As small business owners we have all experienced sales slumps at one time or another. It can occur during the early stages of a business when your reputation is only forming, during a downturn in the economy, or as a result of new competitors in your market. However, there are steps that you can take to jump-start sales and get your business back on track. All you need is a positive attitude and the desire to embrace the change. Here are a few pointers that can help:
Focus and Assess Sales and Activity Levels – Assess your sales process and understand where the fall-off is occurring in your process. Is the top of your sales funnel weak? You may need to focus on lead generations activities to increase your prospect pool. If you don’t have enough prospects, you may need to supplement your lists and look at new markets. Perhaps, you are getting the leads but you are not converting the sale. If you find you can’t close enough business, it may be time to get some additional training to help you be a better “closer.” Remember, even in good times it is always important to continually monitor key steps in the sales process so you can figure out where you need to change and improve.
Utilize Your Contacts – Never be afraid to pick up the phone, email or write letters to clients/customers you’ve had successful business relationships with and request referrals for new business prospects. Follow up on any leads that you acquire and mention your new product or service to generate interest.
Perfect Your Sales Pitch – Delivering your sales pitch is your first impression with your prospect and one of the most vital steps in the entire process. Practice it with different people to see if it is delivering the punch you need. Doing your homework on a prospective client is vital to determining if your product or service will be valuable to them. Remember your sales pitch is a dialogue, not a monologue, remain confident and never pushy.
Don’t Fear Change – Your market may have shifted and new technologies may have made some of your products and services less desirable. Speak to your current clients and find out what they think and learn what they are buying. Consider revamping your offerings if they are indicating that there is something better out there. You don’t want to be the next Kodak that lost its way as new substitute products came into the market.
Deploy a CRM Tool – There are many low cost Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools out there that can help you through the entire sales and customer service process - - from managing your contacts, proposals, follow-up correspondence to prospects and clients, and sales projections. Many of these systems are now available in the “Cloud” so you pay a fee based on the number of users and your information will automatically be backed up and updated on an ongoing business. These systems can be a very effective way to efficiently manage the whole sales process for your company. Some of the more popular programs include Salesforce.com, Sage ACT 2011 and GoldMine.
Maintain Your Confidence – A sales slump can affect your confidence and question your dreams of owning a business, but you should always keep in mind that it’s only a temporary setback. Cast your doubts aside and revive your confidence, it’ll certainly come across to your current and prospective clients.
I would like to thank Kymberly Sheckleford for preparing this article with me. Kymberly is a Marketing Analyst at our company. Don’t forget, you can email me at Peggy@Consultants2Go.com with any questions you might have and I’ll be glad to answer them. You can also follow me and my business on Twitter @peggymchale and @consultants2go.