In periods of slow sales, innovation is a key driving force to boost growth, drive budgets and review cost projections. This enables your small business to use this period of slow sales to innovate and diversify into newer markets and expand your key product lines. With this approach, your business will look to reinvent your product and re-create your business to help your small business be prepared for the next sales cycle.
Renowned corporations, across the world like Apple, Microsoft and GE have strengthened their products and supply chain through innovation in periods of slow sales cycles. Recent customer service statistics found that 55% of customers are looking for a guaranteed experience and 91% of unhappy customers are non-complainers that move on to purchase your competitor’s product, this shows that it is vital to keep your current customers happy while constantly improving your offerings through innovations.
Find Innovative Methods to Increase Sales
The 21st century has seen an upsurge in innovation stimulation through key investments. This revitalises the economy through mutual participation and allows for the right standards to establish themselves as the credible suppliers. You can innovate by:
- Reviewing your sales strategy: Use slow days to re-evaluate your overall sales strategy by reviewing your key value proposition, your competitive advantage and areas of the sales funnel to convert and deliver your company’s objectives through innovation
- Overhauling your sales funnel: Determine and review how your business identifies and conceptualises end-to-end sales drives. This will enable your business to decide what to buy and create a level of commitment that you desire. Review the steps needed, how follow-up calls are met and your sales process at different intervals
- Spending on sales training activities: Ensure that your sales team has the right set of workshops and off-sites needed to provide your team with the right tools to accelerate growth and review feedback. This provides your employees with a chance to share their ideas, express their views and share their ideas
- Review long-term and next year targets: Plan ahead and finalise budgets for last minute projects by re-connecting with your friends and following up with several cold calls. Identify key markets that your business can use to innovate, grow and develop products that fills a need when your clients finalise through budgets
V K Saraswat, NITI Aayog member identifies R&D as the key factor that has helped India’s pursuit to growth. In the last few years, R&D expenditure has seen double-digit percentage points growth.
How small businesses can use the downtime caused by the low points in sales to innovate their product offerings?
During Sales Cycles, innovation can be limited by adoption patterns. Gartner’s Hype Cycle includes 5 stages of innovation as the following:
- An “Innovation Trigger” allows you to look for new technology and commercial viability to review if your product exists and whether it can be sold in the market
- To ensure that your small business is not at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations”, you should ensure that you pay attention to early adopters and prompt sales
- The “Trough of Disillusionment” will ensure that you deliver the right results and gain the support of early adopters and venture capitalists
- As more enterprises approve your tailored and pilot project through the “Slope of Enlightenment”, you can build on the confidence and understanding of those that approve the project and commit themselves to sharing the same in the market
- The final stage involves the “Plateau of Productivity” that allows technology to adopt a set of credible suppliers that recognise your technologies value and how it can be delivered and recognised by the industry as a whole
Globalisation and the integration of technologies have rapidly increased the pace of innovations cycles and product development. “Innovation is difficult in the beginning. There will be a lot of naysayers. Support from top leadership helps in crossing the first threshold,” explains Girish Wagh, Senior Vice President, Programme Planning and Project Management at Tata Motors. Look to innovate through constantly using a combination of prerequisite skills and by asking the right questions. An innovation matrix will enable you to have innovation disruptions and adopt rules like the 70/20/10 rule through tight deadlines, frequent check-ins, and additional resources. This will help to accelerate execution of a strategic plan. Teams should spend as much time as possible with prospective customers, partners, and suppliers. Even richer lessons come when a team goes beyond talking, to actually attempting to produce, sell, and support its offering, even if the offering has some limitations.
In order to innovate; be persistent, remove self-limiting inhibitions, take risks, make mistakes, and escape to a more relaxed environments and nurture curiosity. Plan ways to ensure that your ideation and innovation hits no road blocks. This will further allow you to enhance your product line with better services when the sales cycles change in your favour.