A bad sales month can be extremely discouraging for new businesses or any business for that matter. The reality is that sales will ebb and flow, and your business should be optimally prepared for drops in revenue and potentially have other lines of income to keep yourself fortified in a pinch. Your slumps in sales are ultimately learning opportunities and chances for you and your team to take stock of what has worked and what hasn’t worked when it comes to pushing your sales beyond the goals you’ve set for yourself. Maybe there is a key way you can adjust your sales plan, or set your goals to be more realistic in your reach. Running a successful business means not giving up when things are slow, and being realistic about what you can achieve and in what timeline would be appropriate for a business your size. There is no reason to aim towards goals that older, more established businesses are able to achieve. Businesses that stay in the game by being smart about their goals and sales plans will move up in their industries in no time, it’s all about being patient and realistic with yourself and your team.
Adjust Your Sales Plan
The first thing to do when you run into a bad sales month is to review your sales plan and adjust it accordingly to meet the more realistic expectations for your company. “Rebound from a bad sales month by adjusting your plan,” said Sabrina Pereira, Head of Growth Marketing at Easy Standard. “Go back to your sales plan and review it. Find what you missed from the previous month and recalculate your plan for the next month. This includes identifying the key drivers of your forecast delta and aligning testing plans to solve for that. Plus, you can distribute the shortage over a few months and bolster your sales plans for the next few months.” This is of the utmost importance and should be done as soon as possible after your sales report comes in.
Changing and adjusting your plan is also an opportunity to set more realistic goals for your company for the foreseeable future. If your goals are too high, you may find yourself feeling strained to meet unrealistic expectations. “Review your plan so you can set more realistic goals for the future. Part of being successful is setting yourself up with goals you know you can meet. Then, you can start to aim a little bit higher each month as sales flatten or increase,” said Dylan Fox, Founder and CEO of Assembly AI. Starting small is a key factor for any blossoming business. It sets you and your company up for success and will motivate your team to work towards setting higher and higher goals.
In addition to adjusting your sales plan, businesses should also take stock of what they can control and what they can’t. You can draw people in, but they make the final decision to buy in or not. “Be real and honest about the things that you can control rather than the things you can’t. For instance, you can control your brand’s outreach and marketing practices but you can’t ultimately control whether customers will choose your service. Simplify your website content and make it as easy as possible for customers to sign up for your service to increase your sales,” said Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical.
Learn From Failure and Go For Smaller Deals
In the grand scope of things in business, setbacks and sales slumps should be seen more as opportunities rather than failures. “Try not to look at sales slumps as failures, they are in fact learning opportunities for the future. Many times, these slumps are due to conditions that may be vastly out of our control. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about your industry and market trends to help predict your sales in the future,” said James Ville, Chief Product Officer of GunSkins. If you can shift your perspective and see the value in scaling back your goals to meet your capability, you’ll set yourself up for a more positive approach to solving these problems.
You may find that the deals you were seeking might have been too ambitious for your company as it currently exists. Smaller deals help you build connections and expand your business network. “Sometimes a bad sales month can be an indication that you need to scale back your goals and look for smaller deals you can make to help fortify your business and set yourself up for success,” said Scott Sonneborn, Co-Founder of Tydo. “Aiming too high can result in a lower return. It’s true that the higher the risk the greater the reward is, but the opposite is also true. The fallbacks from big deals can be much larger as well.” The amount of risk you can take on depends on the age of your company and your history of success with smaller deals and goals.
Meet With Your Team
Consult your entire team as soon as possible following your low sales results. “Have a team meeting immediately afterward to brainstorm ideas. Keep the meeting as upbeat as possible,” said Jean Gregoire Founder & CEO of Lovebox. “It’s best to not dwell on why your month was poor, but instead, focus on ways to improve the following month. By working as a team, you’ll have a better chance of coming up with fresh ideas that will propel you forward.” This will promote a solution-based attitude at your company rather than getting stuck in a slump after getting bad news. “You need to keep your team positive to make sure you keep your productivity up,” said CEO of Package Free Shop Lauren Singer. “Positive reinforcement is especially important during these moments when tensions may be high and emotions fragile. Focus on what went well rather than what didn’t. This will help you combat future issues.” Seeing the positive can be difficult, but it’s always going to lead your team to better results than focusing on the negatives. “It can be difficult to see the positives in a month that fell short, but being able to see what was working will help you and your team both recover and make a plan for the next month. Don’t just focus on why your sales were lower, focus on what made the sales happen that you did make,” said Kashish Gupta, Founder and CEO of Hightouch.
This also gives your team a chance to provide feedback and be honest about how they think things could improve. “Ask for feedback from your team, and encourage honesty,” said Ryan Rottman Co-Founder & CEO OSDB. “Your employees and sales team will likely have proactive and topical ideas about how to improve customer relationships and increase your rate of conversion. Don’t dwell and try to solve issues on your own, involve your team to help you come to the best solution.” This will show how valuable you find your employee’s opinions and create trust between management and the sales team that they can solve issues together.
Plan For Slow Months
Part of changing your business plan should be expecting that some months will be slow. At certain times of the year, the state of the economy and many other factors can go into sales spikes and slumps. “Any business is sure to experience highs and lows, try to see these challenges as positives, it means that you are in business and doing everything you can to stay afloat. Trust your instincts and learn from the challenges you face,” said Jared Hines, Head of Operations Acre Gold. Holiday sales spikes and post-holiday slumps are something that all businesses should be expecting as well. “Certain times of the year will yield higher sales results, such as the winter months,” said Katie Keirnan, Co-Founder of Nue Life. “People are buying more for holiday gifts and it makes sense to see a sales spike during this time.
Use these moments as opportunities to prepare for inevitable sales slumps at the start of the new year.” Your surges in sales should help to fortify you through the slower months of the year, something that businesses should be folding into their business plan. “Use your spikes and slumps as ways to predict the cash flow in your company,” said Joe Thomas of Loom. “This way, you can use additional funds from those surges to keep your business operating smoothly when things slow down.”
Rebounding from a bad sales month relies on a solution-minded team with management that can see the benefits in the ebb and flow of sales. This is ultimately an inevitability that every business faces, and how you deal with it will define how your company succeeds in the future. If you can’t be flexible and change up your plan, you will likely fall short of your competitors in the long run. Adjust your plan, meet with your team and plan for the future to ensure your success in your industry.