12/06/2013 03:37 pm ET Updated Feb 05, 2014

How to Increase Holiday Sales

Sales is as much about art as it is about business and this is never more true than during the holiday season. December is the make-it-or-break-it month for the thousands of businesses hoping to end the year on a solid note. Having spent time in the proverbial trenches, and having advised to my own sales team, I know how hard it is to create a sales formula -- a sure-fire way to close a sale every single time. But rather than sticking to a set formula, or god forbid a script, I've found that most salespeople instead learn how to organically adapt to the situation. Every one of your customers is different, and has different needs, so why would you ever assume that a one size fits all approach would work? After I took over MyCorp, I started pushing my sales team to use their innate talents to adapt to different situations. And while I can't give you a 100 percent guaranteed sales-closing guide for the holiday season, I can tell you what has worked for my team.

Don't Talk Over the Customer
One of the biggest mistakes a salesperson can make is to talk over the customer. Each customer has their own needs, and it is important for members of the sales team to find out what those needs are before continuing the conversation, lest your customer become hesitant too quickly. During the holidays, your customers are going to shop around and get a good idea of what they want, and the price they want it at. Unfortunately many salespeople are absolutely frightened of silence, and they feel they have to say something, really anything, to keep themselves from losing the sale. In the end, it comes down to confidence. You need to make sure your sales team is confident enough in their abilities to lead, and close, sales calls. Speaking too soon can make the customer question the price you are quoting them, and lead to a lost sale. Wait for the customer to talk, and then gauge their needs, lead the conversation, and ask them to order.

Use Silent Pauses
As I mentioned already, people like to shop around during the holidays for the best possible deals, and you can bet that your competitors are sending out coupons and discount codes to take advantage of the sales frenzy. When customers reach out to sales members with questions of their own, sales teams need to be on top of their game from the start of the call to its end. Filling in silent moments with 'umms' or 'ahhs' makes your customers lose confidence and trust, and broadcasts that your salespeople aren't sure of what to say next. Keep this from happening by training salespeople to use the silent pause instead. A silent pause helps them keep quiet for a few seconds, and take the time to think of what to say next. This ensures that the conversation flows smoothly, and that pauses are less noticeable to the customer.

Cross and Upsell
This ties inextricably to the point I made about confidence. Your sales team needs to know what it is selling, and which services will meet the needs of your customers. The last thing you want is for them to pass over your business in order to find a different company that can more fully meet their needs. As the owner of the business, you need to ensure that your sales team knows every detail about the product or service you sell, and knows how to identify the potential needs of customers. For example, I mainly work with businesses looking to incorporate or form an LLC. Businesses that are working on legitimizing themselves need a registered agent and, having identified that need, my sales team often pushes MyCorp's registered agent services so that our customers don't have to waste time looking somewhere else for a service we offer!

Ultimately, your sales department is going to be absolutely vital to making December a successful month for your business and, if you haven't already, you really should sit down with them and review the tactics they use to close. I always try to set employee reviews for the end of the year for that very reason. Go over an average sales call, see how they interact with customers, and give advice as to how they can improve and close on the sale. Be sure to encourage anyone who has questions or needs help to ask for it too. By taking a proactive approach to your sales department, you can ensure your company profits from holiday spending frenzies and gains a new, loyal customer base in the process.