Reading time ( words)
So. your sales are down now. Your numbers are in the gutter and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get anything going.
You’re beating on your outside sales team and they are doing everything they can with their customer base. Or worse yet, you don’t even have an outside sales team. Don’t laugh; many companies don’t. They rely only on word of mouth. They feel that good enough has been good enough so far and that things will come around, just like they have come around every other time in the past.
But alas, this time it’s different; this slump has been going on for months and now you are entering the panic mode. You have to do something.
The problem is that you have to do it now. If something doesn’t change soon, you are going to have to close up shop and that is something you just don’t want to face.
You are really behind the eight-ball. Most well-organized sales initiatives take about 90 days to get going, and at least 120 days before you start seeing results. You should have started doing this months ago; hell, you should have been doing this all along, nut that’s another story, a lecture for another day.
So now you have to do something to make something happen…it’s not rocket science. But it is a fact. Do something and do it now!
If you’re going to do something, at least have some sort of plan that will stand a chance of getting some sales in the shop before it closes.
Your Emergency Sales Plan
This is an emergency plan for increasing sales right away. The most important thing you can do at this time is to try to get sales as quickly as possible. Create a sense of urgency…not panic, but urgency. Let your team know that their jobs depend on getting sales into the house now!
For this effort, you will need to get all hands on deck. You will have to push your inside sales people and then recruit from other departments. Put anyone who can handle a phone on the phone and do it now!
Part One: Use your current database (how good is your database right now?) Try to contact as many customers and potential customers as possible.
- You need to go through and evaluate this list immediately.
- If they are nearby, they need to be visited to see what they have going and to see if we can do anything for them.
- If they have not ordered in a while, ask them why not. Ask them if there is something you can do to get going with some orders again.
- You need to discuss with customers how they are doing.
- Go over the orders you have in-house and ask these customers if they have anything else you can work on.
- Review your finished goods list with them and try to sell the boards that you have in stock.
- Work with them to help you help them.
- And sell them on buying from you right now. Tell them you are willing to make a deal they cannot refuse.
Part Two: Orphans, the customers you used to do business with. They are the next group to contact.
- Why did they leave?
- Do they have business now?
- Make a priority list of these and start contacting them immediately.
- This group is very important. They know you and they once did business with you. They need to be contacted. This is what we call the “low-hanging fruit.”
Part Three: New potential customers. These have to be customers where you feel you are close to getting something from them. Of course, you also have to work on the long term, but for the sake of this plan you need to go after customers who may want to send you business in the very near future.
Part Four: Measure your way to success: This is important: you need to keep track of all the sales calls you make. You need to put together some sort of plan with goals, like knowing how many customers you want to talk to in a day. You should be measuring the following:
- Number of calls made each day.
- What the customer said.
- Any actions required.
- What is the next step?
This is best done using an Excel spreadsheet. Review it every day to make sure that things are happening and progress is being made. This is hard work, but it works. You have to make something happen.
Part Five: Do some guerilla marketing:
- Create a pitch: Find a reason why customers would want to come to you. Free tooling, great price, whatever, and some kind of promotion.
- Permission marketing: Take a good look at your database, sort it out and then from there you can develop a permission marketing plan. You can choose from one, some, or all of these methods of reaching out to customers:
- Postcards (yes, believe it or not, that are back and they work in this e-mail world)
- Fax. When is the last time you tried this? Imagine getting a fax sales offer today!
- Direct letters. Who can resist opening a letter. Especially if the address is hand-written. No labels please.
You need to be sending these out every two weeks, like clockwork. The most important thing is to get in touch with as many customers and potential customers as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Now, come closer, and listen up. Here is the real secret about increasing your sales. If you do something, something will happen. As I said, this is not rocket science. It’s only common sense.