5 Questions to Ask When Sales Are Consistently Low

Every business has slow periods. In the world of consumer lifestyle products like those made by most members of the Indie Business Network, the slowest periods are typically the summer months. Things pick up, sometimes to a frenzy, during holidays when people are celebrating and purchasing gifts for loved ones. In the meantime, things can be pretty slow. This is normal, and these predictably slow periods present perfect opportunities plan and strategize the future of your business.

But in some cases, sales don't just slow down from time to time in a predictable fashion. For some Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs, sales are consistently low all year long. In these situations, it's tempting to try to fix the problem by improving your website, boosting social media outreach, or taking better product photos. Those are certainly good things to do, but to explain consistently low sales all year long, you'll have to go deeper than websites and product photos, and ask (and answer) tougher questions. Here are five of them.

5 Questions to Ask When Sales Are Consistently Low

  1. Why are you in business?

    Unless you know your “why,” it will be nearly impossible to take the steps you need to propel your business forward.

    Knowing exactly why you are doing something empowers you to set and achieve goals in ways that serve your “why” and make it come alive in your life. To be successful in your business over the long haul, you must go deep inside yourself to clarify why you are doing what you are doing, and how your business will serve your life outside of either just generating income or making cool products.

  2. Who is your target customer?

    When people ask me what to do to boost sales, I frequently reply by asking them to describe their target customer. Many times, they cannot do so.

    If you don't know who your target customer is, you cannot possibly serve them.

    Creating a product without researching whether or not there is a target buyer for that product is like creating an elaborate steak dinner without first making sure that your guests are not vegetarians.

    Most entrepreneurs start their businesses by making a great product, and then going hunting for buyers. They should be doing the reverse: find the target customers before you create the product.

    Define your target customers first. Understand who they are, what they value, and what they will pay for — and then make that product and offer it to them. If you do this research in advance, you will not have a sales problem.

  3. Creating products without a target is like serving steak without making sure the guests eat meat.Click To Tweet

    Donna Maria, Indie Business Network

  4. Where is your target customer?

    You have to know where to go to earn the attention of your target customers. This is increasingly tough to do in today's noisy social media world where everyone has a business, and everyone is a target. To overcome this challenge requires consistently engaging with your target customers and discovering where they hang out.

    Do they like to discover new things on Instagram? Or do they prefer to browse Pinterest? If they attend specific conferences or trade shows every year, you'll want to meet them there. Do they love supporting local makers in your community? If so, figure out where they go, and you go too.

    Your target customers will not buy your products unless you put your products in front of them. You must know where they hang out in order to do that. Find out where they are, and then go there and be with them.

  5. What is your brand message?

    It doesn't matter how awesome your products are. No one cares. People don't buy products. People buy experiences. They buy lifestyle messages that enhance their lives and make them feel good about themselves.

    As Bernadette Jiwa says in her book, The Fortune Cookie Principle, people do not buy the cookie. They buy the fortune.

    This means that you cannot lead with the cookie. You have to lead with the fortune.

    For example, don't just sell candles. Sell candles that set the mood for a romantic evening, or that are customized to commemorate a special occasion. Don't just sell earrings. Sell earrings made with stones that celebrate a zodiac sign or that help a bride feel like a dazzling princess on her wedding day.

  6. How do your target customers like to buy?

    People buy things in different ways. Some people like to buy online. Others prefer an in-person buying experience. Some people like to be wooed with phone calls, email newsletters or physical visits.

    Some people like to buy directly via Facebook while others enjoy using the buy buttons on Pinterest. Whatever the case, it's your job to find out how your customers like to buy. If they prefer one method and you are using another, you are in trouble. Researching this in advance, and then tweaking it as you go is critical to ensuring that sales never trickle to a halt.

These are tough questions. Asking and answering them is critical to the success of your business.

If your sales are consistently low, put your products aside for a while. Don't think about them. Think about these five questions first. Dig deep to find the answers. Be honest with yourself as you flesh out the details. When you're done, you'll be rewarded with the clarity you need to move forward. You'll be empowered to build your brand on solid footing.

Need More Support?

If you need assistance asking laying a solid foundation for your brand, the entrepreneurial training and mentoring you need is just a click away with your Indie Business Network membership. Join today and get the support you need to grow your business.


Is this article helpful to you? What did I miss? What additional questions would you suggest be asked and answered if sales are consistently low? If you are inspired by the information here, or have something to add, feel free to share in the comments below, 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.