There are many potential reasons why a business may not be making sales. One possible explanation is that the product or service being offered is not meeting the needs or desires of the target audience.
In this case, it may be necessary to conduct market research to better understand the needs and preferences of potential customers, and then make adjustments to the product or service to better align with those needs.
Another possible reason for a lack of sales could be poor marketing or advertising. It’s not enough to simply have a great product or service; it’s also important to effectively communicate its value to potential customers.
If the business’s marketing strategy is not reaching the right audience or is not effectively conveying the product’s benefits, it may be necessary to reevaluate the messaging and approach to marketing and advertising.
There may be issues with the overall visibility of the business, such as a lack of online presence or poor search engine optimization, which could also contribute to a lack of sales.
Reasons your small business is not generating sales
There are many reasons why a small business may struggle to generate sales. One common issue is a lack of visibility, which may be due to a weak online presence or poor marketing strategy.
Another issue could be a lack of differentiation from competitors, meaning that potential customers may not see a clear reason to choose the business over other options.
1. You are marketing, not selling
When you have a networking contact who has already shown interest in your product or service, reaching out to them for a conversation about your offer, pricing, and next steps is considered a sales call. On the other hand, if you are meeting with a networking contact to introduce what you offer or simply to catch up, that is considered a marketing call. Small business owners often get caught up in marketing activities such as social media, website updates, and blog writing, which are important for generating eventual sales, but do not directly lead to immediate revenue.
To address this, it’s important to assess your previous meetings and identify which ones were marketing calls and which ones were sales calls. It’s also important to make sure that you are aiming to close more deals than your desired revenue target since not all sales efforts will result in a successful close. For instance, if you aim to hit £100,000 in revenues and typically close one-third of your sales efforts, you need to pitch £300,000 worth of work. Have you had discussions about £300,000 worth of work in your meetings? Taking an honest look at your approach can help you focus on more direct revenue-generating efforts and ultimately drive more sales for your business.
2. You are targeting the wrong buyer
While it may seem impressive to reach out to a large group of 300 people, it’s important to consider whether all of these individuals are potential buyers for your product or service. In the context of a training business, it may be more effective to focus on following up with a smaller group of 30 people who are HR professionals or business managers in need of the training you offer. By targeting a more specific and relevant audience, you can more efficiently utilize your resources and increase your chances of making sales.
Of course, there may still be individuals within your broader network who are not direct buyers but can still provide valuable referrals. While these interactions can be useful, it’s important to note that they still fall under the category of marketing rather than selling. By focusing on direct sales efforts and targeting those who are most likely to benefit from your product or service, you can maximise your chances of success and grow your business more effectively.
To optimize your sales efforts, it’s important to assess your contact list and prioritize individuals who have expressed a genuine interest in your product or service. It’s important to determine whether your current contact list is a true sales pipeline or simply a collection of people you know in general. By targeting individuals who have a specific need for what you offer, you can focus your sales efforts and improve your chances of success.
Reviewing your contact list and identifying potential buyers is a crucial step in developing an effective sales strategy. It’s important to avoid wasting time and resources on individuals who are unlikely to make a purchase and instead focus on those who are more likely to convert into paying customers. By prioritising those with a need and interest in your product or service, you can create a more streamlined sales process and maximise your revenue potential.
3. The buyer is not the decision-maker
While targeting individuals with a genuine interest in your product or service is a crucial step in the sales process, it’s important to remember that it may not be enough to secure a sale. It’s essential to consider whether the individuals you are targeting have the authority to make a purchasing decision. For example, your friend in HR may be responsible for organizing training, but the actual decision to hire a trainer may rest with a more senior member of the department or another individual altogether. In such cases, your HR friend can still be a valuable contact for recommendations, but you will need to reach the actual decision-maker to close the sale.
To overcome this challenge, it’s important to communicate clearly with interested prospects and confirm what steps need to be taken for a purchase decision to be made. This may include finding out whether your contact needs to consult with other individuals or has budget authority. By gaining a clear understanding of the decision-making process, you can identify the key stakeholders involved and tailor your approach to maximize your chances of success. This can help you to build more effective relationships with your prospects and ultimately close more sales for your business.
4. There is no urgency to buy now
While it’s great to have an interested prospect who has the budget to make a purchase, it’s important to recognize that potential customers may have limited resources such as time, attention, and budget. Therefore, it’s not enough for your offer to simply be of interest to them; it needs to be a priority right now in order to close a sale.
To address this issue, it’s important to understand the specific deadlines and constraints that your prospects are facing during the sales process. By doing so, you can tailor your approach to highlight the urgency of your offer and emphasize why it’s critical to act now. It’s essential to not only communicate the value of your offer but also why it’s important at this moment in time. Creating a sense of urgency in how you make your offer can help you to close more sales and grow your business.
5. There is a better alternative than your business
Although your prospect may have an immediate need for what your business offers, it’s important to keep in mind that they have several options to choose from to fulfill that need. They may consider other businesses that provide similar services, or they may attempt to fulfill the need themselves. For example, a company might try to develop its own training curriculum.
To address this challenge, it’s essential to recognize that your prospects have choices, including the choice to do nothing at all. This is where creating a sense of urgency comes in, as discussed in the previous point. However, it’s also important to highlight why your business is the unique provider of choice. Have you not only sold your offering but also sold yourself as the top solution? By emphasising your unique value proposition, you can differentiate yourself from the competition and position yourself as the best choice for your prospects.
6. There is no reason to switch
Closing a deal can be especially challenging when your prospect already has an alternative solution lined up. In the case of a training business, companies may already be working with other trainers, making it difficult to persuade them to switch to your services. In this situation, you need to overcome the barrier of why they should switch from a known option to an unknown one.
The key to winning over an experienced buyer who has done research or has bought similar services in the past is to make it easy and risk-free for them to switch to your business. This could involve outlining a simple and straightforward process for starting to work with you. Alternatively, you may offer a guarantee or a discount for switching to your services. It’s important to carefully consider and address any concerns or reluctance that your prospect may have to ensure a successful conversion. By doing so, you can ease their transition and position yourself as a more attractive option than their current provider.
7. The timing or circumstances aren’t right
Let’s say you’ve done everything right, actively seeking sales by targeting the right buyers with decision-making authority, and making a convincing case for why they should buy from you. Despite your efforts, prospects may still say No if the timing is not right or if circumstances have changed. For instance, budgets may be frozen due to a drop in revenue, or other projects may take priority.
The solution? Sometimes a No cannot be turned around immediately, and the best course of action is to stay in touch and follow up regularly so that you remain top-of-mind when the timing or circumstances change. Are you reaching out to prospects who have declined? Are you staying in touch with people who may not have been ready before but may be now?
Keep in mind that the reasons mentioned above can cause the sales process to break down, despite your best efforts. Nevertheless, you still need to ensure that you have a good offering and a good grasp of selling. Is your offer competitively priced, does it have helpful features, and clear benefits? Do you know how to sell? Are you confident, articulate, and persuasive?
Effects of low sales in a business
Low sales in a business can have a number of negative effects. The most obvious is reduced revenue, which can lead to financial difficulties and even insolvency if the situation persists. Low sales can also lead to reduced market share, as customers may turn to competitors with better offerings or more compelling marketing.
This can further exacerbate financial difficulties and make it harder for the business to recover. In addition, low sales can impact employee morale, as layoffs or reduced hours may be necessary to cut costs. This can create a cycle of negativity, as remaining employees may feel overworked and disengaged, further reducing productivity and sales.
Ultimately, low sales can have a ripple effect throughout a business and its stakeholders, making it critical for business leaders to take proactive steps to address the issue.
When a business is not making sales, it can have severe implications on the overall health and longevity of the company. Without sales, a business cannot generate revenue, and without revenue, it cannot cover its expenses or invest in growth opportunities. A lack of sales can lead to a decrease in cash flow, which can result in the inability to pay suppliers or employees, leading to further problems.
In addition, a business’s reputation can suffer if it’s not making sales, which can impact its ability to attract and retain customers in the future. This can create a downward spiral for the business, making it challenging to recover and regain its market position. Therefore, it’s crucial for a business to continually focus on generating sales to ensure its long-term success.
If your business is not making sales and you are worried about its future, speak to one of our team or complete an online enquiry and they can talk you though your options.
With over three decades of experience in the business and turnaround sector, Steve Jones is one of the founders of Business Insolvency Helpline. With specialist knowledge of Insolvency, Liquidations, Administration, Pre-packs, CVA, MVL, Restructuring Advice and Company investment.