Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Are Your Sales Stuck In A Rut?

If you have a unique product, excellent customer service and visions for expansion, you're off to a good start.  However, if you're having trouble achieving sales growth and your numbers have stalled, it may be time to re-evaluate your situation.  Every business has room for improvement, but many get stuck in a rut. 

Consider these three common problems:

Under-Developed Brand.  This is a very common pitfall for both newer and mature businesses.  Many companies think that once they have come up with the perfect product and eye-catching logo, they are done with their branding.  However, if you look at some of the most successful businesses like Starbucks, Apple or Microsoft, they all have a common thread: Their brand distinguishes them.  While these companies are now industry behemoths, it's important to remember they weren't always the giants they've become.  They created a culture that was centered on their product and associated their brand with things that matter most to their targeted audience.

The solution to your problem is two-fold.  First, you need to decide on your target audience. Rather than trying to appeal to everyone, focus on the audience that would benefit most from your products.  Once you've determined you targeted demographic, you can begin by crafting your brand. Find out what matters most to these prospects and figure out why they would benefit from your products.  Doing this can dramatically increase the perceived value and demand for your products.

Inefficient or Impractical Business Processes.  As you business has grown, so does the complexity of your business operations and the data  you need to track.  In the beginning, it may have been okay to keep paper ledgers or handle data with Excel spreadsheets, or to use Outlook for all customer relations, or to use a white board or paper lists to keep track of inventory.  But if you don't automate routine and detailed tasks once business grows, you limit your growth and profitability.

Industry publications and articles about apps and productivity can help you find tools to automate and/or simplify many business processes.  If you don't have much of a budget for software solutions, search Google, etc. for terms such as "low cost project management software".  Ask other business people in your network about productivity solutions they use.

Lack of Realistic Short-Term and Long-Term Goals.  Every business is born from a grand vision.  All owners start their companies with dreams of long-term success, but unfortunately, these dreams are not always enough to sustain continued growth.  A common problem that owners run into is a lack of specific planning.  In order to experience continued progress and expansion, you need short-term as well as long-term ideas to achieve success.

The best solution for this is to step back and write down long-term goals for your business.  Once you have a concrete list, prioritize these goals by deciding which ones need to be accomplished first.  You can then use your long-term goals as an outline for determining short-term goals.  For each long-term goal, you will need several steps to reach it. Those steps will be your short-term goals.  For both long and short-term goal setting, you may want to practice SMAC.  When setting objectives, they should be SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE and COMPATIBLE.  That is, all goals should be agreed upon by all parties involved in the process.

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To share common sense lessons learned with 40-plus years experience in marketing, sales and as a B2B publisher.