How to Increase Sales when Business is Slow?

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The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic impacted businesses of all size. Big or small, most businesses experienced a sharp decline in sales. While the pandemic was a once in a lifetime event for most of us, there are several other frequent causes for extended periods of low sales for a business. Some of these causes are controllable while others may be external, uncontrollable and unavoidable. In this post, we will cover tips and processes to increase sales when business is slow. How and what can be done to get back on track?

What could be the reasons for low sales?

If your business has been doing well and meeting sales goals in the past, what could be the reasons for low sales? What has changed?

While evaluating causes for low sales, check for the following:

  • Is there a significant reduction in number of new leads? This is a very common reason. Most businesses rely on one or two high performing sources for new leads and clients. Let’s say PPC campaigns on Google were the major source of new leads for your small business. Keyword competition and bids change over time. Entry of one or few competitors bidding higher than you for the top performing keywords may have changed your ad rankings and visibility. This would result in fewer leads and hence low sales. Check all your lead sources to identify any change in lead volumes and performance.
  • Is there a drop in lead conversion? Sales would be significantly lower for the same number of new leads if there is a drop in lead conversion. There could be several reasons for a drop in conversion, both internal and external. A change in target audience for marketing campaigns, a discount offer from a close competitor, delays in first contact by your team or a change in customer expectations could be some factors leading to lower conversion. Investigate to check if there is a drop and find the root cause to fix it.
  • Have you been losing repeat business from existing customers? While there may be no significant change in new leads and conversion rate, you may witness a gradual decline in repeat orders from existing customers. Again, there could be several reasons for customer churn – bad customer service, a competitor offering better deals or availability of a better product or service.

It is important to identify the reasons for low sales before you could fix it.

Related Business Case Study

How this small business increased sales when business was slow following the lockdown during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Small Business Case Study

What can you do to increase sales when business is slow?

If not checked, the long term impact on the business could be severe. Periods of low sales and other such challenges usually push a business to reinvent it’s processes and products for long term success. The following 5 steps will help you get the sales back on track.

Step 1: Check your lead pipeline

As customer expectations and business context evolve, there is a need to review your lead pipeline. Check for the following:

  • Flow of leads through pre-defined stages. Are there too many idle leads in one or more stages? Investigate the reasons. Do you need more resources to manage leads?
  • Check the common reasons for lost leads. Is there any change? Are you now losing more leads to one or more reasons such as “high price”? What changes can be made to address these issues?
  • Is there a delay in first contact and follow-ups? How can you reduce the time to contact and follow-ups?

Step 2: How to get new leads?

You may have relied on one or two sources earlier but you may now want to change the marketing mix.

  • Check the performance of each lead source: conversion rate, returns on total ad spend, average order value, customer life time value
  • Is there a need to change your marketing budget allocation on lead sources? Do you need to spend more on any one source like PPC, email marketing, social media marketing campaigns?

Step 3: Review your Competition

A new competitor or a change in strategy of existing competitors could be major reasons for low sales. Competitors may offer better deals to lure customers. They may introduce better products, launch a new advertising campaign, increase their marketing budgets or expand their sales team. Any and all of these would have a direct impact on your sales.

Step 4: Customer Feedback

Any analysis is complete without customer feedback. It is highly recommended to reach out to customers and get their feedback. You could roll out an online customer survey, employees could directly talk to customers walking in to your office or store, you may hire a third party agency to collect customer feedback. Customer inputs can be immensely helpful. This exercise will give very useful insights about not only your products, services, customer communication, engagement but also about your competitors. Use the insights to improve your products, services and overall customer experience.

Step 5: Set SMART Goals

All the above 4 steps will help you identify the root causes for low sales. As you start working on the improvement plan, it is important to set some SMART Goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound.

Goals will help build a monitoring and review process. Regular monitoring of the progress and key business metrics enable business sustainability. You will be better prepared for managing variations in sales and business performance.

Following these 5 steps will help you identify the reasons and make an improvement plan to increase sales when business is slow. Always remember that sales is more science than art. For consistent and predictable outcomes, businesses need to follow well defined sales processes and practices. REGISTER NOW for the Good Sales Practices (GSP) Maturity Model Assessment to check the effectiveness of your sales processes.

By Nitesh Verma

Founder - Business Management Blog. I am an independent business strategy consultant, helping companies take data driven business decisions. My mission is to find and implement simple solutions for complex business problems.


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