales cycle, once they’ve formed an opinion about the solution they want. As a result of this new dynamic, buyers now have control over the sales process, not the sales rep.
When pressed for detailed information about their solutions, sales teams should be ready to provide a digital response. Customers want a faster, more responsive way to get the data they need to come up with an educated decision. Sales teams can meet this need by hopping on a video call or sending complete sales presentations over the cloud.
Manage Seasonal Stress
Not all sales strategies involve the customer. A good way to keep the troops fresh and highly motivated is to keep their stress levels down. Of course, this is easier said than done considering the frantic nature of the holiday season.
Give Them Space
A sales job is often high-pressure, so give your team a chance to blow off some steam at the end of the day. For instance, try to limit work to within regular business hours. Don’t schedule team meetings after hours. By respecting boundaries and avoiding constant sales pressure, you can keep your team balanced for the long haul.
Provide Help When Asked
At some point, your sales reps will struggle to close deals. So, make yourself available to your sales team for consultation and advice. Patiently answer their questions and give them honest feedback on why sales are stagnant.
Tough times are great coaching opportunities. When things aren’t going well, most sales agents become more willing to listen to advice or try new sales tactics.
Revisit Marketing and Sales Strategies
When the team is clocking losses left and right, it might be a good time to see if your sales strategies are working. Are you pushing name recognition to value-obsessed buyers? Are you targeting the wrong market segment? Or are you focusing on customer acquisition when you should be solidifying retention?
When revisiting your sales strategies, don’t rely on anecdotal information or a collective gut feeling. Instead, gather your numbers and extract the insights from them. This helps you pinpoint where and when things went south. Insights can also help the team come up with solutions to the problem at hand.
Competition Escalation: Staying Ahead
Any increase in your market share will immediately provoke a reaction from your competition. Especially on a busy end-of-the-year season, they won’t just hand over their hard-earned share of the market that easily.
To prevent them from threatening your success, you’ll need to strengthen your customer relationships. Beef up customer service and aim for the whole team to become highly responsive and more empathetic.
Most importantly, listen to your customers’ feedback and take them seriously. They know why they choose certain products over other brands. They can also shed light on which products or services need further improvements and which ones should be dropped on the next iteration.
Crafting Your Year-End Strategy: Key Components and Sales Presentation Tips
The choice of sales presentation software is a key component when crafting your year-end strategy. You should always go for cloud-based systems that promote interactivity and collaboration no matter where each team member is located. In addition:
- Make Sure You Have a Complete Solution: Presenting a solution that only addresses parts of the problem isn’t an actual solution. Coming up with half-baked ideas or incomplete answers will only motivate buyers to look elsewhere.
- Close All Open-Ended Transactions: During your year-end campaigns, be sure to close all open-ended transactions so you don’t miss out on any opportunity. If customers are too busy to take your calls, send them an interactive presentation that can monitor and record their reactions.
- Make Your Presentations Interactive: Sales presentations aim to tell a story. But setting your story in a linear direction might limit the content. Interactive objects that display additional content take the story in multiple directions. They also make things more interesting and engaging for audiences.
The Right Sales Strategies Depend on the Right Presentation Software
When creating sales presentations for your clients (whether year-end or year-round), don’t limit your story to linear slideshows that can’t show the whole picture. Instead, go for interactive software that takes your story where the audience wants it to go.
Ingage is presentation software that adds maximum interactivity to sales presentations. Clicking on images and objects expands into additional content to give viewers more information. Collaboration features let entire teams work on a single document no matter where each member is located. And because it’s cloud-based, both users and viewers just need a link to access the content. Finally, advanced analytics show you which presentation areas generated more interest and which ones were less compelling.
Don’t take our word for it. See for yourself how Ingage helps create interactive, engaging presentations every time. Sign up for a free demonstration today.