6 ways to make a closed door sale work for you


THERE are many established retailers that successfully use closed door sales for their customers. Closed door sales creates an opportunity for creativity. Big retailers have been known to do things like invite their loyalty card holders to special after-hours events where they can shop in peace and access discounts and special offers.

Yet many small businesses haven’t considered hosting a closed door sale. Here’s a quick guide on holding successful closed door sales.

Know why you’re doing it

There are many reasons to consider a closed door sale: such as a quick boost of sales for the month; offering customers a reward for their loyalty, drumming up referral business by getting attendees to bring a friend as their entrance ‘fee’, or simply clearing old stock. The reason will affect how the sale is run.

Choose the product carefully

Businesses should do a stock take and sacrifice products that have been hanging around too long on a cost price sale (or even below). And resolve not to buy those lines again.

However, it’s also important to remember that people are not stupid – if there are only deals on unpopular lines, the sale will flop. Sales don’t only have to focus on reducing prices and business can get creative by adding value that doesn’t cost much.

Timing is everything

Customers are more likely to attend a sale if it’s at a time that’s convenient for them. So business owners should think about who their customers are.

Do they work during the day; are they likely to be busy on specific nights; are they able to get to the sale more easily at certain times than other due to traffic? People are less likely to have plans during the week than on weekends.

For some reason, Wednesday evenings seem to work well for most closed door sales. If, however, most of customers live far away but work nearby, it might work best to run a lunchtime sale.

Market the sale well

For a successful sale, businesses need to entice their database to attend. The message needs to be quick, targeted and clear. The headline or subject letter needs to explain the benefits, and use an enticing ‘PS’, which is often the most read part of a letter.

They shouldn’t ramble or have a layout so busy that people have a hard time reading the invitation.

Do a cost analysis

Understanding what a closed door sale will cost can help business owners assess whether it’s worthwhile. This can be done by working out the total fixed costs for the campaign and then working out the profit by subtracting the variable costs from the average Rand value of the sale.

This should indicate how many responses are needed for the sale to be a success. Dividing this by the number of people on a database will show the required percentage response rate. Anything over 15% is stretching it. If a 40% response rate is needed to make a profit, it might be worth rethinking the sale.

Maximise the sale day

It’s one thing to attract hundreds of people to a closed door sale, but quite another to actually get them to buy. Business owners should plan ahead and get staff on board.

They could consider providing basic snacks to encourage customers to stick around for longer. It’s important not to waste the opportunity– and preparation can ensure a sale will run smoothly.

* Pieter Scholtz is the Co-Master Franchisor for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa.

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