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Holiday Sales Guide

It’s that wonderful time of the when we start to gear up for the holidays. For retailers, this holiday season is a way to reconnect with customers who will make their way back to stores.

We’ve put together a holiday retail sales training guide for that will help meet customer and staff expectations and increase sales.

Holiday Shopping and COVID

Post-COVID, the retail landscape has changed drastically, but most basic principles for increasing sales remain the same, although there should be more emphasis on them now.

During the holiday season, retail stores need to communicate their safety strategy to their staff and customers. Customers and staff are anxious, and they need to know you’re working through all the safety procedures. Next, make sure you are giving customers everything that they need. Keep in mind your customers don’t want to make a second or third trip back to the store.

What hasn’t changed is the need to create exceptional customer experiences. Let’s face it, the shopping experience isn’t great, so you need to double down and work harder to engage with customers. There needs to be a sense of urgency among your staff. There is limited time and customers, so you need to maximize the value of every customer.

Kickstart Your Holiday Sales

If you want to kickstart your holiday sales, develop and launch a sales contest that will get your staff’s attention and produce solid results. Sound easy?  It’s not!  To drive success on the sales floor, your contest must follow these important guidelines:

  • It must be simple.
  • It must be ‘winnable.’
  • It must be easily measured.
  • It must be completed within a short time frame (one week maximum!).
  • It must include relevant rewards.
  • It should involve continuous communication.
  • You should consider alternating between individual and team-based events.

For example, let’s look at how we might launch a sales contest based on individual sales performance.  Keep in mind the guidelines above as we develop the parameters for this competition.  They might look like this:

  1. The winner is the salesperson who achieves the highest items per sale, or IPS.  (Same thing as Units per Transaction.)  (Simple)
  2. Since the competition is based on employee performance during each transaction, everybody has a chance to win.  (Winnable)
  3. Simply track their IPS on a daily and weekly basis.  (Easily measured)
  4. Let’s run this contest for one week to allow everyone (including part-timers) to participate.  (Short time frame)
  5. The first-place winner will take home an extra $25.  Second place gets you $15, and third wins $5.  (Relevant rewards)
  6. The Store Manager (or shift manager) will quickly review each employee’s progress with her during each contest shift.  (Continuous communication)

Simple, isn’t it?  Yet, it is well-conceived with clear and obvious guidelines that are regularly communicated.  Everyone will have a chance to win, so everyone will ‘pull a little harder on the oars’ this week!

An alternative to individual competition is using similar parameters but playing one shift ‘team’ against another.  Or hold a competition with another store in your area.  You could even get your District Manager to challenge another region.  Wouldn’t that be fun?

And remember … don’t wait for your Head Office to launch the next contest.  Take the initiative and run one today in your own store.  Keep the rewards simple, if need be, but get it done!

Not sure this will generate some excitement in your store?  Then clearly, you’re underestimating the competitive edge and desire for recognition that drives most great salespeople.  If you follow these guidelines and your staff still isn’t interested … maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your staff!

How to Drive Holiday Sales

Are you ready to make this a great holiday selling season?  There’s no reason why you can’t sell more!

Here are 5 things we think you need to get on top of right now if you haven’t already:

  1. Get your cashiers selling: If you don’t have a cash counter selling program in place, you need one fast.   Have your cashiers prompt customers on inexpensive items merchandised at the cash desk. Impulse items or stocking stuffers work best. It’s the easiest way to add a dollar or two (or ten!) to your average transaction values.
  2. Add-On like never before! How many of you have to buy just one gift this Christmas? (if you do, you might need more friends!)  Now is the time to prompt customers for other possible purchases.  What you need is a solid add-on strategy.
  3. Work smart:  Set up displays and re-stock before the store opens or after it closes.  Be ready to sell the entire time your doors are open!  Use your available hours more wisely.  And PLEASE, don’t let us find you not waiting on customers!  C’mon!  You’ve waited all year for this…don’t waste the potential standing in your stores.
  4. Stay on top of your sales stats:Track and manage your key stats (IPS, Avg Sale, Conversion Rate) aggressively.  When things get busy, there’s a tendency for staff to “clerk” instead of sell. Hold them accountable to their targets and make sure you’re squeezing every last possible dollar out of the store. Begin each shift by challenging your staff to come up with different ways they could improve each metric.
  5. Get into your stores:We always tease our clients that ‘you make money in the stores, and spend it at Head Office.’  Go to where the action is.  Your staff, product and customers are all found in the stores.  Go see how well plans are being executed. Check on staff performance.  Sell something yourself.  Listen. Learn. Adjust.

Add On Strategies to Boost Holiday Sales

Here is a 5-step add-on strategy that you can use with every customer that comes to your store.

  • Who Else is on Their List? After the customer has figured out the main item they want to buy, you need to start a conversation with them to get them to add-on. Ask them how their Christmas shopping is coming along and who else is on their list. This might open the door to another sales opportunity.
  • Self Gift: Most people end up buying themselves something during the holiday season. Ask the customer if they saw anything in the store that they would like for themselves.
  • Holiday Entertaining: Even with COVID, people are still going to be doing some entertaining. They might not be going out to restaurants which means there are going to be smaller gatherings at homes. What are the types of things your customers might need if they are entertaining at home? You need to explore products that fit into people’s entertaining needs.
  • Gift Cards: This time, I want to focus on gift cards at the end of the sale. Just get the customer into the conversation by telling them how a gift card can help when someone shows up at their house with an unexpected gift. Having a couple of gift cards around really helps in this situation.
  • Stocking Stuffers: This is an easy opportunity to drive up your average sales by a few dollars. Just ask the customer if they exchange stockings in their families and tell them about your items.

If you follow these five easy add-on strategies with your customers, expect to sell one or two additional items along the way.

Maximizing Transactions and Experiences

As a retailer, you need to maximize every single transaction. There is nothing wrong with putting more money in the register, but you need to focus on providing complete solutions. Try to limit the number of trips a customer needs to make to your store. For example, if you run a hardware store and someone orders paint and a roller, anticipate what they are missing and make sure they add these items on.

The next thing you can do is to maximize the customer experience. I know it’s tough in these circumstances to wear masks and stand 6-feet apart, but you need to double down on your efforts in providing an amazing shopping experience. Providing an amazing experience now is also going to have an impact on your sales in 2021. Go Deep on The Experience!

These are two easy things that you can work on. It’s a challenging situation out there, but you can do this!

Good Luck. Good Selling. Stay Safe.


At Graff Retail, we create leading-edge retail training programs specifically designed and customized to increase staff knowledge and performance with innovative teaching methods to drive sales and revenue for businesses.

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