Here’s how to keep your sales staff focused amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season:
Find that motivator. Poll your staff as to what incentives work. Money or prizes? Recognition or special privileges?
Quid pro quo. Your sales force follows your lead, so stay focused. Communicate frequently, but be cautious not to micromanage.
Encourage input. Poll your sales leaders for creative ideas and suggestions. Create a “team” atmosphere and welcome their contributions and initiatives.
Cherry-pick. Allow your salespeople to offer your best customers special offers or deals, which will fuel loyalty and foster even better relationships.
Entrepreneur Magazine contributor Suzanne Paling offers tips for writing a compensation plan, which will help drive your sales force to even greater successes in the New Year. Her main points include:
- Reward Top Producers
- Make Room for Sales Contests
- Don’t Operate in a Silo (get a knowledgeable but unbiased second opinion)
Read the article: How to set commissions that motivate your team
It’s the holiday season, and nine times out of 10 you’re going to be running some kind of holiday ad. So, how do you stand out as the “Rudolph” of the pack, brightly guiding your business to great holiday sales?
Use a holiday motif…sparingly. There are many types of holiday ads you can create…elegant, fun, professional or whimsical (see Creative Outlet’s holiday selection). But your employees in Santa hats? Just say no.
Come up with a jolly good headline. Remember, your reader is being inundated with holiday ads. “Merry Christmas from XYZ business” isn’t going to stop them in their tracks. But “Buy one for her, get one for yourself!” just might.
5,4,3,2,1…A countdown is especially good for a series of ads. It creates a sense of urgency and reminds your customers that they have a limited time to take advantage of what your business has to offer.
Track your sales. Say: “Mention this newspaper ad and get an extra 10% off any product or service!” Train: Instruct your employees to ask where they heard of your business or what prompted them to come in. Follow-up: Consider asking those who came in as a result of the ad to fill out a short survey that you can use to better serve your customers in the future.
The bottom line? You know you want a holiday ad. But if you’re going to do it, do it right, and make it an effective part of your yearly marketing plan, not just an afterthought in a busy holiday season.
Holiday cards for businesses are very often a last-minute, “shoot-we-forgot-to-order-holiday-cards” fiasco that often results in you sending out a cheaply made card with some bad artwork and your name stamped on the inside. Wow. This year, do better.
Order early. Like, before now. If you haven’t ordered them yet, consider enlisting the assistance of a graphic designer to create a custom card your customers won’t soon forget. Which leads to…
Be unique. Be the card that gets passed around the office instead of passed over. Think of a clever way to position what you have to say. Do you want to thank them for their business or their continued loyalty? Are you just wishing them happy holidays? Again, brainstorm with a creative mind and come up with something fabulous.
Keep doing business. Don’t forget your logo. Don’t forget your name. Don’t forget your phone number. Consider using company colors if it will tie in to your design, or take the company “motto” one step further and incorporate it into your holiday message.
Take the time to hand-sign. Bonus points for writing a personal note and self-addressing the envelope.
Stick out from the crowd. Mail inboxes are a lot less full well before or well after the holidays. So who says you have to send out a company Christmas card? What about a Thanksgiving “we’re thankful for your business” card or a “Here’s to another great year of business”?
Think ahead, think outside the box and think above and beyond, and this year’s business holiday card may just be the crowning jewel of your marketing efforts.
No matter how long you’ve been in sales, you’ve heard plenty of objections when it comes time for the rubber to meet the road. Here’s how to circumvent the criticism and close that sale:
- Establish a rapport. This is important not only to make a customer comfortable with you, but for you to learn more about them and how what your selling will best fit into their lifestyle. Listen to who they are, what they do and what they think they need, then fill in the gaps by tailoring your product’s usability to their situation.
- Be genuinely excited about your product. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are truly passionate about what you sell and its benefit to your customers, make sure you convey that to them. Don’t be apologetic about selling and don’t be shy when boasting its features and benefits.
- Acknowledge their objections. There’s nothing worse for a customer than having what they believe to be a viable concern fall on deaf ears. Be empathetic to their objection, then emphatic on how much this purchase will benefit them. Some customers need reassurance; others play devil’s advocate to ensure that they are making a worthy purchase.
Finally, realize that objections may in fact mean that the customer is interested. After putting their mind at ease, go for the close. But in the immortal words of Kenny Rogers, “Know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em.” Sometimes a sale is imminent, other times, it’s best to back off and try again at a later time.
Here is some advice from blogger-designer-marketing consultant Ron Reason on how to cook up your newspaper’s next food section:
Ingredients for a Five-Star Food Section
In a recent post, we presented the very positive showing that newspaper websites had in a Newspaper Association of America 2009 study comparing them to other online sources of local news and information.
The news gets even better. Here are some statistics you’ll be sure to want to present to your clients who may want to know what advertising with your online newspaper will do for them:
Four-in-ten adults (40%) agreed that their opinion of the advertising they see online is
influenced by the type of website upon which the ad appears. Younger adults (18 – 34) are more likely than those 55 and older to agree that the type of website matters for advertising (46% vs. 31%).
Age makes a difference: nearly half (48%) of those who say the type of website is an influence is composed of adults ages 18 – 34, contrasted with just over one-third (36%) of the same age group who say the type of Web site is not an influence.
Among those who agree that their opinion of advertising is influenced by the type of website, local newspaper sites are rank first in terms of the trustworthiness of the advertising. More than one-third (36%) selected local newspaper Web sites for trustworthy advertising compared to less than one-fourth (23%) for local television Web sites and less than one-in-eight (12%) for online portals.
Overall, advertising on local newspaper websites is considered more trustworthy because the ads are more current, with credibility and local relevance also important factors. All demographic groups rated “more likely to be current” as the top reason, nearly or exceeding eight-in-ten for each group.
All good information for you to close that sale.
Here are some encouraging statistics from the Newspaper Association of America from a 2009 study measuring consumer attitudes and behaviors regarding local newspaper websites and content compared with other online sources of local news and information:
Regarding rating respondents’ main source preference for local information, newspaper websites ranked highest (57%), ahead of online portals and local television websites.
Local newspaper websites recorded high incidence levels of upper-income households (63%), for the college educated (60%) and for those age 35 or older (58%).
Newspaper sites ranked first as a source for local information (29%), local sports (27%) local entertainment (26%) and local classifieds (39%), ahead of both local television Web sites and online portals.
Regarding reliability, local newspaper websites led television by twelve percentage points (34% vs. 22%) for local information, by six points for local sports (30% vs. 24%), by 10 points for local entertainment (30% vs. 20%) and by 29 points for local classifieds (42% vs. 13%).
Credibility is another key distinction for local newspaper websites. Newspaper websites beat out local television websites, from local news (35% vs. 32%), local information (34% vs. 23%), local sports (30% vs. 24%), local entertainment (30% vs. 19%) and local classifieds (43% vs. 13%).
In Part II: Online newspaper websites ROCK in ad credibility
Brenna Ehrlich, news editor and blogger for Mashable.com, offers a light slap-on-the-wrist to those of us who may fall victim to using what she calls “subtle punctuation pockmarks”. See if you’re guilty:
Watch these 3 annoying online punctuation lapses.
Here are some compelling facts to share with your advertisers from the Newspaper Association of America:
- 73% of adults read a newspaper or visit a newspaper website in an average week.
- Customers for many products and services are also the heaviest newspaper readers.
- Newspaper sections provide advertisers with unique targeting opportunities.
- The newspaper is the most used advertising source for coupons.
- The newspaper is read by the majority of consumers planning their next vehicle purchase.
- Newspaper website users are prime prospects for advertisers.
According to research by the Readership Institute at Northwestern University, advertising is one of the top five drivers of newspaper readership. That’s because consumers seek out the newspaper to make product buying decisions. According to MORI Research:
- 41% of consumers say newspapers are where they go to check out advertisements–twice that of any other medium.
- 46% percent say newspapers are their preferred medium to receive ad information; TV comes in fourth at 10%.
- 41% see newspaper ads as valuable in planning shopping; the Internet (25%) and direct mail (15%) rank second and third, respectively.
- When asked if they try to avoid certain types of advertising, only 4% said newspapers, compared to 23% for TV and 20% for the ads in received in the mail.
Print advertising, specifically newspapers, has taken quite a reputation hit in the past few years. Communicate with your customers to dispel the myths and get them back on the same page.