The fourth quarter of the year is a time when most merchants go into the black and begin to turn a profit that makes up for shortcomings during the rest of the year. Holiday sales alone make up around 19 percent of retail sales. However, it only takes one significant mistake to eat into your annual profits rapidly.
Fortunately, you can learn what not to do by studying the mistakes of other businesses and even things you’ve done wrong in the past. An integral part of running a successful business is learning from mistakes and working smarter. Here are eight mistakes B2B companies make that you can avoid.
1. Not Planning
Even though Q4 is vital to overall success as a business, many companies get so sidetracked throughout the year that they fail to prepare for the last three months of the year. When you don’t set aside time to plan for fourth-quarter sales, you risk losing out on holiday revenue. Your competitor is likely to prepare, so don’t risk losing business to them.
2. Failing to Recognize Your Clients’ Challenges
Since your customers are business owners too, they face a set of unique challenges during the holidays. Things are hectic, and they may feel completely overwhelmed as the holiday rush hits. If you work with retail establishments, this will almost certainly be the case. Figure out what your business clients need most during this time, even if it’s just a few words of cheer or encouragement.
Splash offers services for event planners and marketing companies, so it makes sense that they’d create a video holiday card offering some words of encouragement to event planners. Their “Holiday Ode to Event Planners” is cute and encouraging.
3. Not Scaling Fulfillment for the Holidays
Since a significant percentage of your sales come during the holidays, as mentioned above, you’ll see a rapid increase in sales during the holidays. Some businesses fail to prepare for the logistics of such fulfillment. If you sell a physical product, you must figure out how many seasonal workers you need to pack and ship those orders, add customer service agents and even update your inventory before the busy season hits. If you have a service-based business, you still need to prepare for an influx of new customers by hiring extra technicians or service reps.
4. Ignoring the Importance of the Trust Factor
You’re likely to attract a lot of new clients in the fourth quarter, so adding reviews and testimonials to your site adds a trust factor for those who’ve never done business with you before. You can even highlight some of your top reviews/testimonials near the top of the page to show new visitors how much others love your products or services. You’re asking people to share their hard-earned dollars with you, so you have to give them a reason to feel comfortable doing so.
Cherry’s Industrial Equipment does a great job of highlighting numerous positive reviews on their landing page. They point out that they have more than 20,000 customers who already trust them, then highlight some of their five-star reviews. However, they also offer the opportunity for site visitors to view all their testimonials to get a complete feel for the quality of the products they offer.
5. Ignoring Seasonal Advertising
If you want to take advantage of winter holiday sales, you must add some holiday incentive to your advertising campaigns. Don’t keep running the same campaigns you put out month after month. People are looking for discounts and specials. Entice consumers who’ve been thinking about trying your product with a special Black Friday discount, for example, and you may gain a lifelong customer from that one campaign.
6. Not Giving Back
Studies show 34 percent of charitable giving happens during the fourth quarter of the year, and about 18 percent of that giving is in December. Figure out how you can give back to causes you care about as a company. Share your charitable giving campaign with your followers. People who also support that cause are likely to come on board and do business with you.
Plus, it just makes you feel good to be in a position to give back to others, and you can also help reduce your overall tax burden for the year.
SDL focuses on donating a portion of their sales to their charitable foundation. SDL Foundation works with disadvantaged communities around the world. They’ve completed more than 80 projects and helped over 16,000 people in 28 countries over five years. They ramp up their giving during the holidays, but the foundation works year-round.
7. Not Following Up
What is your plan for follow-up after all those new customers come in during the fourth quarter? You must plan beyond Q4 and into Q1 for the next year. Part of your strategy should include reaching out to anyone who ordered in the last part of the previous year. Are they happy with their purchase? Is there anything else they need? What can you do to retain their business going forward?
8. Having Only Short-Term Goals
Q4 is a mere three months out of the year, so it’s easy to focus on a very short-term goal during the holidays. However, failing to have a long-term plan for not only how you handle the holidays, but how you maximize those sales throughout the year, means you’re missing out on an opportunity. How will you retain those customers you gain during Q4? The overall goal should be steady growth year after year.
Avoiding every blunder is impossible. However, you can learn from the mistakes and the successes of others and strive to improve your fourth quarter each year. With a little self-reflection and planning, your fourth quarter may be your most successful ever.