Almost every business has a peak selling season—even if you aren’t a conventional business or your selling volumes don’t correspond with changing seasons. There are times when your customers will be more eager to buy your products and services, and if you want to take advantage of those influxes, you’ll need to have your sales staff prepared for them.
Types of Seasons
What do we mean by “selling season”? There are a number of different possibilities here:
True seasonal purchases. First, there are “truly” seasonal purchases; for example, if you sell swimming pools, you probably see a spike in sales in the spring, when homeowners are looking to make the installation before summer comes around.
Seasonal spending habits. You could also see a peak in consumer spending due to natural patterns of consumer behavior. For example, most retail establishments see a huge rise in consumer spending in November and December because of the holiday shopping season, followed by a slump in January.
Sales and intentional peaks. Your business may also artificially create its own peak selling seasons by offering once-a-year sales, or specific periods of promotion that bring in a burst of new prospective customers for a short period of time.
Oddities and outliers. Of course, there are also strange patterns of sales fluctuations that your business might be privy to. For example, you may see a huge increase in spending in April for no discernable reason at all.
Getting Ready for Peak Season
Regardless of what type of sales season you’re facing, there are a handful of important strategies you can use to make sure your sales staff is equipped and prepared for the rise in activity.
Hire additional staff if necessary. First, take an honest inventory of your current sales staff. Are they going to be able to handle the extra workload associated with your spike in queries or sales? This is a tough question to answer, even with historical data, because outliers can make your data irrelevant and give you an unexpectedly slow or fast season. You’ll have to do some careful balancing here; yes, your staff may be able to scrape by with your projected workload, but will they be able to perform to the best of their abilities that way? You don’t have to hire a full-timer here; even a temporary staff member can reduce the burden for the group.
Train everyone on new products and services. If you have any new products or services, set aside some time to get your staff up to speed. Hold a team seminar or meeting where your staff members can try out your new goods for themselves, and answer any questions they might have. A successful sales strategy starts with an intimately informed sales staff. Even if you aren’t offering any new products or services, it’s a good idea to get the team together for a recap of your current offerings.
Review proper procedures for consistency. It’s also important to make sure everyone on your sales team is following the same procedures, working with the same software, drawing from the same pricing guides, executing the same onboarding steps, and adhering to the same formatting standards. This will help you prevent deviations that could cost you eventual sales (or at least frustrate your attempts to analyze your overall sales performance).
Prepare and test new sales strategies. A peak sales season is a perfect time to test out a new sales strategy; because you’ll have more people working with a bigger number of prospective customers, you’ll have more wiggle room for experimentation. Not only will you have a wider sample size to work with in your experiments, but you’ll also be less vulnerable to a potential loss. If a strategy doesn’t work on a select group, you’ll have plenty more opportunities to recover and still hit your goals. Take the time before sales season to brainstorm and come up with these new strategies.
Set group and individual goals. Goals are the best possible framework you could have for increasing productivity and measuring success. You’ll want to set targets for your sales team if you want them to do their best, and you should do so in both a group and individual context. Your group goals will bring your team together, collaborating better and for the same common purpose, while your individual goals will cater to specific strengths and weaknesses of the individual members of your team. All your goals should follow SMART goal criteria to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Establish a framework for collaboration. You need your sales team to work together if you want to see the best possible results, so establish a framework for collaboration early on. Does your sales team have an effective, fast means of communicating with each other? Do you have a system for your staff members to forward leads to one another if they feel overwhelmed? Do they feel comfortable exchanging information with each other and resolving their own disputes? Keep them working together efficiently.
Create or review overflow and backup plans. Do you know what to do if you end up getting more inquiries than your staff can feasibly handle? Or if you end up selling more products than you have in stock? Or if your service team gets overbooked? You need to be prepared for these possible outcomes, even if they aren’t especially likely with the plans you already have in place. For example, it’s a good idea to identify at least one outside source of products or services to supplement your own supply in a pinch, or have a backup salesperson on call to step into a situation like this.
These strategies can help you ensure you have a productive, smooth, and revenue-rich peak sales season, especially if you use them in conjunction with one another and begin your prep work well in advance of the actual season. However, you’ll still need the best tools if you want to see the highest close rates and productivity of your staff, and CPQ software is one of the greatest assets you can have here.
If you’re interested in iQuoteXpress’s CPQ software solution, contact us for a free demo today!