SMEs sales survival guide to Christmas
Keep your pipelines full – make lead generation a priority
Please don’t mention the ‘C word’ I hear you cry!
I know, it’s too early to think about Christmas, the hype seems to start earlier and earlier each year. Supermarket retailers, not to mention any names, had their Christmas chocs on the shelves in September.
Is this a sign of madness or do they have the right idea? Research Runner suggests that SMEs (Small, Medium Enterprises) could learn something from these early bird retailers? After all, it is said that prevention is better than cure.
The Christmas period provides a welcome boost to sales for high street and online retailers. With many cashing in on the festive period to increase end of year sales figures. With large marketing budgets put aside for this time of year, large companies cash in on the holiday season. However, for SMEs, Christmas can mean a real slump in profits and a stressful time for business owners.
Fear not! Research runner can provide some useful tips on how to avoid the Christmas curse.
Main reason for a decline in profits?
As well as the online and high street retailers, the leisure, travel/tourism and hospitality sectors take full advantage of the festive period and use it as an opportunity to cash in on party goers and families wishing to spend time together.
Many SMEs experience a slump in sales during this time and can be a stressful period for owners. Firstly, staff annual leave means that there are fewer employees working on generating sales leads in the office. This often means that business owners are having to work longer hours to cover holiday leave, so as to avoid paying extra for agency staff or overtime, thus contributing to stress as well as expense.
Secondly, some businesses may decide to close their offices, great for the employees who are getting paid, not so good for SMEs. This also has a knock on effect, as other businesses close, it becomes increasing difficult to conduct transactions, deliveries of stock, postal delays and bank transfers/payments may take longer.
Thirdly, the Christmas period is an expensive time for all, many don’t want to spend money on unnecessary products or services that can wait until the new year.
All in the preparation
From years of experience and forecasting, retailers are one step ahead when it comes to making sure their pre-tax profits don’t take a tumble during the festive period, which is why they start early.
Boost your lead generation
Just because the office is closed, doesn’t mean your company needs to lose money.
There is a perception that there is not much business in December. However, Julian Haste, MD of Research Runner believes this is a great time for lead generation.
Avoid the roller coaster ride! Julian suggests that you start as early as the summer. It is important to close business in December that you first opened in the summer, so use the festive months to open business for the following year. Through experience Julian believes that if you have built up enough leads throughout the year, then there is no reason why your December sales should suffer.
If you work in sales, you will often hear phrases such as “We will wait until after Christmas”, “We don’t have the money right now”, “We don’t need this right now.” Never more is this heard more so than during Christmas.
This could be because many employees don’t want to have to deal with signing contracts and doing paperwork during this time especially with members of staff taking annual leave. Smaller companies don’t have the privilege of a large budget and Christmas can be an expensive time of year, with Xmas parties and staff bonuses.
Historically, January usually proves a slow month for new business outside of the retail industry. Mainly because consumers are tightening their belts after the sales and the long pay month.
This is the most stressful time for most small business owners. Trying to balance staff absence, corporate parties, bonuses and family expenses, this period is not always a happy one for some.
Research suggests that some 472,000 small business owners will be working over Christmas. Trying to balance staff holiday entitlement often means a skeleton workforce. Resulting in some 17% of owners covering the absence of their own staff in order to reduce costs.
So as to avoid these issues, it is wise to install an HR system that can help control and supervise holiday entitlement. Asking staff as early as in the Summer what their plans for Christmas are and enforcing them to book early, means that you can arrange coverage beforehand.
These aren’t just for retailers, try offering new clients an incentive, a festive discount or entry into a prize draw. Give them a little extra, access to free subscriptions, some stationary or gift pack. It may be a simple as sending out a Christmas card.
At Research Runner we want you to avoid the post-festive slump in sales. We provide a strategic lead generation service, working seamlessly to generate targeted leads for your business, taking the stress out of the festive period allowing you to enjoy time with friends and family.
Why wait? Lets get your business ready for the festive season and the months that follow.
Contact Research Runner now, for a free, no obligation quote on how we can assist in keep you pipelines full. Visit us at www.research-runner.com.