“Times they are a changing” sang Bob Dylan. The fact remains that the cycle of time spares none. You may have the best business plan, the best product in the market,and a great team, but if the times are bad, you may well be left with singed fingers and red figures on your balance sheet.
The good news, however, is that one can make use of the good times and formulate a strategy for the lean period. Here is a look at some uncommon ways that you can use to keep your business afloat during lean times.
1: Reinvent your business:
The first thing you should ask yourself when faced with a lean phase is whether your product or service has become outdated. Take a long, hard look, and if you the answer is ‘yes’, then make use of the lean period to reinvent your business.
Instead of selling the same product over and over again, understand the changing needs of your market. Try developing a futuristic product in your niche segment. Consider how to plan and market for an innovative product for the future instead of worrying about the lean period.
2: Find alternate sales channels:
Every business requires sales to stay afloat. If you find sales dipping as they often do in a lean period, look at new channels for sales. For example, if you have not been selling online, make a start by selling online. Similarly, if you had been focusing on just online sales, then focus on brick-and-mortar as well.Contact your former customers and start a sales referral program that can help you increase your sales in the lean period.Whatever you do, avoid stagnating.
3: Contact former customers:
A lean period is the best time to contact your former customers and make use of the downtime to understand customer behavior. Consider a lean period as a good time to take time out from the usual grind of sales and marketing and understand the pulse of the market, and where your product can improve over its rivals.
4: Try selling additional products to existing customers:
When faced with a lean period, it is a good idea to try selling additional products to your existing customers. There is no harm in offering your existing clients a discounted deal for packages so that they can increase their overall sales volume.
For example, if your existing customer is making a purchase of Rs. 1000 from your company, try and increase that to Rs. 1500 for each customer as a yardstick by bundling other products at discounted or concessional rates.
5: Team up with other vendors:
Lean periods often run parallel across sectors. A lean period is a good time for you to join hands as a collaborator with other business operations and offer collective sales programs. It can be in the form of exhibitions in new territories by sharing costs or improving sales in existing avenues.
You can work out modalities like sharing your clients with multiple vendors in return for their clients or other business benefits like lower overheads or shared distribution. This was you as well as your partnering company can get an additional potential customers to approach.
6: Think deep, but act:
Business owners can do all the homework but a lean sales period is depressing, to understate things. This means many business owners lose out on the motivation to beginning a new process to counter the lean period.
Think or worry about your lean period, sure.But also make sure you devise a strategy to counter the phase and act. Nothing can ever be resolved just by planning and not acting. So keep your thinking cap on but also make sure to act in your plans as soon as possible.
Even if clichéd, it is true that tough times don’t last but tough people do. When faced with a lean phase, keep the motivation levels high and adopt some innovative business strategies to accelerate your exit from the lean period.