How to beat a sales slump

By Julian Harlow

Here are four ways to help you beat a sales slump.

All enterprises face periods of slow business and lacklustre revenue, with those relying on sales teams likely to experience greater ups and downs than most. While these may reflect changes that occur each year or economic cycle, and are a normal part of business life, this does not help your business survive if the slump continues longer than expected and you have not made changes to address the fall in revenue. Here are four ways to help you beat a sales slump.

Get your books in order

During a downturn, the value of having a thorough understanding of your enterprise's finances comes to the fore. Look at business settings that are more appropriate for lower sales levels. For example, what is the value of your inventory, and could cash be freed up by reducing stock levels?

Also, don't fall into the trap of telling yourself that going into the red is okay because the coming recovery will make up for it. That recovery may be further off than you think, and your staff and suppliers are unlikely to share such a laid-back attitude if you are unable to pay them.

Alternative ways to boost revenue

Improving revenue may sound obvious, but it should remind you that measures taken to boost sales during a slump will differ from those used in boom times. During a period of slow business, strategies such as price cuts can harm revenue, even if they lead to more customers through the door. Alternative options such as social media marketing can be inexpensive but require time and effort, which you may be in a better position to provide during a slump.

Take care with cuts

Reducing costs requires care. Cuts should be made not just while considering the business's current situation, but also while considering how those cuts will affect the enterprise when sales start climbing again. Reducing staff numbers may be inescapable during an extended slump, but you should consider the value of the training, knowledge and experience that will walk out the door before taking such a step.

Rejuvenate your employees

Additional time available during a slowdown can be used to encourage staff to take holidays, undertake training to improve skills or for the myriad other chores that are never quite urgent enough during a busy period. These tasks may seem like optional extras during a slump, but their impact on a sales team's motivation can provide an edge in the competition for customers during a lean period.

While the overall goal of your business during a slump is of course to survive, with thought you can also set up your business so that it is prepared to make the most of the recovery - whenever it finally turns up.


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