What are the signs and symptoms that contribute to those periods when sales are slow?
The first thing to do is analyze what’s happening. Here’s where to start:
- Reduced Revenue: Compare your revenue numbers year over year and then quarter over quarter. Include an analysis of product groups or service types to see where you’re losing revenue.
- Reduced Profitability: No revenue drop? Look at your profitability to confirm whether it has decreased. If so, pull reports to look at expenses.
- Dry Pipeline: Evaluate your sales team’s closing ratio versus last year, last quarter, and last month, which can be easily done in your CRM. Is there a percentage increase or decrease in closed won deals? If there’s a decrease, drill down into the numbers to see which reps are underperforming, variances in new lead types, marketing campaign ROI, and more.
- Reduced Exposure: Check both web traffic via Google Analytics and physical on-site foot traffic. See a decline? Maybe it’s a marketing issue?
- Negative Overall Business Trends: Under normal conditions, a downturn in business could be due to seasonal conditions that are affecting demand for your product or service or new competitors in the marketplace. Today, it might be the temporary downward global economic period or the current COVID-19 pandemic – affecting purchasing habits.
Every business experiences slow periods. Maybe you know when your slow periods will come. Maybe your business has started slowing unexpectedly. Either way, you are better off treating this lull as an opportunity.
With a little creative thinking and planning ahead, you might be able to generate the revenue you need during those slow periods. And, who knows, maybe in the process you’ll find a new revenue generator or two that will help your business during its busiest times, too.
Whether you have a large or small business, here are eight ways to try to keep the cash flowing when sales slow down.
1. Develop a Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are far from a brand new idea, but they continue to exist because they tend to work. You just need to make sure you’re putting the proper time and investment into it so yours can stand out from the pack. A loyalty program can be as simple as a punch card or a more complex point system. Whatever format you use, the strategy is similar: You track customers’ purchases and reward them with a discount or freebie. This helps keep customers coming back in order to earn the reward. If possible, also build a rewards-for-referrals element into your loyalty program to incentivize customers to recommend your business to friends.
2. Offer a Freemium
Freemium is when you offer a free (limited) version of your product so potential customers get a “taste” of your product so they start to rely on your product. Once they are hooked, the goal is to convert them into paying customers when they want or need the more premium level features of your product or services. A great example of this is Calendy, a free scheduling software. You can create one event type for free, but need to upgrade (pay) for additional meetings along with other features including group events, customizable email notifications, SMS notifications, and more.
3. Consider a Complementary Service or Product
What related services or products would your customers appreciate? Perhaps you own a gourmet food store and you decide to stock it with specialized kitchen equipment or add an online ordering and delivery service. Maybe you own a landscaping company. Consider adding snow removal during winter. Or maybe you’re a summer camp owner. Consider using the winter months to rent out your facilities for conferences, weddings, and more.
No matter what, don’t just think of your primary product or service as the only asset your business has, because often your location or expertise can also generate revenue ideas. Think out-of-the-box. Even if this goes off of your original business model a bit, the fact that your business will continue to generate revenue is what matters.
4. Create Strategic Partnerships
Strategic partnerships impact revenue. Creating beneficial alliances can help you reach new markets to grow your customer base, offer new services, and improve customer experiences. It is well known that partnerships impact growth, in fact, 30 percent of IBM’s $86 billion in annual revenue is generated through alliances. Think of companies that offer a complimentary service or product to yours – one that reaches your target market – with whom you can create an alliance with. Contact them to see if they are interested in exploring ways you could work together – leveraging both your networks – to generate new customers for you both.
5. Promote Surprise Pop-Up Sales
Planned and promoted, or announced by surprise, pop-up sales have become all the rage these days, mostly driven by social media posts. The spontaneity of these sales may help keep customers coming back to your business or serving the dual role of keeping your customers regularly visiting your social media channels to find out when you’ll be having another sale—or even better if you’re having one right now.
6. Ramp Up Your Low-Budget Marketing
Are you in your slow season? That’s the perfect time to ramp up your low-budget marketing. Create and promote discounts to your mailing list and social media audience. You may want to initiate a regular newsletter or give a make-over to your current one.
Additionally, invite your customers to provide testimonials that you can highlight on your website, on your social media channels, on your review site profiles, and in-store. And, don’t forget to reward them for doing so. Also, consider coming up with a clever way to engage customers and incorporate their own content (such as selfies at your business) into your marketing.
7. Open an Online Store
If you’re not already selling online, now could be the perfect time to set up an online store – where your customers can purchase your products 24/7, without any adding a lot of overhead. Not only is it a good project for off-peak seasons, but it can also be a way to help increase sales during those times. Look into an affordable, easy-to-use e-commerce solution and get started within weeks. If your business is service-based, you could offer virtual consultations on Zoom and, as we previously mentioned, use Calendly for scheduling.
8. Find a Niche Market Offering
When it comes to ideas for increasing business during a slow period, it may be a matter of finding and serving a niche population of customers. Again, think out-of-the-box! Maybe you own an ice cream or candy shop that typically does the bulk of its business during the summer months when the kids are out of school. When business slows down, maybe you could focus on capturing the hearts of dog owners and work on developing a line of sweet treats for pups. Those new pet lover customers could then, in turn, help keep your business revenue trending up throughout the whole year.
Running your own business? It sure can be lonely, can’t it? It’s crucial that you find a network of people like you to share ideas and strategies with (are you in a group on LinkedIn that is similar to your business’ industry?). And who knows what new potential revenue sources could come from those interactions, right?
As crazy as it sounds, remember this: A slow period for your business can actually be a good thing for your sales team. You can use this time to grow better and strategize ways to increase your revenue in the future by creating a sales plan, supported by technology, which the Ad Victoriam team can help you with. Time is money, so, don’t wait! Let’s connect today! Fill out the quick form below or click here!