As a business and branding coach for bloggers and small business owners, I've sometimes heard an interesting take on why their sales are slow: It's the customers' fault.
Blaming your lack of sales on the customer is a very dangerous and slippery slope in business. Need I remind you of what happened to the CEO of Lululemon after he blamed customers for their quality control oversight? It was a disaster.
Here's some real talk: Nine times out of ten, it is not the fault of your customers that sales are slow.
In my experience, it seems that most of the time there's a hole in the business somewhere, particularly as it pertains to the sales process.
Here are some of the most common areas in which business owners could be dropping the ball and how it could lead to a slowdown of business.
You don't have boundaries.
One common issue I've seen with business owners who are experiencing a slump in sales is a complete lack of boundaries with their customers.
For example, I've often had to coach business owners who complain about having to drive an hour to meet a client and then have that same client talk their ear off for another three hours only to say that they don't want the product or service.
The reality is if you set boundaries for yourself, then this wouldn't be happening. It's like the saying goes, "You teach people how to treat you."
In this case, it could look like only taking meetings on the phone and limiting prospect meetings to 30 minutes. Half an hour is plenty of time to figure out whether or not a prospect is worth pursuing and by creating (and enforcing) policies your customers actually begin to respect you.
You've missed something in your marketing.
If you've done your market research and are consistently putting your message out there, then you shouldn't be experiencing a major slump in sales. I often find that business owners who are experiencing a sales slump either don't really understand their market or they aren't putting enough effort into a consistent marketing message.
This is why it's important to do consistent market research and tweak your strategy as you go along. It's not enough to post a "Buy my stuff!" message on your personal Facebook page one time. Marketing requires a consistent message and consistent effort on the part of the business.
You aren't actually asking for the sale.
While sales and marketing tend to get grouped together, I believe there's actually a big difference between the two. Marketing is getting your message out and staying top of mind. Sales involve asking for the money at some point.
When business owners are experiencing a slump, I start asking questions about their sales process. I sometimes hear stuff like "I'm on Twitter all the time" but I don't hear things like "I asked this person for $X in exchange for my service or product."
You need to understand the different points of your sales process and how to move people through it. Otherwise, you won't actually be making any money.
While some of these issues seem pretty obvious, the truth is sometimes the business owner needs to take a step back and see where there may be some holes in the sales process. This is far more productive than blaming the people you're meant to be serving.