The Reason Why for Your Slow Sales – You Only Coast When You Are Going Down Hill
Mark Hale ‐ June 26, 2014
The question is: Are your flat or slow sales good? You will probably agree that up sales are better than flat or down sales. But how bad is it to have flat or slow sales?
The rule of thumb here is you only coast when you are going down hill! Often by the time you get to the bottom of the hill and notice how fast you are moving, usually it’s too late.
In business nothing stays the same. Everyday your business is either getting better by a little bit or it is getting worse. It may be getting worse ever so slightly. One might be tempted to say, “Well at least its flat, it could be worse.” You may not be able to see the decline, but nothing in this universe stays flat or levels off for too long. The halls of bankruptcy court are lined with the fallen of businesses who thought flat or “down a little bit” was okay.
The flat sales state is the most dangerous of all states a business could be in because it is the state that is easiest to be reasonable about. A few months will pass and what was once a .1% or 2% monthly decrease, 10 months later is now a 10 or 20% decrease in sales volume.
We do surveys with business owners and managers to find out business conditions and uncover how we can help them. To date, we have completed marketing surveys with over 1000 businesses across 20 different business categories.
One of the questions on the survey is “How has business going?” The responses range from great to flat to very slow.
The people who are in the slow, flat or unchanged condition are the most interesting to me. They usually are very nonchalant about sales being flat. Their attitude is that it’s no big deal or it could be worse. Yeah, it could and will get worse if they do not do something to handle it.
How do you handle a month or week when sales are flat?
Well you should look at flat sales as an EMERGENCY situation and take steps to handle it.
- Rule #1: you cannot handle slow sales by cutting back your advertising. You have to get the word out and let people know you are there, by promoting. Look at it this way, if you have a small fire in the kitchen, do you wait until the entire house is on fire to take action? NO, you put the fire out now.
The first step to handling slow or flat sales is you have to promote. If you don’t promote as your first action the situation will turn dangerous and you will have to take drastic actions—you know like lay people of, cut expenses or close locations.
To put out a fire, you direct a stream of water towards the fire. Promotion is like water and you direct it outward towards a target.
By promoting you invite people to do business with you. The more people you invite, the more business will come in. People will not buy a secret and you cannot sell a secret. You have to make yourself known.
You can promote by sending out a direct mail piece; getting on the phone and calling customers; get in your car and go see people; call old customers and see how your product is holding up and if they need anything else. You can even print some flyers and pass them out. Promotion does not have to cost a lot of money, but it does require that you do something.
Direct mail is a great way to target exactly the market you want to hit. There are several forms of direct mail for small business. The simplest form of direct mail is a full color postcard. Depending on your target market, note card mailers, check mailers or a simple sales letter might work best. We can help you select the type of direct mail piece that best suits who your are trying to reach.
Do you feel like your businesses sales are on a roller coaster?
One month sales are good, the next slow, the next month is up a little, then only to crash the following month?
Sales that are roller coastering are almost always caused by sporadic, in consistent or poorly planned and targeted advertising.
- Rule #2: always work to increase the amount of promotion you have going out and tweak the targeting as you go.
We can help you put in an effective advertising and promotional programs for your small business.
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