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5 Ways to Prepare Your B2B Business for the Holiday Season

November 3, 2016 By Stacey Woods

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The holiday season has become associated with record sales for B2C businesses, while the B2B market usually experiences a slightly different effect — because stores and retailers need to gear up to prepare for the holiday shopping frenzy, B2B sales are most intense leading up to the holiday season. There are some key ways to leverage this special time of year to your advantage, while closing the year with a higher profit margin that might get rid of the Grinch for good.

Here are five tips to prepare your B2B business for the holiday season:

1. Create a strategy

Make a plan on how you want to approach each holiday —Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s  — and create a campaign that addresses your targets for each holiday. Consider what your objectives are for the holiday season — are you looking for more qualified leads? Do you want to increase seasonal product sales? Plan your promotions accordingly, as they will be an integral part of the campaign. Great deals will motivate more holiday business.  

Sit down with your team and go over each account and your goals for them. Also discuss each holiday in depth to plan out goals, potential challenges, and who is taking the lead on which account and which holiday. Planning takes some time, but with a game plan, you’ll save time, energy and resources when your clients’ shoppers fill the stores.

2. Jump start your inventory

Your power this holiday season is in your inventory. You can take a major hit if you can’t deliver retailers with their holiday inventory. Look at your sales stats from previous years to determine which products do better than others around this time. Prepare to track this year’s purchases to set a strategy in place for the next year. You should also encourage sales reps to reach out to customers now and see if they plan on placing special orders as to avoid back orders and late shipments.

Furthermore, getting shipments out early is extremely important. As a B2B sales professional, you set the stage for a successful holiday season — if your products don’t get shipped to stores smoothly or on time, there will be troubles down the line when consumers pour into the stores. To prevent this, start early and communicate with your accounts. Identify your VIP accounts and talk to them first — what do they need? Do they foresee any challenges this year? What products are they most excited about?    

3. Create special e-catalogs

Create holiday e-catalogs based on seasonal bestsellers and optimize your storefront app for the holidays; set up a quick navigation path on your homepage to save time and help direct sales reps to the seasonal products they’re looking for — based on purchase history. This will help customers review products they want in their stock for the upcoming year, while encouraging them to place orders easily.  

Be sure to send your accounts email notifications now to check out your e-catalog to get their orders in ASAP. Creating incentives to order by November 15th, for example, helps you and your clients, by ensuring their stock will arrive with plenty of time to get it on the shelves in time for Black Friday, with a back stock of items ready for the Christmas shopping frenzy. Read on to learn about personalizing your message to help your clients choose what’s best for them, and help them get their stock as early as possible.

4. Personalize your messages

The holidays are every business’ chance to target prospects with more marketing messages and emails than usual — and they’re taking notice. Your email will most likely get lost in the masses of emails if it doesn’t offer its prospective a real value. That’s why personalization is so important. If you customize emails according to the customer’s preferences, it is more likely to be read.

Keep in mind that your customers are busy with their own in-store preparations, so it’s best to steer away from a traditional marketing campaign when the timing may be off. Incorporate the holiday theme but keep the message short, concise and valuable. Make the bottom line clear and keep the calls-to-action simple.

If you want to take it a step further, leverage your marketing team. Give them a list of your top 10 accounts along with a set of goals you’d like to achieve. Maybe it’s a window display, in-store build-out, or simply hooking up shop employees with your gear. If your marketing department is strapped for cash, hit up your product department to contribute to the cause. For many companies, budgets that go unused are lost for good, so be sure to take advantage of the resources you have.

5. Motivate your sales team

Keep your sales reps’ spirits high and motivated during this time with incentives that will keep them going. Let them choose their holiday gifts when they reach their individual and team goals or when they close a sale they have been working on for a while. This will also be an opportunity to reward them for the hard work and dedication they show all year long.

Educate sales reps on key products and best-sellers so they can educate retail salespeople when they are closing the deal. Mutual success is always a win-win. You can even train your salespeople to conduct an “after-hours clinic” with retail employees. You can provide a budget for food and beverages to keep retail employees engaged. Send your reps with product knowledge packets or simple fact sheets focused on your products and brand so shop employees can reference them later on.

‘Tis the season

The holiday season is a great time to continue driving sales and maximize the unique sales opportunity it brings. With the right planning, B2B businesses can close sales gaps, increase revenue and strengthen relationships with clients during the holiday season — and beyond.