Are you on track to meet your sales goal for the year or does your target seem unreachable because of a prolonged slump in sales. It’s natural for any business to experience a downturn. Sometimes you just need to ride things out. However, if sales have been slow for too long, it’s time to address the situation head on. Getting out of a sales slump takes determination, a positive attitude and an action plan that may involve doing things differently. Even with just two months left before the year ends, there’s still time to turn things around to meet year-end goals or get them on course for a more robust new year.
Have a positive attitude
For starters, don’t try too hard. That’s advice from Steve Strauss in “To Get out of Sales Slump, Think like a Ball.” To a considerable degree, turning around sales has a lot to do with attitude as much as the steps you take to boost customer demand. Strauss advises that you don’t try to turn things around at once, but instead take ‘baby steps’ to get sales back on track. Every little achievement will boost your confidence.
It also may be that you need to take a breather from the business from time to time to gain perspective and relax. Take a day off, listen to music or go to a movie, says Strauss. Essentially do whatever it takes to relieve the pressure so that you can tackle the challenge feeling fresh.
As for thinking like a ball, that means being flexible. No matter which way you move, you want to keep the ball in balance. The same goes for dealing with a sales slump. No matter what is causing the slump, you need to remain in balance, which may mean doing things differently than you did in the past. For example, if a new competitor has come into your market with a compelling value proposition; it may be time to revise yours. You may even need to rethink your customer base because of changes in the market.
As a first step to boosting demand, talk to some of your customers to find out exactly why they have cut back on buying at this time. It may be that their sales are slow or that another supplier is offering a more compelling offer in terms of pricing or range of products and services.
Spend time on social networks, too, to see what customers are saying about the marketplace, including your offerings. Track competitive social network pages to see what’s attracting fans. With customer and market information under your belt:
Make changes to your marketing: Some of your traditional offline marketing may need to shift to online, including mobile channels. For example, you may need to optimize your website for mobile device viewing or develop an app to help customers engage with your products and services more conveniently. You also may need to increase your social media activity to include more frequent posts and more compelling content that engages customers in a conversation. Video content is one of the most effective ways to tell your story. If you haven’t already set up a YouTube channel to post videos showing your products and services in action, now may be the time.
Rethink pricing: You don’t necessarily have to lower prices, but you may want to give your customers a range of options, possibly based on the number of service calls or product enhancements they can get, to make your offering more compelling.
Network: You can do a lot of networking online these days through social business sites such as LinkedIn where you can join groups. Reach out to individuals who may good prospects or help open the doors to some. Start by building a relationship with your LinkedIn associates before you ask for an introduction to someone or their business. But don’t limit your networking to the virtual world. Attend business and industry conferences taking place in your city. Try to meet as many people as possible to forge relationships that can help raise visibility and awareness about your small business that will lead to sales.
Your small business didn’t get in a sales slump in a day and it won’t get out of one in a day either. But by having the right attitude, putting a plan in place and keeping at it, you’ll turn things around sooner than you even expected.