Last modified: January 22, 2018
What do you do when your sales suddenly decline? If you’re like me, when things are going well I don’t always pay attention to the details, and it’s those details that can make or break your business. What would happen if your product sales suddenly dropped without warning? Do you know where to start looking? Do you have the data needed to identify the trend change? There’s no definitive answer to that question, and if you’re not prepared you won’t be able to recover quickly and save those sales. Over the years of working with vendors and clients, I’ve been able to put together a short checklist that all sellers should be thinking about each day, not just when the revenue stream dries up. So when your sales start to decline, pull out this list, but prepared beforehand.
Here’s a list of items to keep in mind when reviewing a decline in sales:
1. Perform a search engine investigation:
- You should search for your product, company and keywords on multiple search engines. Think and search like a potential customer would. Keep in mind that not all customers will search for your company or product names directly so ensure that you test your rankings off of common search phrases to find your product.
- Emails you send to your customers with new product announcements and promotional offers
- Has there been any change in your search rankings? If so, figure out why you’re seeing a change. It could be due to a search engine update (ex. Penguin and Panda).
- Has a competitor taken over your AdWords? Review your keywords, branded and non-branded, to see if your competitors are coming up in searches using those terms or phrases.
- Do you have a bad company review? Check out your social media sites as well as discussion forums to see what your customers are talking about. If you have a bad review, reach out to that customer and resolve the issue.
2. Investigate your website:
- Go through your website flow and test your cart, checkout process and links. Did a homepage change break your cart flow preventing customers from getting to the checkout? Also, this may seem obvious, but make sure your ‘Buy Buttons’ are functioning properly.
3. Review your website analytics
- Website analytics are critical to the success of your business. You can use analytics to pinpoint where your customer traffic is coming from, your user’s site behavior as well as the exact flow of you website. In addition, analytics help identify the reasons you may have high bounce rates and cart abandonment. One feature analytics can show is your site heat map which provides information on the way your customers interact with your product pages and the overall user experience from start to finish. Analytics help tell your story from a different perspective and you may realize your customers aren’t looking at your website the way you intend them to.
4. Check-in with your affiliate, partner and other channel sales:
- If you are taking advantage of affiliate networks, partners or other sales channels, make sure you have an idea of their sales cycle and processes so you don’t have a drastic decrease in sales that is unplanned. You should also know how to mine your data to effectively track your channel sales and identify changes in your key accounts sales trends. Use this information you’ve identified to review your top performers and understand how they market your product. This will help safeguard your product and make sure it’s being advertised of the way you want it to be.
5. Be aware of currency changes:
- As world markets change, ensure that you adjust your prices to align across all currencies. Data mining your order set will help identify if you have had a drop in revenue because you’ve had a drop in sales, or if you’re losing money in the currency conversion of those orders.
6. Frequently test your trial conversions:
- Do you rely on download sites to distribute trial versions of your software? Review your download sites and ensure that there haven’t been any changes to your product listings. Check your trial file and ensure that the conversion process is still working properly.
7. Know your timing of subscription orders::
- If you have subscription products, know your daily/weekly/monthly renewal rates and common fluctuations. Does a drop in renewals indicate an issue with high cancelations or an issue in the processing of those renewals? Be prepared to answer those questions.
There may be more key indicators unique to your business that I didn’t cover in this blog. Make a list of all the facets of your business that could disrupt your revenue stream and make a mental note to check your checklist on a regular basis. You may find yourself catching a potential issue before it actually becomes your problem. Let us know what you added to your list in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!