Are Your Channel Incentives Ready for Seasonal Fluctuations in Sales?
Winter is coming and the holiday sales are fast approaching — with it comes seasonal fluctuations in sales. While just a month or so ago, people were talking about back to school sales, now people are getting ready for Christmas and other winter holidays. If your company is affected by seasonal fluctuations in sales, you may want to consider how channel sales incentives fit into the picture. Whether you are impacted by the winter holidays, or any other part of the year, there are three major components to keep in mind for a successful .
Know the Buying Behaviors of Customers
Every product will sell better at different times. Electronics sells well all year but have a particular boost in sales around the holidays. Whether you sell seasonal products or products that sell well around other times of the year, knowing the buying behavior and sale cycle of your customers will help plan when to start your incentives promotion. It also helps you plan how long your promotion should last. Do you only sell well for one month, or are customers buying your product for three months? You will want to focus your incentives promotions at appropriate times, depending on the buying behaviors of your customers. Alternatively, you might find that sales perform better than the off-season, and choose to focus your incentives on poor-performing periods. For example, pools sell better in the offseason, rather than summer. Knowing this, pool manufacturers can focus their incentive promotions during the colder months, to account for seasonal fluctuations. Whatever your strategy, stay focused and make informed decisions when planning your promotion.
Prepare for Seasonal Fluctuations
Building on the last point, once you know when your product sells more, you should start planning your incentives promotions a few months in advance to account for seasonal fluctuations. Consider marketing tactics, communication emails, and flyers if appropriate. Maybe your incentive program involves marketing funds for your channel partners. You will need to make sure everything is in order ahead of time. Allow three to six months of planning and preparation to get your program up and running! For example, if your product sells best around Black Friday sales, you will want to make sure all your resources are in place well before the launch of the sale. This means the planning should be started in August or September!
Also, knowing how much time it will take for your sales reps to be familiar with the incentive promotion will impact how early you prepare. You certainly don’t want your sales reps to be blindsided by the start of a promotion if you can help it!
Create Training Documents for your Reps
Provide training materials to help your salespeople sell more during the incentive period. If they have documentation of your products and the incentive rules, they will be better able to sell your products over the competitors. During seasonal fluctuations, there is often a lot of competition across brand names. If a rep is not confident in your brand’s products, they might opt to sell your competitor’s products instead (even if there are incentive promotions for your products). This is especially true if your distributors, dealers, retailers, and other partners bring in seasonal employees who are not familiar with your brand. You can’t help what your competitors bring to the table, but you can certainly help what resources and aid you provide for your own products.