It’s a tough time to run a small business.
Costs are steadily increasing, customers are cutting back, and there is chaos in the world in all sorts of different ways. So, what can you do?
Now, most businesses in this situation will immediately want to find more customers and sell more of their goods and services to them by offering special deals and promotions.
But, if everyone’s trying to do that, and there are less customers buying less, then that’s unlikely to succeed.
And, in any case, once you start doing deals and discounting … it’s hard … very hard … to go back.
It would seem to me that the slow selling businesses out there will see this situation differently.
They will see that costs are increasing, so they need to be much cannier, they will see that customers are cutting back, so they need to be more inventive, and give better value for money.
They will see all of these changes as a perfect storm which is going to give them more drive to raise their game and rise above their competition in order to stand out or even survive.
Of course, this is what we teach businesses to do all the time in slow selling, but there has never been a time when it’s more important than now.
And it’s much easier to get the drive to do this when your back’s starting to get up against the wall.
What can I advise to anyone reading this who is considering starting a new business, or runs a small business already?
How can you realistically rise to the occasion and use today’s troubles to be a turning point for the better in your business?
Here are a few small suggestions:
- Remember that you are a small business and can’t compete on the same playing field as a big business. You need to play to your strengths, and these strengths are customer loyalty and reputation, and the ability to be more dynamic and change more quickly than your competition.
- Easy to say the above, of course, but much harder to do. We suggest that now is the time – if you haven’t done so already – to start to get really close to your customers and gather feedback from them in a professional and customer focused way. Please don’t use a quick fix, off the shelf system. Please get this right.
- If you would like some really useful information on how to do this properly, please contact us and ask us for our free e-book, ‘How to Build a Feedback System that Actually Works’ … because most feedback systems don’t work. They are usually unprofessional and annoying to the customers and give you inaccurate and dangerously misleading information at best, and really just give you extra aggro for no benefit (which is of course why so few businesses actually embrace customer feedback processes properly).
- Once you’ve got your feedback ongoing, the key now is to respond to it and to use the information effectively. We cover how to respond to feedback in great detail in our free e-book as mentioned above, and especially in times of change and turmoil, it’s how you respond to your customers’ needs and use the information you’ve gleaned that will really put you head and shoulders above your competition.
- For example, if you provide professional services, what other services are they buying elsewhere that they are finding inconvenient? How could you leverage your relationship with the customer to provide those services more cost effectively and make life easier for them because they now only have to go to one supplier rather than two?
- If you provide luxury services, it’s likely that your customers are going to be cutting back, so what are they really looking for that is going to get them to part with their hard-earned cash, and what will actually raise your game so that you stand out from the crowd and not only attract them back, but also attract other people? After all, particularly in times of difficulty, the businesses that are really focusing on getting it right, just get busier and busier because customers are pickier and choosier with their discretionary pound, and therefore do more research and go out of their way to find the best people to spend their money with.
- If you are a business services provider, what can you gather from your customer feedback that your customer is struggling with? What can you do to make life easier or more profitable for them, and then of course make them more loyal to you?
We could go on with all these examples, but the real key to this is to get as close as possible to your customer, which they will allow you to do more easily in difficult times.
So, this is in fact a huge opportunity for those businesses that truly want to embrace the slow selling principles, and to use this information the customer is giving you to properly raise your game – not only for now, but forever.
So often in business we find when times are good that people get complacent, and systems start to slip, and value starts to slip.
And then of course when the tough times come – and remember the tough times will always come – these problems really come home to roost, and life becomes phenomenally hard when it doesn’t really need to be.
So rather than looking on these turbulent times as a problem, look on them as an opportunity to really learn what you can do to raise your game and increase your value, and to embed systems and principles in your business that will ensure you not only do that now, but do it continually into the future.
Now in a nutshell is a great time to start embracing the systems of slow selling.
I hope this short blog has helped you just change your mind set a little bit away from all of the problems out there.
I’m not disputing that there are plenty of them, but I am suggesting that you try to see them differently.
To see that these problems are actually a massive opportunity to really raise your game – not only because you have to, but because when times get good again this will give you a massive head start to become immensely profitable.
As Darwin famously said, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, but those most adaptable to change.’
Slow Selling is a UK based not for profit organisation for leaders of independent businesses.
It is a set of principles to help you slow down, set up systems for long term success, and use these to grow sales and profits through reputation, attraction, recommendation and referral.
Without wasting time, money and stress on unnecessary marketing and promotions.
To find out more, please click here