How to Overcome an Online Sales Slump

Are you disappointed by this year's online holiday sales? Do you feel overwhelmed at the notion that your products, as great as they are, will still be collecting dust on a shelf at the end of the holiday season? Do you feel like you are not privy some kind of secret magic sauce that others have, as they talk about piles of orders shipping to homes across America? If so, I have some great news for you. This post outlines eight keys to transforming not only how you approach a sales slump, but also how you approach entrepreneurship in general.

Sales Slump

First, let me share what I have taught my children ever since they were old enough to misplace a toy: When you panic, things only get worse. Keep this in mind as we move forward here.

When you panic, things only get worse.Click To Tweet

Donna Maria, Indie Business Network

When you panic, you cannot think straight. In fact, you cannot really think at all. And when you've got thousands of dollars sunk into products that are sitting on shelves, panic will give way to the kind of negative emotions that will doom all of your efforts. Take a moment and scream in your closet for a few minutes if you must, then emerge and put your thinking cap on.

Don't panic. Be mindful. Identify the problem. And then solve it.

How to Overcome an Online Sales Slump

  1. Remember what you did that worked, and do it again!.

    Think back over the life or your business and remember actions you took the resulted in sales. Were your customers especially motivated by a particular blog post or newsletter? Can you recall a day when a few carefully placed sales calls yielded good results? Did you participate in a pop up shop or some kind of open house or show? Recall your successes, and do what you can to repeat the actions that led to them.

  2. Don't expect immediate results.

    I know this may make you want to throw something at me, but it's true. Entrepreneurship is not like a job, which delivers a pay check during the first few weeks. Know that whatever I (or anyone else) suggests is going to take some time. If you're looking for immediate results, stop reading now. It will only frustrate you.If you want to create a business that produces regular income, replace your microwave mentality with a crock pot one. Have you done that? OK. Now, we can talk.

  3. Resist becoming the human reflection of your sales slump.

    Don't adopt the characteristics of your sales slump. Your energy either attracts sales or it repels them. If you become a walking, talking embodiment of your sales slump, you'll attract more sales slumps.Don't slow down. Don't give up. Don't spend a lot of time hanging your head around other people who are in the midst of a sales slump.Find your biggest motivators and invest your time with them. Consider a coaching session to help reinforce a positive, proactive perspective and brainstorm some new sales and marketing strategies.

  4. Assess how you communicate with people.

    During the holidays, we have a tendency to promote, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's a normal part of the holiday sales process, and everyone knows that product companies generate a huge chunk of annual sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas.The problem comes in when you try to force November and December to carry a disproportionate amount of the water that should be carried by January through October.Take a look back at how you communicated this year. Were you consistent in your messaging? (Do you have a message?) Did you send out a newsletter in January and February, and then skipped it until November? In that case, you are getting what you planned for.Or maybe you blogged like crazy for a minute, and when the sales did not come flying in, you stopped.

    Perhaps you heard about Periscope, but think it's just too much trouble to figure out.

    If you did not choose and use some combination of the above from January through October 2015, then November and December 2015 are not going to make up for it. Expecting them to is like eating cake and ice cream from Monday through Friday, and expecting a kale and salmon diet to make up for it on Saturday and Sunday. It won't work.

    So, the first thing to do is to assess the consistency and authenticity of your communication strategies, and make changes were necessary so the same thing does not happen next year.

  5. Sell in a different way.

    If last year's sales strategies are not working this year, create new ways to sell. Technology makes this relatively easy these days.

    If last year's sales strategies are not working this year, create new ways to sell.Click To Tweet

    Donna Maria, Indie Business Network

    Host a weekly Periscope show to introduce people to your brand and the lifestyle it reflects. Host an online home party, perhaps on Facebook or maybe using Google Hangouts.

    Ask your Maker friends with complementary products to co-host an online event with you. It would be a lot of work, yes, but so is wringing your hands and worrying about slow sales. If you're going to be stressed out, you might as well make money while you're doing it, right? And if it works, you have a template for a whole new sales strategy that you can use over and over again.

  6. Sell something different. If you feel you have done all you can to boost sales, and nothing is working so far, the last thing you want to do is waste the day crying over spilled milk. Now is a good time to consider creating something that may subsidize a disappointing sales season. Fill the orders for products in your regular line when they come in, but in the meantime, consider creating an easy, low cost information product to make up some of the lost revenue.

    For example, our member, Dawn Fitch at Pooka Pure and Simple has become really good at using social media to promote her bath and body products. During an especially slow time a few years ago, she wrote The S Factor, an ebook to help creative entrepreneurs use social media to promote their businesses.You may not think you are in a position to write a book, but that's probably not true. If you know how to do something, there are plenty of people out there who want to learn from you. Ebook sales may not make up for all of the revenue lost during a slow sales period, but writing is a productive task, and creating and selling an ebook can help make up for some of the lost income. You can design a quick cover on a free service like Canva.

  7. Reach out to the media or product bloggers.

    The media and bloggers are always looking for stories to fill their blogs and pages. Use a down sales time to find the media outlets that have readers and viewers that fit your target customers, and reach out to them. Most bloggers have information at their sites about how you can send them product samples or story ideas, and most traditional magazines have editorial calendars that share exactly what types of stories they need in the coming months. You can also use a free service like Help a Reporter (HARO) to get a daily dose of media queries that fit your business model.

  8. Take an honest look at your website.

    How easy is it to buy your products? Is it clear how to put things into a shopping cart? Do the images and copy at your site instill confidence in total strangers? Is the home page welcoming and easy to navigate? Do your products tell a coherent story about your products and how they enhance the lives of people who use them?Make changes where you see that it's necessary to do so. (If you're a member of the Indie Business Network, you'll get great tips if you log in and watch our Member Makeover videos. You'll find great ideas and actions you can take immediately to improve your customers's shopping experience.


What do you do when you encounter a sales slump? What strategies have you used to overcome these types of tough times in your business? Share your experiences in the comments, or share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.