Direct Sales Success – Holiday Season Begins NOW

It’s not often I write about booking, selling and recruiting, as there are plenty of Direct Sales trainers that speak on the core elements of our business. However, as a consultant in the trenches, I must chime in about taking advantage of the biggest selling season of our year.

And it begins NOW.

One of my mentors told me that the biggest mistake we make in sales is selling “in the month for the month”. In essence, we’re skating on thin ice in our business because we’re focused on the “now” rather than planning ahead.

Direct sales coach (and also a good friend), Julie Anne Jones, made a post on her blog about getting back to business once the kids are in school. It touched a nerve with me. If you’re just now “getting started”, you’ll have to play a lot of catch up just to get your business on solid ground in time for the holidays.

If that’s the boat you’re in, here are a few tips to get you moving forward faster:

1. Get clear on your objectives. Think about what you want your holiday earnings to look like now. And as Julie said in her previous post, make a plan. So often, we get cloudy on the execution because we weren’t clear on our goals and didn’t make a suitable plan. Plan for the vacation, the new TV, the gifts for the kids – and know how many parties you need between now and then to make that happen.

2. Know your benchmarks. What’s your average show sales? What’s the average ticket per customer? How many bookings do you average per show? If you don’t know those numbers, you can’t begin to plan. Benchmark your last 6 months versus the same time period last year. For some, their averages are slipping due to local economic issues (or other issues), but for others, because competition is waning, their numbers are on the rise.

3. Commit to “a little more” than before. Getting more than you’ve had before means being willing to do things differently. Are you reaching out to new markets, spending more time creating an online marketing strategy, or making more cold calls? What are you doing above and beyond the norm to drum up new, additional business to front load your calendar?

4. Sell into next quarter. I know several consultants that are booked 90 days (or more) in advance. Yes, it’s totally possible. For my business, I rarely have a client that can book in the next two weeks because of their own scheduling conflicts. I don’t fight it. I book 4-5 weeks out and coach my hostesses, using incentives to help them keep their originally scheduled date.

If you’ve already got a full calendar, good for you. Here are some tips to make November and December your best months ever:

1. Plan a special promotion at Thanksgiving. Each year, when other people are expecting/sending Christmas cards, I’ve already touched my most valued (top 20%) hosts and customers with a Thanksgiving card. Make a memorable connection, include a special offer, and follow up with a quick phone call to see if they’re able to order or book to add to your holiday sales. It’s a unique and different way to provide value and generate business.

2. Start approaching businesses and school offices now. Many times they’re already planning their holiday gift purchases, and if you wait until November, they’ve already made up their minds. Be proactive in contacting commercial customers – sometimes they have a huge lead time for approvals on orders and holiday gifts.

3. Remember to give plenty of advanced notice on all your parties. Consider sending invitations a week earlier than normal, and follow up with a phone call. It’s a little extra work, but the payoff is tremendous.

4. Start your VIP/customer appreciation programs now – when spending is high. This encourages repeat business throughout the year – even after the holidays. They’ll already have a few stamps on their VIP cards, so they’ll be eager to get them filled!

Don’t feel compelled to do all of these strategies, just pick a few and see the improvement from last year. The important thing is to be clear, focused and take new action toward attaining your goals. I’ve had consultants on my team sell thousands more in fall just using a handful of these tips.