By Kristen Vanstrom
If your industry is seasonal or fluctuates based on demand, you will have occasional dips in sales. Although this is not ideal, it’s expected. How can you cope with this fluctuation? Round up the troops, and talk about why sales are struggling by asking the five following questions. Also, always be transparent, and during your conversation, look for immediate and actionable solutions.
1. How far were we from meeting our goals?
Were you short by just a few hundred dollars? Or are you thousands of dollars behind? First, let me start off by saying, no decrease in revenue is a good thing, but in business, it’s bound to happen. How you react moving forward will depend on the severity of the fluctuation.
Before getting too deep into action-based solutions, decide on the urgency of this matter. Was it a normal fluctuation, or did something go terribly wrong? By answering this question first, you have a better idea of how to proceed.
2. What made us miss the mark?
Did the website go down? Was it a holiday weekend? These factors are a bit more outside your control. But, if you lost a customer because you failed to uphold your end of the bargain, that was preventable.
At the end of a bad sales week, encourage your team to do a little self-reflection. What could they have done better to prevent this decrease in revenue? Ask everyone to answer honestly. Remember, this isn’t about reprimanding; you don’t want to pit employees against one another.
3. Were these factors within our control?
Some things fall outside your control. But, don’t be afraid to admit when you could have made changes or done better. Recognize these circumstances and ask yourself, “How can I prevent this from happening again?” If there is something you could have done better, move on to the next question. Chances are, there’s always something you’ll find that you could have fixed.
4. How can we prevent this decrease from happening again?
Is there something you could have done to prevent this problem from happening? If so, how can you turn this into an action item for the future? Sometimes, a decline in business isn’t any one person’s fault, but if the culmination of a few lax behaviors contributed to this drop, they need to be addressed.
For example, if one of your sales guys is regularly skipping out on scheduled meetings, this is an issue that must be addressed immediately. Avoid group confrontation; instead, pull this individual aside and have a one-on-one discussion about priorities and time management.
5. What can we do, outside of prevention, that will add to revenue?
Besides prevention, what new revenue streams can you explore? If you focus on adding new traffic, this may make up for fluctuation from sources.
For example, let’s say you own an online clothing store. Your organic traffic decreased by 10 percent over the past month, which caused you to lose out on $100 a day in sales. While you’re looking for a resolution, you can also invest in something like Facebook PPC. If this traffic source gives a good ROI, you can scale your budget, and make up for dips in revenue.
Improve Your Sales: It’s Up to You
There’s nothing like hosting a think tank that sparks better sales results. It holds people accountable, and makes forward momentum a realistic expectation.