How to Break Out of a Sales Plateau
July 19, 2018
Your business has a solid marketing plan. You are a great salesperson yourself, have great outside sales reps, and/or super inside sales assistants. From customer feedback, you know your customer service and follow-up techniques are good. They certainly equal, if not exceed, the competition. Your business gets rave reviews on your website and different social media sites on the products or services it sells. With all these good things going for your business, you have to ask, “Why are sales numbers flat?” With the length of time your business has been in existence, this is not what should be happening? In this stage of your business’ life cycle, the future should be more optimistic than it is.
So, how do you get the numbers to start moving again in an upward direction after the sales graph begins to flatten out?
Customize Sales Efforts
Sales efforts certainly have to be broad enough to appeal to the general target market, but sometimes those efforts have to be customized to land a specific customer. Depending on the business and the potential size of a new order, the standard sales process might need tweaking.
If your business has been trying to close a potential customer without making positive inroads, this might be the time to change the normal sales efforts and develop a new, innovative approach to win over a specific customer when warranted. Start brainstorming on ways to turn the tough prospect into a profitable customer. If you’re the salesperson, think of unique approaches. Ask employees for their opinion. If your business has a sales team, gather everyone together for a group brainstorming session. Just one new idea or positive thought can create a new sale leading to forward momentum that helps bring the business out of a sales plateau and excite everyone on board.
Change the Closer
Review how sales are actually closed at your business. What is the closing percentage? Could it be better? Many times, the price is right, the product or service is exactly what the customer needs, the sales pitch is on target, but the closer is wrong. If this is the case, consider getting someone else involved in addition to the original salesperson to get fresh ideas on how to close the sale and, hopefully, "seal the deal." If you’re the salesperson, think about bringing in someone else to assist...maybe a technical expert in your business or an experienced salesperson handling other accounts. If someone is working with the prospect, maybe you (the owner) needs to lend a helping hand. Customers are often impressed when owners or senior level people get involved as it demonstrates the prospect’s importance to the business.
Keep the Concentration
Maybe the sales pitch is right, closers are good, but everyone is too busy handling other day-to-day functions in a small business or SME that keep them from concentrating on this important business function. Selling is both an art and a science. It must be handled properly to be most effective. Distractions must be held to a minimum while concentration must be at the highest level. Periodically, the entire sales cycle should be reviewed for change. Just like other business functions, nothing remains the same or should remain the same. Customers, competition, products, services, and employees are constantly in some form of flux. Without periodic review, the sales process may start to lag. A current review, therefore, keeps the process current. If additional expenses have to be incurred, simply determine how much additional profit can be added to the bottom line after the change (additional sales less additional costs) to evaluate if the proposed change or changes are worthwhile.
Why keep the sales process the same achieving the same results? Sometimes, it only takes small tweaks in the sales strategy to get out of a plateau.