Summer is great for a lot of things, including long days at the pool or beach, boisterous backyard barbecues, and catching up on all the sunshine you missed over the winter months. What summer is not so great for, unfortunately, is sales.
The reasons for the summer sales slump vary but seem to boil down to the fact that people are more busy enjoying the weather than engaging with businesses. Likewise, your sales team may be equally eager to get out into the sun, and in turn, a bit less invested in their day-to-day tasks.
Maybe you’ve noticed the summer slump yourself. Or maybe you’re dealing with declining sales at a different time of year and for different reasons. Either way, if your sales are down, then you need to be taking specific steps to remedy the situation. There are also things that you should be doing to avoid slumps entirely and keep your sales on pace regardless of what’s going on around you.
Here are eight things that you can do to prevent declining sales and to help ensure you’re doing everything you can to meet or exceed your goals.
1. Understand Why Sales Slumps Happen
We’ve mentioned one type of dreaded sales slump, but summer trends aren’t the only thing that may be at play when you start to see your sales dip.
There are lots of different attributable reasons why your sales might be going down, and in order to remedy them, you need to be able to pinpoint what they are. Some possible explanations in addition to seasonal trends include poor team morale or a lack of team talent or incentives. It’s also possible that you’re not targeting the right customer base or that your sales and marketing objectives are too narrow — or too broad.
Whatever the reason, it’s imperative that you put on your detective hat and get to work identifying them. The sooner you can understand the roots of your declining sales problem, the sooner you’ll be able to take steps to fix them.
2. Create a Happier Workforce
Happy employees don’t just contribute to a more positive workplace culture — they also contribute to driving more sales.
A happy and engaged workforce just might be the single biggest advantage your business can get in today’s economy. A study out of Yale University found that happy salespeople make more sales, upsell more often, and lead to more satisfied customers.
So how do you create a happier workforce? It starts with ensuring that your team members feel valued, which includes everything from offering attractive compensation and benefits packages to promoting a better work-life balance. The more that you can improve sales team satisfaction, the more benefits that you should see in daily productivity and overall sales.
3. Set Clear and Achievable Goals
All businesses want to sell as much as possible, but that’s not a very clear directive to give your team. Instead of just telling everyone to aim for the stars and leaving it at that, make sure to lay out very clear and realistic goals that your sales reps can strive for.
What these goals look like will be unique to your company. Base them on past performance and actual data, keeping in mind that if a majority of your team is unable to meet your expectations, then it’s almost certainly the goals, and not the individuals themselves, that are to blame.
4. Set Out Incentives
Just as crucial as setting achievable goals is recognizing and rewarding team members when they reach them.
One way to do this is to offer a tiered commission structure where the further a rep exceeds their goal, the more their commission rate increases. Bonuses and perks for exceptional performance can also go a long way — as does actually calling out and recognizing those sales reps and teams that go above and beyond.
Incentives do more than just give your employees a carrot to chase after. By recognizing and celebrating hard work, you show that you value your team members and all that they do for you. This helps create that happier workforce we mentioned earlier and also goes a long way toward ensuring your staff feels valued.
5. Invest in Training
You can’t expect a poorly trained sales staff to be at their most effective.
The onus is on management to organize and encourage proper training protocols. Failure to do so means that you have a workforce that likely isn’t on the same page in terms of what you’re trying to achieve and how you intend to achieve it.
An employee handbook is not enough. Make sure that you’re facilitating impactful training practices starting with onboarding and continue to offer new ways for your team to learn and grow together. Not only does this keep everyone briefed on how to best do their jobs, but it also provides management with an opportunity to regularly take the pulse of their employees and hone in on any areas where dissatisfaction or a lack of guidance is standing in the way of optimal sales.
6. Optimize Your Marketing Strategy
Sales and marketing are inextricably linked, with failures in one department often speaking to failures in the other. And while it’s definitely unfair to put all of the blame on marketing if your sales are on a downhill trend, it is possible that the marketing tactics currently being used are missing the mark — and that fixing them could have a positive impact.
You don’t need to overhaul your marketing plan entirely to see better results, but you do need to focus on being more strategic with it. Look at your marketing data and analytics to see where the gaps might be, and undertake important tactics such as reworking your customer personas, organically growing your email contact list, and upping the ante of your re-engagement campaigns.
7. Re-evaluate Your Audience
It’s possible that declining sales are a result of a misunderstood audience pool.
While all companies have a desired customer base, the actual people who buy your product may or may not align with this vision. In order to maintain and increase sales, it’s essential that you know exactly who you’re selling to, including not just their demographics but their preferences and pain points.
Re-evaluating your audience is about research. You want to really dive into the details of what makes your core customer group so that you can be sure you’re not just reaching out to the right people but reaching out in a way that is going to be most effective for sales.
To start, take a look at your current customers and their similarities. And while you’re at it, make a point of monitoring common sales hurdles. Chances are that there are pretty standard reasons across the board the deals aren’t closing and that the opposite is true of the deals that do go through.
8. Stay Positive
Sometimes it can be your outlook standing in the way of making a less than desirable situation better. Perhaps the best tip that we can give if you’re facing declining sales is to stay positive and keep your head in the game. Giving up and assuming that things can’t get any better than they are is a surefire way to guarantee that that’s the case. Meanwhile, if you continue chugging along with what you’re doing while also looking for specific problems and resolutions, there’s a huge likelihood you’ll overcome the downward trend.
Success isn’t a passive endeavor. Nor is it always promised to you. By accepting that slumps happen — and working through them when they do — you give your business the best chance at rebounding your sales and seeing brighter days ahead.
Take Action on Declining Sales
If you start to see your sales drop, it’s a warning sign that something is amiss. Be sure to keep a close eye on the data so that you’re always well apprised of dips as soon as they happen and so that you can take action right away. In many cases, your sales are due to outside forces and will bounce back on their own. And if that’s not the case, immediate action means that you can avoid the worst — and get your sales back on track as soon as possible.
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