No matter what niche you are in, no matter what kind of product you sell… you will eventually experience a time when sales are slow or stalled. ALL businesses have slow times. Just like all businesses have busy times!
One of our goals here at Merriweather is to empower you to weather storms, deal with challenges and make progress even when things feel hard and I am hoping this episode does help you feel more informed and empowered.
First steps when sales slow down
Remind yourself, it’s normal, and it happens.
Next, consider this a bit of a gift. We are all continually trying to find time for things, aren’t we? I think most people are looking for some extra time on most days. Consider a slow spell, an opportunity to catch up on something that’s been lingering, or a chance to explore something new that’s been on your list.
You might have tasks that have moved from one month’s to-do list to the next several times already. Get those things done! Take the time and make it useful to you. Anticipate that things will not stay slow forever and prepare for things to pick back up.
Questions for slow or sluggish sales
I know that telling yourself it’s normal, and looking on the bright side won’t always make your worries about it go away. Likely, that will not be enough, which is why we have a list of questions you can ask yourself if sales are slow or stalled in your handmade business.
Are you explicit in your offer or are you overwhelming people?
Think about the experience people have with you. What does someone see and experience when someone stumbles upon you randomly (something you are actively putting yourself up for if you use social media). It is essential to consider how your profile and shop look and feel to someone who hasn’t followed you for a while.
The way your social media or email correspondence connects to your shop is also worth considering. Is it easy to find your shop from your social? Is your shop or website overwhelming? Is there cohesion, and is it evident and explicit what you do? It’s imperative to consider an outsider’s point of view. Imagine you have no context or background info whatsoever: is it apparent what you do and how people can engage with it?
Are your processing times realistic?
It’s okay to have long or short processing times. What matters is that they are current and accurate and also that they make sense to the customer. If they are long, is it clear WHY that is the case? This plays into taking a look at your business as an outsider would. Do your processing times make sense in the context your shop has provided?
Are you attracting new customers?
Likely, you are already trying to attract new customers daily. However, is it working? Is what you are doing to attract new customers working? Has it ever worked? Has it ever worked well enough to justify your effort? If not, what can you do now? What can you try next?
Do your existing customers have a reason to come back and shop with you again?
The answers to this question will vary by person and by the business that person runs. But it’s essential to think, ‘what else is there for this person?’ Some people sell items that are one and done, but that doesn’t mean your existing customers can’t re-engage in some way.
Get creative here. Most of us sell items that people will buy more than once, either for themselves or as gifts. For example, if you sell jewelry, someone could love your design style and purchase multiple items. If you sell a consumable like soap, you already know people will return to rebuy if they like the product.
If your work doesn’t have an obvious rebuy, think outside the box here. This is where having a solid community of peers that understands your business and product can be helpful. If you are a council member listening to this and need help answering these questions, post to the group so we can help! If you aren’t a council member, consider joining us!
Have you communicated the full value of your product?
Recently? Periods when sales are slow or stalled are great for reviewing your communications. Please review my manifesto here on expressing the value of your work. This is essential. No matter what price point you sell at, no matter what niche you’re in, you need to express the full value of your work continually. There should always be a ‘recent’ instance of you communicating value. What’s in it for the customer? What can your product do to improve their life? How can it make their situation better? How is it different?
Is it easy to buy?
Take a look at your buying process from the customer POV. Is it HARD? Sometimes we don’t realize. If there are too many clicks, too many options, too many selections, people freeze up. Streamline and make it easy for people to process orders.
Are you feeling drained by your work or excited? Can people tell?
Emotional vibes speak so much louder than words!! Maybe you ARE really excited about your work right now but you’re not letting that come through. Likewise, perhaps you feel drained and uninspired and generally blah about things, and that’s coming through in your communication.
It’s important to ask these questions all the time, even when things are going well, but especially when sales are slow or stalled. Sometimes there is no answer, and there are things outside of your control, but evaluating these items will never hurt you! And you might have clarity immediately within reach – and that alone is huge in maintaining a business — if you are feeling discouraged and sad about things, that will tank you.
Anything you can do to feel proactive and productive and get yourself feeling a bit better during a slow spell or tough time is a huge asset. Listen back to this episode and take some notes so you’ll be prepared for next time.