Buying a business
Declining sales is a problem but the solution may be closer than you think. — Getty Images/Jirapong Manustrong

Every business will have ups and downs in their sales. If you find your business in a sales slump, don’t resign yourself to failure: Now is the time to evaluate your current strategies, shake things up and try something new.

Taking action quickly is the best way to help you reverse your losses and regain profit. Here are five expert-recommended ways to identify and fix your sales issues.

Uncover the root cause

Before you try to increase sales, you have to understand what caused them to decline in the first place.

There are many potential reasons why sales could be down, both internal and external. Sometimes, the market or season could just be bad. However, there may be some internal factors that are hurting your numbers.

“Businesses don’t run on autopilot,” said Mark Kohlenberg, founder and CEO of Moral Code. “Look at your business as if you were a competitor. Find the weak points and immediately correct them.”

Lewis Goldstein, president of Blue Wind Marketing, recommends spending time with your salespeople to begin your internal investigation.

"[Look] into when the problem started happening and what events surrounded it," he said. "It’s important to involve your team so you can get a variety of perspectives. Each person will have a different context to what the cause could’ve been."

It also never hurts to get a fresh set of eyes on your business. An outside perspective can help you spot things you may have missed.

“It sometimes will make sense to bring in … a consultant or coach, to uncover the root cause,” Goldstein said. “They have the ability to ask the right questions and to know what to look for.”

Talk to your customers

Talking to customers who have done business with you before can provide answers as to why sales are going down. Learn why they gave you their business in the first place, and why they are or aren’t coming back.

“Find out what they like and add to it,” said Kohlenberg. “Find out what they don’t like and remove the product or process. There is no better research than talking face to face with your customers and prospects — plus, it's free!”

[Read: 6 Tips for Generating Sales Leads]

Taking action quickly is the best way to help you reverse your losses and regain profit.

Hire new sales people

When products simply aren’t selling, it helps to bring in a sales team who can market and sell them.

“Great salespeople are worth it and can make a major difference on your bottom line,” said Goldstein. “You get what you pay for.”

An excellent sales team can bring in new business and more than make themselves worth the cost. Goldstein also advised looking for people who will be a good cultural fit for your company, so they not only improve sales, but also add to the morale and atmosphere.

Partner with other businesses

Davina Farahi, founder of Shaya, says teaming up with another business can generate sales and expose you to a new type of customer.

“[Choose] a brand that has a similar customer base for a giveaway or to design a special product,” she said. “It’s an easy way to gain exposure to a customer base that is interested in what you are selling.”

Everyone loves getting something free, and giveaways are a great way to attract more eyes on your product and increase your customer awareness.

According to Goldstein, partnering with another business is done by “ethically leveraging all the money, time, energy and effort the other business has put into acquiring the customer.” A collaboration can financially benefit both companies involved and give you a potential future business partner.

Take charge

As a leader, you need to be accountable for declining sales. Kohlenberg cautions against delegating tasks to someone else: “Own your responsibility and meticulously manage the details,” he told CO—.

Once you find a solution, execute quickly.

“Speed is everything” Kohlenberg added. “Every day you wait, you lose another customer and drive them over to a competitor.”

[Read: How to Boost Sales With Biz Dev]

For a business of any size, declining sales is a serious problem. But the solution may not be as far out of reach as you think. If something hasn’t been working, don’t be afraid to try something new or unconventional. It can only teach you more about your sales and what your customers respond to.

“You need to change things up, take risks, have fun [and] experiment,” said Kohlenberg. “Challenge your customer and challenge yourself.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published December 09, 2019