There’s nothing more frustrating for an entrepreneur than to be dealing with stagnant … or absent sales. Everything seems to spiral down. The lack of revenue brings lack of investment. Lack of investment slows marketing. Lack of marketing slows sales. And on we go.
Breaking the Cycle
Many books on the subject of sales and marketing will give you broad ideas and strategic guidance, but very little of it can be put in place immediately.
And when you’re suffering, you want to do something now!
So, here are 3 things you can do today to fix your stagnant business.
1. Niche Down
What makes this suggestion so difficult is that it is so counter-intuitive. When we are desperate for more customers, we feel like we need to attract more not fewer.
But in fact, targeting a niche has the opposite effect. True, the overall addressable market is smaller. But, our ability to attract ideal clients in a niche is higher.
It’s a bit like a math problem. New customers are a product of both the number of prospects and our conversion rate. Finding an appropriate niche and messaging to it successfully has the effect of increasing our conversion rate. And it increases more than the number of addressable prospects goes down. So in the end, we actually get more customers.
So today, think about your niche. Can you narrow to an industry-specific line of business? Can you focus on a geography? Can you focus on an age-group?
Find some way to narrow your focus. Of course, you need to follow that up with effective marketing communication.
The goal of finding a niche is for you to become the category authority in that niche. So your marketing language needs to reflect that. You need to be able to address the very specific goals, fears, and objections this niche will have.
If you’re having heart palpitations over the idea of narrowing your focus, remember this: a target market in a temporary marketing campaign, not the end-all-be-all of your business. Later, you can change it, or widen it. But I often find that entrepreneurs who become financially successful in a niche, learn to love it.
2. Start a Daily Routine for Sales Outreach
A common problem among service-oriented entrepreneurs is that they spend most of their time delivering. They either are working with clients or working on production. But what they aren’t doing it spending time “filling the funnel from the top.”
Only when money is tight and customers are few do they go and start marketing again. This “on again, off again” approach to sales and marketing means they will always experience the “feast or famine” of income.
If you’re in the “famine” phase right now, it’s time to put the tasks in place to fill your marketing funnel once and for all. That means you need to change your habits around sales.
My colleague and friend, Paul McManus, took a successful daily system and enhanced it to cover all of your sales and marketing bases. He calls it the “Daily 7.” By spending as little as a half-hour a day, you can create the steady flow of clients that create a solid revenue stream.
You can ready about that plan in detail here, but let me address the basics.
- Introduce two people in your network who should know each other.
- Share a “virtual high-5” with someone in your network by telling them they did a good job or acknowledging an accomplishment.
- Share a useful article or blog post with someone in your network you think might enjoy it.
- Reach out to someone you don’t know with a targeted and well-researched note that provides value or shares compassion.
- Make an offer to one person each day to have a sales conversation. They may say “no”, but at least make the offer.
- Give one referral, recommendation, endorsement, or review to a member of your network.
- Ask one person in your network for a referral.
This may seem like a lot, but in actuality it doesn’t take much time.
What it will do, however, is start the wheels turning again in your business. Make it a habit. Schedule it in your planner. Set a maximum time and do the best you can with the list.
The more you do it, the easier it gets – and the more effective it becomes.
3. Get a coach, mentor, or mastermind group
I strongly believe that every entrepreneur should have a coach. You should make this a significant and important investment in your business. I have had a coach for several years now and will continue to. Regardless of how well I’m doing, I need another set of eyes on my strategy and execution.
You may think this isn’t affordable – especially when cash is tight. I highly recommend you gather the resources to make it happen. You are much more likely to be successful with a coach than without.
For example, I am an Elite-Level Book Yourself Solid® coach. Almost all (93%) business owners using the Book Yourself Solid® system see a 40% increase in revenue year-over-year. Compare that with the average 3% increase in revenue for those not using that system.
The numbers are clear. If you can, you should invest in a coach.
However, many people find that they simply can’t afford coaching now. If that’s the case for you, there are other options which are cheaper or in some cases, free.
A mentor is different from a coach in two major ways. A mentor has usually achieved a particular level of success or outcome that you are looking to replicate. That may or may not be the case with a coach. Often, a mentor will work with you out of friendship or as a favor.
Unlike many business coaches, a mentor usually doesn’t have a “system” for success. He or she will often simply observe your actions and comment based on their experience. A mentor can be a very effective resource – depending on their level of experience and their ability to observe your behavior and influence it successfully.
Finally, you may consider a mastermind group. A mastermind is a group of similar entrepreneurs looking to help each other with their businesses. These group members will help each other with strategy, ideation, and problem-solving.
Many entrepreneurs who participate in masterminds find they grow deep and lasting relationships with the other members. They find each other business, help each other navigate difficult challenges, and often can be instrumental in decisions that lead to huge growth and success.
I have run mastermind groups before for successful entrepreneurs and find the participants get huge value from the experience. If you have interest in joining such a group, I run them periodically. You can check here for the latest group meetings and availability.
Take Action Today
The worst thing you can do as an entrepreneur struggling with stagnant and unpredictable revenue is to do nothing.
Start by analyzing your niche, starting a daily sales routine, and getting a coach, mentor, or mastermind group to help you.
If you take these actions, you’ll see a dramatic increase in your ability to create a sustainable income stream which will keep the “feast or famine” cycle at bay.
But most of all, you’ll be taking action – today! That will feel empowering. That empowerment will shift your mindset to success. And that’s the first step on your journey away from your stagnant income to a thriving enterprise.
Good luck on the journey!