Question: Discuss a recent time your business faced a sales slump. What went wrong, and how did you handle it? What is your best piece of advice for readers encountering a similar scenario?
"In our business (B2B photography), January and August are when we always experience a significant drop in business, and with salaried employees, you feel it. The best thing to do to prepare for these downturns is to keep some cash in the coffers and use these downturns to spot seasonal trends in the business so as to adjust your marketing or promotional campaigns accordingly."
Know the Length of Your Sales Cycle
"After having a baby recently, I took a few months of maternity leave. This essentially put business development efforts on hold, and sales were sluggish for a couple of months. Upon my return, I picked up business development conversations immediately. Knowing the length of my sales cycle, I was able to predict when that effort would turn into new clients, which allowed me to be more patient."
Lock Down Your Business Development Process
"Our SEO agency grew organically for the first three years, and then we had to figure out business development after losing a large client due to circumstances outside our control. We focused on generating new business from SEO (search engine optimization), pay-per-click advertising, email marketing and social media. We have fully recovered and now have biz dev channels fueling ongoing company growth."
Find a Niche
"My business is a tutoring company, so business is seasonal. Last year, my competitors created a huge advertising campaign that took business away from me, and I almost closed my business as a result. In response, I decided to move to a different niche that would allow me to avoid the big competitors yet gain a sizeable market share. I would suggest for businesses to find a niche."
Ask for More Work and Referrals
"We had an issue last year with gaining new clients, so we started asking our current clients for more work and if they could refer us to anyone. That helped a little because we had prepared for the slump from previous experience. Knowing we will lose 20 percent of our business from the year before, running the numbers and triple checking them has been a tremendous advantage in planning for the future."
Revisit Old Ways
"When you achieve a certain level of success and are poised for expansion, a natural reaction is to assume that success automatically begets more success and that you no longer need the 'old ways' that led you to where you are today. If you choose to re-invent, don't forget to revisit the path that got you here. Grow from what you know."