There are a number of factors, of course, that can contribute to a situation in which relatively strong, steady sales figures deteriorate.
The first thing that needs to be understood of course is the why? In small organisations this can be solved fairly quickly. In larger more complex organisations the reasons may not be so obvious. It can sometimes take significant cross departmental effort to discover why and how the drop in revenue has occurred.
The classic causes include economic conditions, new competitors or products, political intervention, supplier disruption, pricing wars and degeneration of quality of service/product. The solutions are various but usually have two common themes involving change: Change of service or product, and change of behaviour in the market. Corporate change of behaviour and individual change of behaviour go hand in hand. You can’t change one without the other.
However the first port of call should always be the customer? It is amazing how many organisations, in this day and age of instantly available information, are not close enough to their customers (and their customers’ customers!!) to obtain honest, immediate feedback. In-depth perspectives from the customers are invaluable. Client Satisfaction, Engagement and Focus groups systems form the standard stock, but an often overlooked tool to gain a richer picture of some of the more subtle issues is the use of 360 degree feedback software. These can provide both very granular information of individual behaviour, but also provide clues as the way that an organisation’s behaviour is perceived by the client.
Marketing managers must consider the market in which the product or service is being sold. Has new competition cropped up which makes the product or service seem old-fashioned, expensive, or irrelevant? Managers must conduct market research of potential customers with feedback software tools to determine what the market in that specific area needs, wants, and is likely to purchase. Products and services may need to adapt rapidly if the market is volatile, or if new offerings have appeared in the particular market that the company serves.
Human Resources staff must consider the employees who are responsible for selling the product or serving the customers directly. An inadequately skilled staff, or a disgruntled staff, or an underpaid staff is far less likely to bring in the healthy sales figures needed for sustainable growth. Therefore, it is vital to the future of any corporation that HR staff remain knowledgeable about the needs and capabilities of those they employ. 360 Feedback software can be woven into company web portals to gain a clear understanding of how well employees’ behaviour aligns with the Best Practice requirements of the company. The sales and service staff are the most visible face of the corporation to those who might become customers. If there are indadquecies in that front line, the entire company will suffer.
In conclusion, information is the most valuable tool a company can pursue in the battle to survive an unsteady market. When sales figures drop, the management must act quickly to get as many pertinent facts as possible, in order to stay afloat and come back stronger than ever.
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