Q4 isn’t just busy for retailers. It should be just as busy for sales people. One of the biggest misconceptions among sales reps is that not much happens in late November and December. Starting right now, I say lose that lame-assed thinking. Just because your customers may not need to see you, it doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of work to do. Don’t be scared by that notion. Since most reps don’t think beyond the next order, just a few simple steps can put you way ahead. So, here you go:
5 Ways to Destroy Your Competition With Holiday Cheer
1. Smoke What You’re Selling. If you are anywhere near the greeting card industry, you better plan on sending holiday cards to (at least) your top 100 customers. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. Run labels off your customer database and dig out some old samples from the basement (just a make sure they don’t look like old samples). Schedule time to write out them out. Don’t whine about how there are “too many” or you’re “too busy”. Plan on hand writing and personalizing each one. Start now and write 10 or so a night and by early December, you're done!
2. Give Fat Stacks. What do you get for the best buyers as a holiday gift? I say you give nothing. In lieu of gifts for your customers, make a generous donation to a charity. Include a note in your holiday cards saying you’ve made a donation in honor of your customers and thank them for their business over the past year. Don’t cheap out, either. If you’d spend $50 per gift basket for 10 accounts, give $500.
3. Give Your Time. For your top 5 customers, offer to work a shift, including weekends, for free during the holidays. Be willing to do anything from keeping the store merchandised to staffing a gift-wrap table. Don’t think for a minute that won’t make a huge impression, even if they don’t take you up on your offer. Plan on buying lunch for everyone during your shift too.
4. Be Available. Plan on working or at least being available to help your accounts with last minute orders through 6pm on December 19th. All indications are that holiday reorders will be smaller but more frequent. If you can be a hero by getting a last minute order submitted and shipped, why wouldn’t you? Just be sure you’ve got current stock status reports and manufacturer shipping deadlines to insure your rockstar reputation.
5. Keep it in the Family. Do your holiday shopping with your customers. Don’t expect a discount either. Imagine the surprise on the buyer’s face when you walk in and they look confused. “Did we have an appointment?” they ask. You say, “Nope. I’m just here shopping.” Dang, you’re good.
None of this is hard. All of it will go a long way to countering the notion that reps don’t care about customers and are only in it for the money. A little attention, a little time, and a little extra effort is all it takes. Don’t get derailed if your competition (or co-workers) cut out early, cut corners, or just disappear during the holiday season. Instead, watch them get jealous when your customers rave about you, when you win the sales awards and when you take a bigger commission (and a bigger bonus) check to the bank.