The holiday season is almost here, and planning those year-end sales before Christmas can be really overwhelming. There is a way to deal with it effectively. How? Your sales and marketing teams need to proactively analyze the business' historical sales data and plan for the holiday season well in advance.
2023 has been a year of ups and downs – geopolitical conflicts, skills and materials shortages, the energy crisis, and high inflation all set the tone for doing business in 2023, meaning that businesses had to adapt or face closure. With the IMF predicting that advanced economies, such as the UK and the US, will slow to 1.5 percent and below in 2024, the time to put a strategy in place to mitigate future risks is now.
Not sure where to begin?
To find out how to beat the holiday slowdown, here are our 9 top tips to be prepared for holiday sales success:
1. Pre-plan for holiday success
The secret to success in the holiday season is being prepared.
There are many techniques your team can implement to prepare for holiday success, including setting SMART goals.
S - Specific, M - Measurable, A - Achievable, R - Relevant, and T - Time-bound
This method is a great way of focusing your sales team on a specific challenge backed by a data-driven strategy. This data could include:
- Number of products sold in a specific time period
- Sales performance from last year compared to this year
- Competitor offers or promotional activities.
SMART goals might be one way to prepare for sales success in the holiday season, but it’s one of many. Sales teams should also:
- Conduct regular competitor analysis
- Invest in product sales promotion
- Stock checks to monitor levels and ensure that enough stock is available
- Research into advanced technologies, like AI, which could help your team to sell smarter
2. Collect customer behavior insights
There's a common phrase in business - the customer is KING, and keeping them engaged with your business, especially in the off-season, can be challenging. This is where your customers' insightful data comes in handy.
There are four types of data segments that your team utilizes to achieve holiday sales success:
- Personal data – including all contact and profile information
- Behavioral data – including top products, average spending, and buying pattern
- Engagement data – including preferred channels and methods for communication
- Attitudinal data – including feedback captured through surveys, reviews, or complaints.
There are several conventional & modern methods of understanding customers' behavioral insights like feedback surveys, online reviews, market research using third-party data, gap analysis, web analytical tools, and sales intelligence software.
If you want to understand your customer's experience via feedback, the important thing is to keep it simple. Keep surveys short and to the point, and ask open-ended questions to know the customers better and get the required insights.
The next step is to distill this data into easy-to-digest information so your sales teams can use it to strategize for the holiday season's sales success. If executed using your sales tech stack, your sales reps can easily access and understand the important data points created using a customer insights tool and identify sales trends. Highly prized insights can be produced using sales technology based on the following behavioral touchpoints:
- Historical purchase trends
- Customers' buying preferences
- Highly/least engaged customers
- Highly/least popular products
Now that your team is equipped with behavioral insights, they can confidently lead with the sales, revenue, or engagement targets.
3. Ensure holiday sales forecasts are accurate
Forecasting is crucial for businesses – and this is more vital than ever at high intensity periods such as launching a campaign around holidays. It can help sales teams with:
- Informed decisions on stock levels and pricing
- Accurate forecasting reduces the risk of overstocking
- Opportunities prediction based on historical data
- Demonstrate growth or areas for improvement
Accurate data is important when creating forecasts which are based on large volumes of historical data. But how does a business mitigate the risk of human error when forecasting? The answer could lie with the adoption of AI technology.
With AI-driven predictions, sales teams can:
- Eliminate sales subjectivity & rely on real data
- Transform from reactive to predictive
- Improve sales processes
- Reduce technology limitations
AI can analyze historic sales data from previous holiday periods or any defined timelines to accurately predict sales performance and help you place the right product at the right time.
4. Deliver a personalized experience
Whether it's a holiday season or not, evidence shows that different age groups have different buying habits. For example, Millennials prefer human-free online interactions, whereas Baby Boomers prefer the human touch. This means you need to personalize sales interactions per customer to support your sales team throughout the holiday season.
Developing a personalized selling approach will:
- Improve customer relationships
- Make customers feel valued
- Stand out of competition
- Increase chances of sales success
- Cross-sell with relevant products
By creating bespoke and relevant approaches (depending on demographics) and knowing when to offer guidance and when to go for the hard sell, your sales team can make every customer journey feel unique. A personalized selling approach unlocks many upsell and cross-sell opportunities with a likeliness to convert. Showing that you understand your customers’ needs means your team will be able to end the sales calendar on a high note.
5. Optimize your digital assets
A smooth customer journey from landing page to purchase is vital. It keeps those sales coming during the holiday season, making it crucial to invest in user experience. To do this, you need to benchmark your web data and create a list of crucial metrics to be counted as a success during the holiday season, such as:
- Average click-through rate
- Time spent per user
- Percentage of new vs returning visitors
- Exit rate on promotional or offer pages
You should also consider your site’s accessibility. Ensure that it can be easily accessed by users with disabilities as well. Where possible, consider implementing WCAG 2.1 standards – for example, by including subtitles and transcripts on any video content or making sure that all promotional content or web functionalities are operable through the keyboard as well.
By taking proactive steps, your team can ensure that every customer has a great experience, no matter their situation.
6. Understand the role of promotional offers
Promotional offers play a crucial role in driving sales and outperforming the competition during the holiday season. Implementing effective sales promotions is a proven strategy to engage customers, attract prospects, and ultimately boost revenue.
There are various types of promotions and sales techniques that businesses can utilize to achieve their goals.
One popular option is offering cashback incentives, where customers receive a percentage of the sale price back in cash. This not only encourages immediate purchases but also creates a positive association with the brand, as customers feel rewarded for their loyalty. Another effective approach is offering discounts for multiple purchases. By incentivizing customers to buy more, businesses can increase their average order value and generate higher sales numbers.
It is essential to measure the results of these promotions to determine their effectiveness and plan for future promotion periods. By analyzing sales data and customer feedback, businesses can identify which promotion resonates the most with their ideal persona and adjust their strategies accordingly.
This data-driven approach ensures that promotional efforts are optimized and aligned with customer preferences, resulting in more successful campaigns in the future.
7. Create a social-first strategy
It’s no secret that we buy online more than ever before, and a social landscape has been developed that keeps us all connected digitally. People engage with all forms of content across social channels, with video content winning by far.
In 2023, it was reported that just over half of all marketers – 51 percent – found that short-form videos gave their B2B sales a boost, something for sales teams to think about as they try to get their message out there over the holiday season.
Creating a social-first strategy is key to placing your products in front of the right people at the right channels. The following metrics can help to measure the success of any social-first strategy and highlight areas for improvement:
- Engagement (including likes, shares, and comments)
- Click-throughs to products or landing pages
- Time spent looking at a product or catalog
- Social media messaging
8. Conduct post-holiday assessment
So, you’ve completed all of the above – surely it must be time to relax? Not yet!
Throughout the sales frenzy, your team will have created reams of new data to be analyzed and assessed, including:
- Best-selling product
- Least-selling product
- Most valued customer segment
- Customers with the lowest engagement
- Number of canceled orders
- Failed deliveries
- Number of customer complaints
By analyzing these and related KPIs, your team will be able to create a holistic overview of holiday season sales and create fresh benchmarks to kick-start the cycle of setting and setting goals for next year!
9. Missed this year? Prepare for next season!
At the end of the holiday sales season, it’s out with the old and in with the new – ready for the new year. This could mean clearing excess stock and ordering new stock according to your demand forecasts for Q1 of 2024.
Good inventory management is key to setting your business up for success in the new year, and teams should look at existing data to show product levels, length of storage, and more to improve processes and systems. This could include conducting a supply chain audit to weed out unreliable suppliers or ensuring all product information is trackable to improve visibility on what is coming in and going out.
Preparation for the next holiday season could also include:
- Exploring new technology such as machine learning and AI-driven sales management tools
- Undertaking an audit of digital assets to smoothen user experience
- Data cleaning to create an accurate demand forecast
- Measuring Targets vs Achievements
- Set realistic benchmarks and KPIs
Want to know how sales-i can help in preparing your team for any season?
We help salespeople understand their customers using our customer insights reports and easy-to-understand dashboards. We help them identify new sales opportunities and an upward or downward sales trend. We transform sales reps from being reactive to proactive. Ready to see sales-i in action?