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Source: Nordstrom

Source: Nordstrom

Halloween isn’t even here yet, but many retailers are already prepping for the holiday sales surge. According to the National Retail Federation, those retailers can also plan on seeing an even more sales than last year. The NRF predicts sales will jump 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion in November and December 2015.

While the total amount of sales is still expected to rise this year, the increase isn’t as large as the boost in 2014. Last year’s sales grew 4.3 percent compared to 2013.

Online sales are expected to see a large amount of this increase, outpacing the overall growth by rising between 6 and 8 percent this year to $105 billion.

According to the NRF’s report, holiday sales could account for around 19 percent of the retail industry’s total annual sales, projected to reach $3.2 trillion. Those predictions exclude auto, gas, and restaurant sales.

“With several months of solid retail sales behind us, we’re heading into the all-important holiday season fully expecting to see healthy growth,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “We expect families to spend prudently and deliberately, though still less constrained than what we saw even two years ago.”

“Price, value and even timing will all play a role in how, when, where and why people shop over the holiday season,” said Shay. “Retailers will be competitive not only on price, but on digital initiatives, store hours, product offerings and much more.”

The NRF holiday sales forecast takes into account many factors including consumer credit levels, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. The numbers do include a non-store category which considers direct-to-consumer, kiosks, and online sales.

 

Many startup companies make the same mistakes when conducting their sales campaign. We’re here to help you avoid them. Here are the seven most common mistakes for startups. While some of these may sound like common sense, knowing these ahead of time and knowing how to fix them can save your company a lot of trouble.

  1. Not Understanding Your Customer: Treating all clients as the same is a huge mistake many startups make. It is easy to make assumptions about what your customers will want but they will all have unique concerns and problems that have to be dealt with in a personalized way. Not every customer responds to the same sales pitch. Asking questions early on will allow you to answer their questions and sell them on your service.
  2. Not Selling: Rather than focusing on the extras and luxuries of your product, pinpoint the ways it will solve that specific client’s problems. This means asking the questions that will tell you what the customer needs. Showing a few ways your product will directly benefit a potential client goes a lot further than telling them about what you plan to put into the product later.
  3. Being Absent: Failing to meet potential customers in real life to close the sale means missing two of the most essential experiences for a startup. Not meeting in person hinders the ability to directly connect with clients and build long term relationships. It also means not hearing the specific concerns of the customer, which is easily the best way to improve what you are selling.
  4. Failing to Follow Up: After you give your pitch, follow up. While it seems that giving your pitch and traveling onto the next potential client increases prospective customers, moving on actually makes the clients forget about you. Don’t harass your leads, but keeping your product fresh in their memory until they make up their mind never hurts.
  5. No Process: Tracking basic information such as phone calls and emails, connections to decision makers, closed deals and deal values is an essential activity for startups, but many forget to do it. Having a process in place means knowing where you stand with all potential customers.
  6. Charging the Wrong Amount: While skewing prices cheaper seems like it would make your product more attractive, it can sometimes make customers question its value. Don’t undercharge. Set your price at one that will allow for a sustainable business and reflects the value of your product. Attract customers with what your product does, not how cheap it is.
  7. Not Asking For a Sale: If you have been in contact with a potential client for a relatively long period of time, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. If you’ve put effort into establishing a relationship with the potential client, they should be happy to close the deal.

While startup founders come from all walks of life, knowing how to be an effective sales person is required to make a product succeed. Even if you’ve already made one of these mistakes, they are easily fixable. With these problems solved, you’ll be well on your way to making your service a reality.

 

You can read more in Steli Efti’s article at TechCrunch