Future Focus: Atlantic Blankets go fourth and maximise sales
Plan to maximise your Q4 online sales
Like many Cornish companies, a great deal of Atlantic Blankets’ annual business is represented by online sales in the crucial fourth quarter (Q4). Quite apart from the permanent staple of Christmas and its quickly-following seasonal sales, October, November and December are also home to more recent additions to the commercial calendar, Halloween and Black Friday.
The frenzy of Q4 is often seen in business as both a blessing and a curse. The former, because obviously it’s boom-time: sales spike and profits soar, due as much to the time of year as to any special efforts businesses make. And the latter because, well, it’s not just completely exhausting, but by definition it’s hard to plan and prepare for properly (and can have a distorting effect on the rest of the year, potentially leading to neglect of the other three quarters).
How Atlantic Blankets got ready for Q4 sales in 2020
Until she attended last year’s Maximising Online Sales sessions, Atlantic Blankets’ co-founder, Gemma Teague, shared some of these familiar misgivings. The way she describes it, you can almost picture her peeping at the calendar through frightened fingers:
It was at a time when it felt like we were in a whirlwind, getting the day–to–day done, ensuring we survived lockdown. With any mention of Q4 online I found myself hiding away …
It’s a recurring theme. Many businesses are simultaneously aware of the huge importance of Q4, but also the impossibility of freeing up the time to prepare properly. Like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, the outcome can sometimes feel like a kind of inertia, or paralysis.
Or at least it did. Gemma goes on to say:
… when I saw the Maximising Sales in Q4 Lab through Unlocking Potential it just resonated with me, and was exactly what we needed. Time to dedicate to Q4, to step outside of the day–to–day and focus on our most important quarter.
She’s also clear that the habits acquired on the programme have year-round benefits:
The labs have certainly made us better at planning and measuring, not only in Q4 but throughout the year.
Sales support and guidance from leading experts
Of course, we firmly believe that our speakers’ qualities – expertise, creativity, communication-skills, energy – are key to the sessions’ success. But we also know that, as with all our programmes, none of that would matter without participants first making the leap of faith to invest time they don’t really have in something which will benefit the business months and years down the line.
That, in combination with the experiences and input of their peers, is what really makes a difference to participants. As Gemma says, this applied to the 2020 sessions even though they were online:
It was so good to take time out and focus on one part of the business. But what made these sessions even better was that you were doing that with peers, and other businesses you admired. Sharing ideas, discussing challenges, planning for the better.
It’s this idea of discussing challenges and making plans which made all the difference to Atlantic Blankets, which Gemma runs with her husband Alistair Graham. In their case, the time they took to work on, not in, the business, involved planning and preparation, but also working out what they couldn’t realistically expect to do.
Since the labs, we’ve realised that as a small team of 2.5 we really didn’t have the time or know-how to do everything, so have now taken on agencies or staff to help with certain areas … ensuring we are doing all that we can to make the most of the sales opportunities.
What Atlantic Blankets are doing in 2021 to maximise Q4 sales
So with all this late-2020 learning, you’d expect Atlantic Blankets’ preparations for Q4 ‘21 to be up and running now, wouldn’t you? Gemma reports plenty of pre-summer work on inventory and sales-forecasting, and a lot of data-analysis and planning of designs. They’ve also been bearing down on the detail to avoid being stumped at short notice by something small but crucial, so (for example) have been making sure they won’t need to re-order and wait for packaging just when they most need it. As Gemma says:
With a stretch on capacity, Q4 was the one we so often just let ride out, as it’s always the quarter where we increase sales, but last year with a clear focus and a Q4 plan, we exceeded all expectations of sales.
If you’d like to be in a position next August to be relaxing, confident your plans for Q4 are made, effective and tested, why not get in touch about attending our four three-hour sessions over two weeks in September? Find out more.