How to Get Out of a Sales Slump: 3 Ways to Get Back on Track
So, you’ve hit a sales slump.
When you see revenues going down and the number of sales dipping, it’s easy to panic. Is your marketing strategy wrong? Is your product not good enough? Have you run out of customers?
A sales slump can be terrifying, especially for small business owners. The business machine you thought you built might be whirring smoothly one month and seemingly collapsing the next. If you have employees, the stress might be even higher.
A sales slump doesn’t mean doom. In this article, we’ll explain how you can explore the causes of your sales slump and three ways to start recovering. With patience and focus, you can get back on track.
Diagnosing your sales slump
The causes of a sales slump vary widely, and it’s rarely possible to precisely pinpoint one.
Seasonality could be enough to make one month worse than the previous one. Summer, for instance, can be a slow time for many e-commerce businesses. Most consumers are enjoying their vacations and not thinking about making major purchases like they do during the holiday season.
Figuring out whether the causes are primarily internal or external is the first step you should make toward diagnosing your sales slump. If the cause is truly external, such as a seasonal dip, then the best you can do is plan ahead for the next season or offer some sales to get through it.
If you rule out external causes, however, then it’s time to take a critical look at your current sales strategies and come up with ways to meet end-of-quarter targets.
1. Cast a smaller net
When you’re going through a sales slump, you may feel tempted to cast a wide net over many customers. If you’re running out of customers, why not look for more customers, right?
That’s not as effective a strategy as it might seem.
Not everyone is a good fit for your product or service. Casting a wider net often means wasting your time and money on customers who might never be interested in your product. Even if a portion of them buy, the customer acquisition costs still have to be cheap enough for it to be worth your investment.
Instead, focus on your ideal target customers—the customers who matter most. Spend time trying to figure out how to reach those customers. Where do they spend their time online? How can you attract their attention? How can you capture their interest?
Counterintuitively, narrowing your scope might enlarge your customer base. Online, there are so many products and services that yours—without the right marketing—could be totally forgettable.
If you’re selling an app that improves productivity, for instance, you’re competing with thousands of others. If you narrow that app to improving productivity for real estate agents, more people will notice you and consider your product relevant. Before, your pitch was diluted; now, it stands out.
Casting a wide net will only prove to be a waste of time in the long run, so be as efficient as possible with your time.
2. Reconsider your calls to action
A call to action, or CTA, invites your customers to take action. For example, “shop the sale now” or “check out our new products” are CTAs.
Have you effectively sprinkled your website with CTAs? If not, it may be time to find ways to add them throughout the copy. If your blogging strategy is bringing in traffic but not revenue, you might just need to add the right CTAs. Converting blog readers to product customers is a key part of making content marketing work.
You’ll also want to add CTAs in your email marketing and social media posts. Make sure you have the analytics to back up any CTA experiments. CTAs are a great thing to A/B test so that you can determine what wording, placement, and frequency are best for converting the highest proportion of readers.
You’d be surprised how effectively a CTA can inspire a customer to make a purchase or move further along the sales funnel.
3. Build (and rebuild) your credibility
Be honest with yourself—what do your customers truly think of you?
A sales slump might be a sign you’ve lost some credibility with the customers who used to be your biggest advocates. If your customer service has been less than perfect or if your return policy is inadequate or if you’ve been slow to deploy updates, you might start to see sales slip.
This problem is especially hard to detect because it’s difficult to measure credibility and word of mouth effectively. There are a couple of ways to get a glimpse.
- Examine reviews: Check sites that enable customers to review your product or service, such as Amazon or the Apple App Store. Look for any common complaints or indications that your average score might be going down. Encourage customers who are happy to submit positive reviews.
- Send surveys: Use surveys to get opinions directly from your customers. You can ask how they have felt about your business, how they feel about it now, and how likely they are to recommend it.
- Talk to your sales team: If you have a sales manager or sales team, have honest conversations with them about the feedback they’re getting. They might still be able to get sales, but if the customers seem less excited than they once were, you might have a larger problem on your hands.
There’s a lot of competition for online businesses. Your customers’ belief in you is the best way to stand out and maintain a business that won’t fall prey to sales slumps.