As a business manager or executive team leader, discovering that sales are down can mean a number of things. It can mean potential customers are not reaching you; it can mean existing customers are moving away from your products; or it can mean you have incorrectly let the world know about what you offer and its value. Really it is because someone took their eye off the business metrics, meaning YOU!
I’ve seen companies react to “sales revenues down” syndrome in a number of ways, usually out of reaction and not enough understanding. That approach can cause a company to increase the proverbial swirl down the drain. It is important to really understand the situation in detail. Let’s discuss a few signs and remediation approaches.
Watch for the signs, they’re not new…
First, realize that this situation did not just happen one day. It was preceded by warning signs. Investigate the revenue path! When did the current trend begin? I have found that most “oh my goodness revenues are down…” trends actually began 3-6 months before it is acknowledged. Yes, 3-6 months is not uncommon due to many factors.
Financial Reporting – Is your’s inadequate?
One of the most common factors is financial reporting being done after the fact or after the month or quarter in some cases. By the time your sales team and management knows of the down trend, you’re already in a hole. Unless there is a great deal of financial buffer available, and even if so, this is an unhealthy and dangerous situation that MUST be addressed. As a business leader you must determine how to know on a daily or at worst a weekly basis how your sales are doing. You need to know units and revenue as both are important. Many low value units do not help finances enough while a small number of high revenue generating units do not spread your market and sustainability. You must determine what is best for your organization in balance.
Advertising online/offline – did you change it?
Another factor is small but important changes to advertising. By advertising, I mean PPC, SEO, link building blog creation, distribution of marketing materials and so on. It is likely that your business yields a significant portion of revenue related to your web presence. That may sound like a bold statement but if you think about it, as a society, we jump to the Internet for most everything. Your presence and image will weigh in highly on your prospective customers as well as current customers.
It is paramount that you stay in the eyes and mind of your prospects and customers. You want to keep your competition envious of your position and perceived results. If your business is in a largely competitive market, you must stay on top of on-line presence and on-line results as it can mean the life and death of your business.
Quality — not your perception but your customer’s….
Finally, so many business do not lend enough attention to the perceived quality of their products. They spend significant funds adding features, adjusting the widgets, changing the face, and generally “putting lipstick on the pig.” It really does not take long for a customer base to smudge off that lipstick and look for more solid benefits; they overlook the features while wanting benefit. It is critical that your senior management review customer complaints, returns, and reviews with an open mind. Those “darn people…” are telling you what someone that is not interesting in your cool office or reputation or stature really belief and experience about your products and services. Determine what is an acceptable return rate and understand why you believe that rate. As a product/service provider, your daily task is to address those perceived product issues.
At TeamAutomation we are called upon frequently to analyze sales trends and recommend remediation and optimization to resolve the “Sales & Revenue Down” syndrome. We can and have helped many.