7 ACTIONS TO TAKE WHEN BUSINESS IS SLOW

7 Actions To Kick Start Sales In Your Business

Every entrepreneur goes through periods when business is slow, especially in the early days. Perhaps you’re a start-up struggling to get those first crucial sales. Or your marketing plan does not include enough of the right activities to guarantee a consistent sales pipeline. Or there’s an economic downturn. Or your business is subject to seasonal variations. Or maybe you’ve been so caught up looking after customers that you’ve neglected your regular marketing activities.

What's Your Worst Business Nightmare?

The danger when business is slow is that we get down-hearted, and our anxiety levels rise. Our body’s stress reactions start to kick in triggering either a fight or flight response. A flight response can trigger a downward spiral – partly triggered by our body’s own physiology – where we start to lose confidence and give up hope. This is the time when it’s most important for us to be focused and take consistent action.

If business is slow right now, take a deep breath, read through these 7 actions and then set to work. Then slowly but surely you will start to get momentum back in your business.

1. Review Your Cash Flow Forecast

Cash is the life blood of every business. Without cash, a business can’t operate. Preparing a cash flow forecast and tracking the flow of monies in and out of your business is one of your most important activities. It’s an activity you should do on a weekly basis.

If business is slow, the first thing you want to know is how long you can keep going on the cash you’ve got coming in. If you don’t already monitor your cash flow, won’t take you long to put together a forecast. Probably less than an hour.

A cash flow forecast will tell you (a) whether you’re heading for a cash dip and (b) how serious this is likely to be. It may not make for happy reading, but it will forewarn you of any potential cash flow problems ahead.

My free e-book explains ‘How To Get Off The Cash Flow Roller Coaster, and Take Financial Control Of Your Business.’ ’ It also comes with an easy to use cash flow forecasting template, and instructions on how to use it.

2. Take Immediate Action To Improve Your Cash Flow

This is about cash flow management. First off make sure you’ve billed everybody who owes you money. Then chase up – systematically and consistently – anybody who owes you money.

Next look at which bills are about to fall due, and see if you can stagger them, perhaps by making partial payments or not paying straightaway. If a bill is about to become overdue, buy yourself some extra time. Call the supplier, be honest and explain the situation. Say something like: “I’m really sorry. We’ve had problems collecting some of our receivables. We’re on the case. In the next 30 days, we’ll pay you what we promised you.” Then do it.

Make a special offer or run a flash sale to bring in some extra cash quickly.

3. Set Outcome Goals To The End Of The Quarter

Start with the end in mind. Which 2-3 marketing related projects would, if you worked on them consistently for the rest of the quarter, make the greatest impact on the number of leads in your sales pipeline, your conversion rate and your bottom line?

For example, for some of my clients, Google search is one of the primary ways they get new customers. So for them, a key marketing-related project this quarter is to ensure their website is ranking well on Google.

Those who can afford it, have created a dedicated a budget for SEO, and commissioned an SEO expert to help them to rank on the first page of Google. keywords. In the meanwhile, they’re using Google Adwords to drive traffic to their website and generate new leads.

Those who have a shoestring budget are doing some of that work themselves. They’re making sure that the content they have on their website is well-written and keyword rich. They’re adding new articles to their blog to enrichen their content. They’re asking their customers to review them on Google to improve their local SEO. They’re seeking opportunities to write guest articles for brands they admire to create back links. And they’re making sure their content is well-shared on social media, perhaps using an app like CoSchedule.

This free e-book explains ‘How To Get Off The Cash Flow Roller Coaster, and Take Financial Control Of Your Business.’ ’ It also comes with an easy to use cash flow forecasting template, and instructions on how to use it.

4. Review and Update Your Marketing Plan

When I want to build my sales pipeline quickly, I ask myself 3 key questions:

  • Which are the 2-3 most effective sales and marketing strategies for growing my pipeline and bringing on new customers quickly?
  • How quickly can I expect them to deliver results?
  • What’s the likely ROI of these activities?

It’s essential to know your key sales and marketing metrics. Otherwise how do you know which marketing activity to select over another, or how successful your campaigns are? If you’re new in business, you won’t have historical results to go on so you will be crystal ball gazing to some extent. Be sure to track your results and quickly get to know your key business metrics and check how these compare to the standards of your industry.

Once you’re clear on the 2-3 most effective sales and marketing strategies for growing your pipeline and bringing on new customers quickly, make a list of actions you and your team can take on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Remember the marketing rule of 7 by 3 which says that a potential buyer is highly unlikely to see or hear a marketing message, or to even seriously consider buying, until they’ve been exposed to our message at least seven times. And of our marketing messages, we can expect two of the three to not be seen at all.

5. Take Consistent Daily, Weekly and Monthly Action

This is where it’s so important you know your key business metrics. Every business has certain numbers that reveal trends and the future health of the business. Use these numbers in conjunction with your marketing plan, to help you decide which activities to focus your time on.

If for example, I’d like to take on one new client every month, I know that I must speak to between one and 3 prospects who are interested in business coaching with me every month. (That’s because I know my closing rate, depending on the source of the prospect). Prospects come to me primarily through one of two ways. Referrals and networking. This means that I must dedicate time on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to activities that I know will generate one to three prospects every month.

In my case, I have a ‘Keep In Touch’ strategy to make sure I stay in regular contact with people in my network. From my biweekly newsletter, to daily engagement on social media to arranging Fika (coffee and cake) meetings to catch up to Skype coffee chats to my ‘Business & Bellinis’ get togethers.

I also make time to go to as many networking type events as possible, and ensure I’ve scheduled in time to follow up conversations with people I meet. Networking is a great way to increase the number of people who know me and the services I offer. I can’t control the results i.e. the number of new clients that networking will generate. But I can control my activity. I know that if I attend 4 events each month and talk to (and follow up with) a minimum of 6 new people, that’s 24 new business people I’ve met who now know what I do. Over the course of the year, this means I’ve met a total of 288 new people with whom I have the opportunity to develop and strengthen relationships.

(BTW, if you dread networking, my friend Hilary Robinson has got you covered).

This free e-book explains ‘How To Get Off The Cash Flow Roller Coaster, and Take Financial Control Of Your Business.’ ’ It also comes with an easy to use cash flow forecasting template, and instructions on how to use it.

6. Reach Out To Old and Existing Customers

Our customers are the best advocates for our business, and best placed to introduce you to other new customers. There are a variety of different ways that you can reach out and show your appreciation to both old and existing customers. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Send a thank you card or note;
  • Share an article or resource that you know would be of interest;
  • Make business introductions where it’s appropriate to do so;
  • Send a small gift – a screen saver of a favourite photo is a thoughtful gift from a photographer whilst a set of spa products would be a lovely gift from a bathroom fitter or interior designer on completion of a refurbishment project.

And don’t be shy about asking for a Google or Facebook review.

Notice that I haven’t suggested that you send details of a new product launch or promotion. That’s because this should be part of your ‘sales strategy’ not your ‘customer appreciation’ strategy.

7. Run A Promotion, Special Offer or Flash Sale

Look at what other businesses are doing – and not just in your industry – to get ideas and inspiration for a promotion, special offer or flash sale. Then work out an integrated marketing and PR plan to draw as much attention to it as possible.

Keeping in mind the marketing rule of 7 by 3, brainstorm as many different ways as possible to get the word out about your promotion, special offer or flash sale. From posters to email to social media to Facebook advertising and/ or Google Adwords to a press release or editorial. Then take massive action to make your promotion, special offer or flash sale a success.

In Conclusion

When business is slow, it’s easy to get downhearted. But NOW is the time the time to take massive action to put your business into momentum. If you do, by Spring, you WILL definitely start to see the results of your hard work.

This free e-book explains ‘How To Get Off The Cash Flow Roller Coaster, and Take Financial Control Of Your Business.’ ’ It also comes with an easy to use cash flow forecasting template, and instructions on how to use it.

Join The Conversation

Question: What’s your top tip for boosting your business and filling your sales pipeline when business is slow? I’d love you to leave your feedback in the comments box below.

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About Denyse

Prior to becoming a business consultant and coach, I spent 8 years in the trenches as a CEO having trained at Cranfield School of Management, the UK’s leading business school. With experience in business planning, financial management, risk management, building strategic partnerships, product development, marketing (including PR) plus leading and developing staff teams of up to 150 people, there’s very little I haven’t had to deal with or experienced.

You can find out more about the different ways of working with me HERE. Or book a call to arrange an informal chat over coffee. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of how our services would be a good fit for your business, the results you can expect and how to get started.

My free e-book explains ‘How To Get Off The Cash Flow Roller Coaster, and Take Financial Control Of Your Business.’ ’ It also comes with an easy to use cash flow forecasting template, and instructions on how to use it.

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One thought on “7 ACTIONS TO TAKE WHEN BUSINESS IS SLOW

  1. Simple, yet actionable steps. And you’ve rightly pointed out about networking and reaching out to old and existing customers for your business. Skype coffee chats sounds interesting but don’t really know what that means!