Business 16 December 2019
The holidays can be an extremely lucrative time of the year, particularly if you are in retail. Some analysts estimate that retail stores make 20 percent or more of their annual revenue during the holiday season. But what if you run a service-based business? How can you increase your revenue and avoid making mistakes that can actually kill your sales or, worse, create resentment from your existing clients?
As the founder of a global sales and sales training agency, supporting serviced-based business owners, I find that the holiday season tends to be the slowest time of year. Teams are usually slowing down while they prepare to spend the holidays with family and friends. Yet, as they say, "the show must go on."
Here are the top three mistakes I see service-based business owners make during the holiday season:
1. Provide steep discounts on existing programs or offers.
It's easy to get caught up in the sales and shopping frenzy, which can make you think it's a great idea to offer steep discounts on your existing programs or offers. The problem with that is it could easily offend your existing clients who enrolled earlier in the year and invested at a higher price point. It will also teach your community to not enroll in programs earlier and to wait for the holiday specials, which could have a serious impact to your cash flow throughout the year.
If you'd like to take advantage of the holiday sales, create an end of the year sales strategy that can reward your most loyal clients and create introductory offers for new prospects. I encourage you to think about this far enough in advance so that you can implement an effective strategy without feeling as if your only option is to discount your existing programs or services. It is more cost-effective to retain an existing client versus getting new clients. The last thing you want to do is cause your loyal buyers to feel resentment towards you and working with your company.
For example, I have a client who leverages the fourth quarter to offer a special service that she only offers at the end of the year. In comparison to her other services, it's fairly low priced, and because her existing clients know how amazing it is, they are anxiously waiting to take advantage of it every year. It's also a great way for new clients to work with her, and many of them later invest in a higher-priced program in the New Year.
2. Focusing only on low-priced offers.
I wish I could say that I've never made this mistake myself, but—not so much. One year, I had my team create low priced offers for holiday specials. I didn't stop to think that plan all the way through because my clients usually don't invest in lower-priced services. Needless to say, we spent a great deal of resources to create offers that did not sell. Facepalm!
Don't get me wrong; lower-priced offers may be a great revenue strategy for the right business. However, I've seen business owners focus only on lower priced offers during the holidays instead of offering what their audiences really want. Just because it's the end of the year and you can find great deals in the retail space doesn't mean that clients only desire those offers. Many people make some of their largest purchases during the holiday season because they've saved throughout the year to be able to spend, and they're also often looking for a last-minute tax write off.
Regardless, no matter what time of year it is, you want to make sure you are offering what your audience is excited to purchase.
To make sure you don't fall into the hyper-discount trap, keep your ear to the ground, so you know what your audience desires. How many times throughout the year do you pick up the phone to chat with current or former clients about ways that you can better serve them? You may even survey prospective clients to get their input on their most pressing issues. And definitely don't forget to pay close attention to what prospects are saying during sales conversations. These conversations are gold for structuring ideal offers. Calls like these give you valuable insight into what's exciting for your ideal clients. It's the closest you can come to legally printing your own money.
3. Throwing in the towel before the New Year.
This is probably the most common mistake I see for service-based businesses. It's never too late to make sales for your business. One of the reasons many service-based business owners fall into this trap is that they are tired, and they do not have enough support in their businesses.
The end of the year is a great time to leverage your team and automation to prevent having a lack of sales during the holidays. If you don't already have a sales team, the New Year is a good time to look at ways that you can leverage a sales team to increase your revenue and to free up your time.
On top of that, automation is an amazing tool to leverage for sales. Do you have offers that do not require a sales conversation? Maybe these are the products that you offer early on in the client journey (aka sales funnel). As you're developing your sales strategy for next year, be sure to look at the different ways you can leverage automation to impact your bottom line.
Many of my clients love to take additional time off during the holidays to travel or spend time with their families. I had one client who visited Rome, Colorado, Dallas, & Jamaica between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. During that six-week period away, her company generated over $80,000 in additional revenue. That's the power of having a sales team in place. While you are enjoying some much-needed downtime, the business is still moving full steam ahead.
It takes time to get the right team and systems in place, so you definitely want to make sure you have time to get things in place prior to the holidays.
Remember, the holidays are a great time of year for business. You have a number of options to generate massive revenue and connect with clients during the holiday season. With a little planning and proper preparation, your business can continue to thrive during the holidays.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist