When sales are down, businesses sink into gloom as fears abound about the very survival of the business. Sales are crucial for every business and the maximum effort is put into ensuring robust sales performance. But sales are the sum total of a series of factors, many of which are external to the business. A sliding sales performance means every effort has to be put into improving them. The following are some answers to the question of what to do when sales are down:
- Remember all current customers- When sales decline, it is time to get in touch with all the existing customers. Since they have been buying, special marketing skills are not required to convince them about your products, but instead they can be tempted to buy more with limited special offers. A small rebate may help to push sales levels up.
- Special incentives- Few customers can resist a rebate or special offer. When sales are down, interest in the products on offer can be renewed through incentives, special offers and discounts. This will increase volumes even though the offers may reduce the profit margin, which may not amount to much.
- Ask for discounts from suppliers- When sales are down, earnings can be maintained by reducing manufacturing costs by asking for some special discounts from suppliers providing the raw materials for the products. This is another way to maintain the same margin as before.
- Use the time to refresh sales programs- When sales are low, it is time to rethink sales and marketing and re-do some of the old programs. This may mean discarding some of the older practices and adopt newer ones.
- Create an online presence- When the real world markets are down, perhaps its time to make a foray into the virtual global market place, by creating an online presence in the form of a website. An attractive, user friendly website can help to push sales beyond geographical boundaries as well. It will help to make up for sagging local sales.
- Trimming and cost cutting- When sales are down, trimming expenses and cutting costs help to make the business financially fit. At such times a closer scrutiny of the financial accounts will show gaps and loopholes that can be plugged, expenses that can be reduced or cut, and hence reduce recurring expenses. Spending wisely is an alternative when savings do not take place.
- Improve customer service and build relationships- Sales can be down due to a general recession or due to new competition. In both cases, it is time to get the marketing and customer service act together by taking a closer look at perfecting customer service, deliveries on time, answering queries, providing all types of service and assistance and so on. At such times, building relationships with customers through customer engagement, knowledge sharing and keeping them involved by soliciting their opinions will prove helpful in biding the low demand time, and ensuring that the future sales do not plunge.
The question of what to do when sales are down is industry specific at times. Besides some of the above mentioned steps, some additional steps that will benefit specific industries can also be taken.