2010 is slipping away, and the majority of Holiday shoppers are still stuck in a recession funk – they simply plan to spend less, seek out sale items, use coupons, and shop multiple vendors for the best deal on a specific product. Knowing and addressing these behaviors will help refine your marketing and sales messaging to maximize revenue during these critical few remaining shopping weeks.

Be Persistent and Leverage Your Brand

It’s a brutally competitive marketplace out there – the lowest price and free shipping rule. However, your prospects and customers still care as much about your brand as they do your price.  You just have to bang them over the head more than usual to break through the competitive noise.  Your Holiday sales and marketing plan should include regular, and varied communication to get your point across.  If you haven’t started, it’s not too late. The web offers multiple, low-cost, opt-in methods for hammering home your message, including eNewsletters, automated email systems, online press release services, and of course, a myriad of social media outlets (FaceBook, Twitter et al.).  None of which will tax your staff if done correctly. Of course, if your business model allows, a phone call can be just as effective.  Your messaging should be simple, but consistent.  Start each message by reinforcing your brand identity:  Unique, Trendy, Innovative, Service-Minded, Rewarding, Fun, Youthful, Productive, Local…you get the picture.  It’s not just the daily discount that motivates them to buy. It’s also how they associate themselves with your brand and the long-term value of  the supplier / customer relationship.  If they’re choosing between like products, a great brand always wins. And don’t forget, if they already bought something from you, send them a thank you note or email and ask for a referral or positive review on your Web site. Nothing sells better than a happy customer!

Keep Your Sales Team Motivated

Your Holiday marketing campaign is in full swing (hopefully), your leads are piling up, your shelves are stocked, and your extra phone lines have been ready for weeks.  Now, it’s up to your expertly trained sales team to bring home the bacon.  But wait…before you start pumping up your sales forecast, don’t forget your sales reps are often just as stressed as your customers, and may need a little extra motivation to make the final push.  Make sure they understand how important the Holiday sales numbers are to the overall health of your company.  Let them know what their individual and company sales goals are, and celebrate achievement every day.  Also, make your office or store a fun place to be.  Let them decorate a little, hold sales contests, finalize your company Holiday party plans so they know there will be an opportunity to blow of steam, and be rewarded for their hard work. If you require they work extended hours, offer to bring in lunch or stock the office with extra food and drinks.  There’s nothing better than a few Red Bulls and Snickers bars to keep your sales team cranking.  You will be surprised how a little bit goes a long way, and your customers will reward the extra effort.

Sell With A Smile

It’s a proven fact: people still enjoy buying from people.  If you own a retail business, make sure your salespeople are interacting correctly with every customer that calls or walks in the door.  Remember, most people aren’t window-shopping right now.  They have a specific list of gifts they need, and limited time to find them.  I always appreciate it when someone greets me in a store or answers the phone and simply asks, “What can I help you find or purchase today?” It’s a fair, open-ended question that begs an answer and prompts interaction.  If they simply ask, “Do you need any help?”  I usually reply, “No Thanks, I am just looking,” and eventually go somewhere else.  I know it sounds basic, but understand your customers just want to feel appreciated, and have their problems solved quickly. Finally, make sure your sales people are informed of special offers, new products, and time-sensitive promotions.  There is no faster way to lose a customer than if they call or visit your store in response to an ad campaign and they get dead air or blank stares from your sales reps.