Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Can You Do When Your Business Sales Are In “Free-falling” Mode?

Are Your Sales on Free-Fall Mode?
Running a business is definitely quite a particular challenge, and one capable of bringing in a huge emotional load to your life, often with really intense emotions.

One of those “intense” emotions is the anxiety experienced when you realize sales are steadily decreasing, and it may easily exceed your strengths and take you deep into a strong state of anxiety, regardless of how strong you might think you are or how professionally prepared you can be.

It's an overwhelming feeling!

However, like with all things in business and life, it’s possible to completely recover from such situation and overcome this fall, once you've identified you’ve got a problem, shake the dust from your lap and get back on your feet.

Always keep an eye on your numbers.

That’s the first advice you'll always receive: Keep your numbers under accurate control, no matter what.

Have you ever found yourself tripping on the street and then fell down? Do you remember how it happened? First your feet stumble, trip a bit, you lose overall balance, your arms try to find something to hold on to avoid falling and finally pum.... you're down there, lying on the floor (Let's hope not that many people saw it!)

A drop in sales occurs in the same way: it starts slowly, you get into a denial stage as you can’t believe it’s happening, then you realize it is really happening and start to wonder why, and finally, when it’s almost too late, the drop is fully developed and goes top speed.

Whether it’s your own personal sales, or your business or corporate sales, you have to keep a strong, efficient and detailed control of your numbers and review them frequently, so that you can timely detect any deviation from what is expected or any trend indicating the "beginning of the fall" or that "something is wrong", and not to wait until it’s too late to make any correction.

Just as we do with any disease, we take the medication (or at least, we should) when we start experiencing certain symptoms of discomfort, when we are not in a “take me to ER right now” kind of situation.

That your sales are already free-falling and you want to recover?

Recovery from a sales slump can be accomplished with ease, and can usually be done in a quick way, if you can keep your mind calm and concentrate your efforts on doing what you have to do, and not continue whining about the situation.

Make a plan + Stay positive + Concentrate on Getting Things Done

To accomplish the recovery, you need three things: You must create a plan of action, keep a positive attitude and have the drive to get things done.

Concentrate on closing the easiest sales:

  • Concentrate your actions on selling your best-sellers and best-rated products.
  • Make a list and identify those clients with whom you have the best relationship with and who you can encourage to buy more by providing sales incentives. You can also identify those proposals which are closer to the decision-making moment and concentrate on doing everything in your hands to close them and bring the business home.
  • At this time you should not be looking for long-term sales. You have to focus on bringing in more money and close sales for the following days, weeks or even a couple of months, until the recovery is accomplished, nothing more.

Find people who can criticize you openly and honestly.

At this point you need to know what you're doing wrong, either at product, company or even personal level. You need to know what’s happening and how that is keeping your customers from buying, or at least not buying as much as they did before.

It could be a situation generated by the market itself or the government, which will give you a poor excuse, but will probably make you feel a bit better. But it could also be a problem exclusively related to you and your business. That you need to know, and for that you can’t count on your own assessment. You need to receive feedback from people around you: employees, suppliers, associates and, more importantly, customers.

At this time, don't look for your mom's advice.

Their reviews and honest opinions will help you learn about the things you can do to improve both your product and the services you offer. Remember: Do not seek for your mom’s advice or your significant other's opinion. These reviews are biased and will not do any good.

Concentrate your efforts on improving on everything you learned.

Now that you have a better idea of the reasons why your sales began to crumble to the ground, you can concentrate all your efforts and energies in doing everything necessary to improve what needs to be improved.

If it’s about a dysfunctional product, you either have to remove it from your line or actually improve it; if advertising is sending the wrong message, you have to take care of it; if it’s about you having to deepen on your product or sales training, then you have something to start working on. The goal is to start making things better.

This is the time to make things happen. Now you know how it feels to see your sales dropping. 

You know it’s very unpleasant and probably do not want to experience it again, so from this point on it’s a matter of establishing a strong commitment on your side and not to let it happen again and, if it occurs, to take corresponding actions more quickly.

One last thing: Stop blaming yourself or looking for someone to blame.

Markets are dynamic environments and move fast enough as to be of any use to seek for a culprit or someone to blame for the drop in your business sales. That will only wear you out and take away energies you need to focus on other, more productive things.

It doesn’t matter who or what is responsible for the situation. The important thing is to focus on solving it as soon as possible and bring those numbers back to normal again. It is your sole responsibility as the business owner, a responsibility you also have with your wallet and your shareholders.

Roll up your sleeves and dive deep into solving your sales slump and boost those numbers back towards the positive side.

Image credit: hyrons / 123RF Stock Photo

Related post in this blog:
How to Make a Sales Plan For Your Business?

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