The Holiday Season is Done. Now What?

The holidays are over and it’s time to review your sales data and look over how your business did this season. Reviewing how the season went will reveal how you can improve your performance next year. Keeping track year to year will help improve performance and increase your gains. Here is a process to make the most of the data you have collected.

Review your sales data

Look over your profit and loss statement for your holiday sales. The numbers will show you which products performed best, how your customers spent their money and how sales compared to other times of the year. There is a lot of data to comb through but here are some of the things you might want to pay attention to.

  • Holiday season sales
  • Peak days
  • Best-selling items
  • Worst-selling items
  • Average transaction amount
  • Most common billing and shipping ZIP codes
  • If you offered holiday deals, the percentage of transactions that used them

These numbers will help show you which items and promotions did the best. It also will allow you to compare the season to the rest of the year.

Calculate seasonal costs

You are looking for the difference between the normal operating costs and the higher seasonal costs. Include any additional marketing you paid for. Remember to include to add in any part-time help you hired, any additional shipping supplies you had to purchase, and any extra payment processing costs. If you had extra holiday-seasonal advertising, be sure to include it as well.

Review customer feedback

Look at reviews and comments left on social media and review sites. See where you excelled and where you can improve. Sort out any unresolved issues that can damage your reputation. Also examine where you did well, where you can improve, and what the most common questions were.

Evaluate your time

How did you spend your time? How much was on profit-boosting activities? Were there time-consuming activities you could outsource? Did you have enough time to conduct all the normal activities of your business as well as the added time needed for the season? Did you hire enough help to keep up with everything? The solution might be as simple as streamlining your processes or it may be that you need to hire more help during the holiday peaks.

Evaluate the season

What went well? What can be improved? Did you make a profit? Why or why not? How can you make more sales and better margins? Did you have enough help? Look at the big picture.

If you made a profit during the season and had great reviews from your customers, and you had time to manage your business during the rush, congratulations! You won the small business holiday trifecta.

If you were overworked, you can start planning to get more help for next year. If your reviews weren’t so good, you can plan for delivering better customer service.

What if your time management, sales numbers, and customer service were good but you still didn’t make as much of a profit as you’d hoped? Then it’s time to review pricing and costs to see where you can make adjustments.

The good news about making adjustments is that you have plenty of time to refine them before Black Friday next year. Consider the other holidays an early test run for improvements to your business.

Post Holiday Sales Checklist

Advertisements

Black Friday is Here!

The always stressful, most of the time entertaining, dread-inducing Black Friday is here. I will be in the trenches, helping out clients, getting a read on the selling situation and modifying battle plans. Your employees are the most important part of this arrangement so make sure they are trained and ready for Black Friday. Brush up on customer service. Make sure they have the flexibility to deal with situations as they arise. Make sure they have the support and tools they need. Here is a quick infographic to help with employee engagement on this big day!

5 Engagement Tips for Black Friday

Sales Tools

There are tons of sales tools out there (too many in fact) and every single one of them “Revolutionized” sales. It’s hard to cut through the clutter and choose the right system for your needs. Here is a list of my top 5 sales tools and why you need them.

CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the most important tool for managing your sales pipeline. Keeping customers needs and contact information at your fingertips, a good CRM is portable across platforms and easy to use. I have used many CRM’s and they all have their pros and cons. Of course, Salesforce is the big one out there but the price might be a barrier for some. Insightly and Zoho are a couple of free CRM’s but they don’t always have the functionality you need without paying. Even a bad free system is better than no system. You can always port your information to another system if you need to but try and avoid that as it takes time.

LinkedIn

The worlds most popular social media platform dedicated to business is a must in the current sales environment. It doesn’t matter what type of sales you do from big medical deals to retail, LinkedIn is useful to everyone. If you are in B2B sales make sure to check out LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Use LinkedIn to make connections with suppliers or with potential clients or just to build better relationships whith those you already know. It really is a versatile platform and will be useful if you take the time to cultivate it.

Cloud Storage

From sharing information across your organization to giving information to customers you need a platform to make the flow of information easier. Getting a cloud-based service keeps your business agile and the information flowing. I use Dropbox but Google Drive has come a long way to being a useful cloud storage service. If I suspect I might need to share a bit of information it automatically goes on the cloud storage to make it easier.

Video Camera

Face to face selling is the ideal but not always possible. Invest in a decent camera for either video or conferencing. Selling in today’s market means you need video of one type or another. Use video to showcase a product or service, use it as an explainer or use video chat to sell. You can use your cellphone if the resolution and sound quality are high enough. I use a GoPro for most of my videos but a few are shot on my phone. For video conferencing the camera on a laptop is usually sufficient but don’t rely on your phone for such conferencing, it would be better to buy a dedicated webcam for your desktop if that is your only option.

Scheduler

Time is money and in sales, the golden hours are doubly important.  Use a scheduler to keep on track and to schedule tasks around your golden selling times. In retail those are your busiest hours, don’t let small tasks or meeting interfere with making a sale. There are schedulers that can coordinate teams and ones that can automate setting up meetings with clients. Make sure whatever you use it is integrated with whatever calendar you use on a day to day basis to avoid double scheduling or worse, missing a meeting.

Sales Tools

Slides in a Pitch Deck

A Sales Pitch deck is pretty standard for certain types of selling. Even those who don’t use an actual pitch deck would benefit from considering these slides. This deck is focused on gaining investors in your business. I modified it from one I found on a site I frequent, put my spin on it and popped it up here for you. Stay tuned this week as I explore setting up your sales program. Do you use a pitch deck like this?

10