When sales are down, there are several ways to bring customers in the door and start improving your cash flow. Strategic sales planning can help you turn around performance by focusing on immediate actions and setting the stage for sustainable growth in the future.
Here are a few strategic sales strategies to help get over a slowdown and lay the foundation for stronger months ahead.
Be Smart About Sales and Promotions
Customers love a bargain, but it's important not to reflexively slash prices whenever cash flow lags. Instead of inventory-wide sales or generous discounts, offer slight deals on your most popular or unique items to get people in the door. Cluster related items together in a slightly discounted package deal — such as selling a trio of picture frames as a sensibly priced set.
Host a Seasonal Event
Find a seasonal tie-in to get people in the door. July 4th, back to school, the winter holidays, Valentine's Day and more can all provide the hook to host an event that gets customers energized and motivated to spend. Think about the natural inflection points during your slow quarters and create excitement around them.
Invest in a Marketing Blitz
If your marketing efforts have been sporadic or on the back burner, it's time to invest. Look at making use of a variety of channels, including reaching out to your email list, mailing out newsletters and fliers, buying advertisements, posting signs and working social media. Get your brand front and center with consumers and remind them why they should come through your door.
Don't Overlook Loyalty
Consider offering a special deal to your most loyal customers. A loyalty program encourages buyers to build a relationship with you and make you a preferred vendor. Offer exclusive discounts, merchandise and personalized support to sweeten the deal.
Use Slow Periods Strategically
Use the time you have during slow periods to set the stage for future success. When did you last update your customer database or conduct a full inventory check? Now is an excellent time for finding ways to run your business more cost-effectively, and to refine your offerings or come up with something new. When business picks up, you'll be better positioned to ring up more sales and forge stronger bonds with your customers.
Invest in Training
Training your team on selling techniques can have an immediate payoff, as well as compounding benefits. Assess your team's sales abilities when customers call or walk into your store. A training course, books or coaching can be affordable investments that yield big returns.
Automate Your Marketing Operations
Create a regular calendar for digital marketing, and know in advance when you're going to print custom holiday flyers, for example. It's easy for business owners to get too busy, but having a clear marketing plan can keep momentum going and stave off a slump.
Look for Trends and Plan Ahead
Look at your sales history. When you can track what sells, and when, you can better plan your marketing campaigns, promotions, events and cost-saving measures. Dive into your records to see what patterns emerge; if you don't do a great job of tracking your data, now's the time to start. Once you have a clear view of your business's trends, you can map the coming months to use every up and down to its greatest advantage.
If sales are down, never fear. Use a mix of long-term and short-term sales strategies to sustain a healthy cash flow throughout the year.