The holidays are here again!

Make the most of this opportunity to build lifelong customers

The holidays are here again and it’s naturally a very busy time for salespeople. It’s a time where salespeople will make a lot of sales, and an essential time to expand their customer base.

The first thing to remember is that your customer service standards are constant and just because it’s busier during this time of year, doesn’t mean standards change. The manner in which you apply the standards, however, can change based on a number of factors.

Unlike the middle of July, the holidays are a time that will bring in more new customers than any other time of the year. People that don’t typically shop during the year are now coming in to shop for their family and friends and providing quality customer service may require a different approach.

There are all kinds of different shoppers. There is the shopper who would rather be doing anything else than talking to a salesperson at that moment, but they know they have to get this done. The best thing the salesperson can do is recognize that the customer’s goal is to get what they want and get out. In this case, a salesperson may want to shorten their presentation and listen more. Their goal of getting in and out quickly becomes your goal. Listen to what they want and do your best to provide it as quickly as possible. However, you have to take the time, in a customer service driven manner, to try to capture their contact information and get permission to follow-up after the holidays. It doesn’t sound like great customer service, but it is because you are giving the customer exactly what they want.

The second type of new customer during the holidays is also the one who rarely shops but doesn’t know what they want or where they should even begin. This is where a salesperson must be patient and willing to ask a series of questions to help the customer narrow down their choices. They may know they want to buy some kind of jewelry for their wife, but that’s all they know. In this case, the salesperson may ask questions such as: What type of earrings does she have? Tell me about her jewelry wardrobe?  What type of necklaces does she wear? The customer may not know it, but they know what they want. They just need you to find the information and help bring it out. The customer may hear you say earrings and that triggers the memory of his wife asking for new earrings a while back.

Once you have figured out that earrings are the ticket, then you can begin to ask the questions that will help you find the right pair of earrings. The point is simple - these types of customers actually do know what they want, it just takes a salesperson willing to listen to help them figure it out.

The holidays are a great time to expand your customer base. Yes, you want to make sure each and every customer is getting what they want for the holidays, but if you provide excellent customer service then you can do more than close a sale, you can establish a lifelong customer.

The gentleman who bought the earrings in the situation above is a perfect example of someone who will come back if they received quality service. Maybe his anniversary is in June and when he starts to think about what to get his wife for their 20th, he remembers the interaction he had with the salesperson who sold him the earrings. He returns to that store and that salesperson and walks out with a band representing 20 years of marriage. This is just one example, there are numerous events and occasions during the year where jewelry would make an appropriate gift. If you take the time with every customer during the holidays, then you have a chance to grow your repeat customer base and that’s the key to long-term success.

The holidays are also a great time to capture contact information from not only your new customers, but also the people that did not purchase from you during the holiday season. Take advantage of all the traffic you have coming into your store. Ask every person that comes into the store for their contact info, so that you can get them into your database. It is all about top of mind awareness. The key is that you have to get their information in a way that gives you permission for future follow-up. This takes practice. Introducing your clienteling process in a way that gets the customer’s permission for follow-up is essential. Through offering to keep a record of past purchases, to invite the customer to special events, so you can remind the customer of upcoming life events, to offer a free clean and check, are all examples of ways to capture contact information with permission for follow-up. Make sure you send thank you notes and make follow up calls when appropriate. All of these things add up to a relationship that leads to more than just the one sale you are making today. Remember though - it’s vital that the customer feels comfortable with the information they are giving you.

Some other things to remember during the holidays:

Remember that people can get tense and irritable during this time of year. Everyone is busy and sometimes that irritably might be taken out on the salesperson. Don’t take it personally and do your best to be understanding. The best thing you can do to help them is to provide great customer service and make sure they get exactly what they came in to get. They may not appreciate it at the time, but in March when they need something else that memory of how professional you were may very well bring them back.

Don’t forget the add-ons! Holidays are a fantastic time to add-on to every sale. If a woman is buying a watch for her husband, maybe she has a son who also needs a watch before he leaves for college. Most people have more than one person that they are shopping for during the holidays and by simply asking, “Who else is on your gift giving list we can take care of for you today?” might just lead to some additional sales.

Providing great customer service during the holidays is not always easy and there are challenges that do not exist at other times of the year, but the rewards are worth it.

The goal for a salesperson during the holidays is to make sure every customer is satisfied and leaves with exactly what they want and to lay the foundation for future sales.

Long term success is based on repeat business and referrals, and there’s no better time of year to establish both. 

Happy holidays and happy sales!

Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Huisken authored the books, “I’M a salesman!  Not a PhD.” and “Munchies For Salespeople: Selling Tips That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into” and his new book “Munchies For Salespeople II: More Selling Tips That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into”. He developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, The Employee Handbook and Policy & Procedures Manual, his Weekly Sales Training Meeting Series offers an entire year’s worth of weekly meeting plans along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers. The IAS Train the Trainer Course and IAS Training’s Certified Professional Programs for Pawnbrokers or Jewelers consistently receive high acclaim in their respective industries. In addition, the IAS Training FREE weekly subscription newsletter, called “Sales Insight,” is key to retailers keeping current! Contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,