— December 15, 2017
This is a truly special time of year—and that holiday magic certainly extends to the small business world. Starting with Black Friday all the way back in November, then moving into Small Business Saturday, and continuing straight through the entirety of the holiday shopping season, today’s small businesses count heavily on the holidays—and the month of December specifically—for a successful year overall.
Whether your product or service is B to B and you’re courting organizations planning their budgets and resources for 2018, or you’re selling B to C and looking to secure a piece of the nearly 700 billion in projected retail sales coming this holiday season, there is no denying the power and importance of holiday sales. However, if the sole focus of your small business this holiday season is to rack up transactions in the cash register, you’re leaving a lot of value on the table and I have two very important words for you: customer information.
With increased demand, traffic, customer interaction and sales (hopefully!) this holiday season comes a cascade of opportunity for invaluable customer information capture. Who bought the product? How much were they prepared to spend? What other products did they look at? Did they ask about any similar or complimentary products? Did they respond to a particular sale or advertisement? Securing information on all of these (and more) important points can prove invaluable to the health and success of a company.
It’s possible you may be able to utilize the customer information you capture in real time to make additional point of purchase sales this holiday season. Even if you can’t, rest assured that 2018 is indeed coming and gaining insight into who your customers are, what they’re looking for, how much they want to spend and more will undoubtedly contribute to the success your business see’s next year and beyond.
At this point, you’re probably (hopefully) reading along and thinking to yourself, “This makes sense, but how do I grab all this important customer information? How do I organize it and how do I interpret it?” The good news is you actually have a variety of options.
If you’re a small mom and pop shop and your customer interactions are limited, you may be able to speak with your customers one to one in person or over the phone and ask them questions as you go through the purchase process. Then, you might simply organize this information in something as simple as an Excel file if you’d like. This may be sufficient for some of the solopreneurs out there but for most small business owners who either have extremely limited time or employees interfacing with customers for sales and/or customer service, I’d recommend a small business-focused customer relationship management (CRM) tool to help capture and manage the customer information you receive through all your in-store, telephone and online interactions.
Be careful to select the right CRM that will provide you with real, actionable value. A few important tips would be to avoid bulky software systems that come loaded with a lot of extra features you’ll never use. Also, look for options that might save you time (what’s more valuable to a small business owner than time, right?). Some small business CRM’s available this holiday season come with voice-activated technology to make it easier than ever to access customer information. Additionally, if you engage in email marketing as a source of new leads and customer retention, consider a CRM with a complimentary email marketing platform. This might save you money and will almost certainly save you time if you find the right option for your business.
Small business success requires constant vigilance and attention to both the short and long term success of the company. All too often, today’s sales opportunities take precedence over future growth during this time of year. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. A properly executed customer information capture plan, with the right tools in place, will allow today’s small businesses to acquire the intel they need to be successful in 2018 and beyond without compromising the very real—and very important—sales opportunities of the 2017 holiday season. Just remember, today’s customer information capture success may mean next holiday season’s sales bonanza! And isn’t it always nice to have a little something to look forward to? Best wishes for a happy holiday, fantastic sales and robust customer information capture small business owners!