“If you build it he will come” – Field Of Dreams
Many start-ups go into business with believing that as soon as they launch they customers will rolling in and buy.
As many start-ups find out, the reality is very different to the movies. On starting up they suffer from slow sales and are almost immediately under the threat of closure.
Below are the steps you need to take to try and boost sales and get your startup back on track.
1. Analyse Your Business Plan (If you have one)
Take a look at your original plan and find out whether you are doing what you originally intended to do. Comparing actual performance with planned performance is essential to your success. Find out why sales have been slower than expected.
Compare trends in your sales over the period against what was originally planned. Look for the root cause behind the variances and try and re-forecast the rest of the year based on current performance.
Your revised revenue targets must be ambitious but realistic.
2. Analyse Your Marketing
Marketing is a common area of waste for startups, marketing budgets are spent without focussing on the right channels and targeting the right people.
To understand why sales are slow you will need to challenge all of your original assumptions. You must revisit your or Unique Selling Point (USP) and question the need for your business.
You can only get this information from your previous customers and/or your target market.
Interview or survey them ASAP and find out what they value.
Did your previous customers like your product?
- Would they buy again?
- What do they value?
- How much are they willing to pay?
- What do you need to do to make them buy from you?
As part of your analysis, you should assess your target market. Are they even the right people to be targeting? Have your sales come from outside your planned target market?
Now that you understand a lot more about your previous and targeted customers and what they value you should relaunch your marketing campaigns.
Questions to ask yourself
- Are you advertising in the right places, where your target market is most likely to be?
- Are your campaigns focussed on highlighting what your target market value?
- Are you giving them enough incentive to choose your business over the competition?
3. Sales Process
Your marketing may be attracting potential new clients/customers.
If your sales processes are not set up correctly you may be missing out on sales.
Based on what you have learned about your target market can you answer?
- Is your product/service being sold in the right places to maximise chances of success?
- Are you selling your product in a place where your target market can access it?
- Are the right people selling your product?
- Are you offering any incentives to the customer to buy from you?
You should consider increasing the amount to channels your product is available. Try finding new partners or resellers to increase the possibility of sales.
You should also consider providing potential customers with an incentive to purchase. Common incentives are discounts or bundled products like 2-4-1 offers.
Existing customers are far more valuable to a business than prospective customers. You should provide them with more products/services to buy from you.
If your business is a product, then add a service option.
If your business is a service, then find products to sell.
4. Market & Competitive Analysis
Studying what the competition is doing and how successful they are is essential if you want to generate more sales.
Think of ways you can draw your competition’s customers away and attract them to your business
- How much do they charge?
- What are your competitions USP?
- What can you do to differentiate your business from them?
- Is there a new entrant into the market that is redefining it?
- Is there now an alternative in the market that renders your business irrelevant?
You may also want to start gathering more information about your business and its performance. Gather feedback from previous customers, find out how they found out about your business and why they bought your product. Use this information to improve what you do in the future.
5. Build A Better Plan & Start Measuring Everything
Now that you have reviewed performance, marketing and sales, the next stage is to build a better marketing and sales plan. Start thinking about the key metrics that will help you identify exactly where the process is not working and set performance targets.
Launching a start-up is difficult processes, not getting the initial reception from the market is normal and should be factored into your plan as a worst-case scenario. The important thing is not to lose heart, analyse your original assumptions with what has actually happened.
Re-analyse what you offer your customer and where your business is in the market and take positive steps to achieving your goals.