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It's Only Common Sense
By Dan Beaulieu
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It’s Only Common Sense: What the Heck Is Going On With Sales?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about how to manage a slowdown in sales. Since then, many of you have called me and said that things are still not getting better, so I’m happy to talk about this issue again. In my previous column, I listed some things you could do to improve your situation. Please go back and read it. But with so many still in a quagmire, I have gone back to the proverbial drawing board to come up with some new ideas and suggestions.
First, I agree with the current situation: PCB sales have slowed down both here in the U.S. and around the world. We are getting bombarded with solicitations from Asia, particularly Chinese manufacturers, which is an indicator to me that their numbers are really down. Meanwhile, the companies in my own network are reporting a downward slide for the third month in a row.
So, what is going on? Salespeople are in a panic, and claim they are trying everything. Not only are they not getting orders, but they’re also barely able to even get an opportunity to quote. They say that even their customers cannot explain the slowdown.
All of this is puzzling, especially since last week at PCB West, I learned from those who are tracking our industry that the global PCB market will grow from $75 billion to a value of $85 billion in the next two years. Nobody I talked to in Santa Clara could provide me with a good answer to the question, “What the heck is going on?”
One thing I know for sure is that this slowdown will end; things will get better. We must stay cool, calm, and collected. Don’t panic. Keep doing what you have been—just do more of it and with even more purpose. Be proactive.
Here are 11 more things you can do (or keep doing) to be proactive throughout the downturn. As the old saying goes, “When you are going through hell, keep going.”
- Analyze your sales process. Start by reviewing your sales process from start to finish. Identity the bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas that need improvement. Are there any common issues that may be causing the standstill?
- Customer feedback. Reach out to your existing customers and ask for their thoughts. Find out whether there are any issues with your boards, pricing, delivery, or customer service that may be causing a decline in sales. Use this feedback to make the necessary adjustments.
- Competitive analysis. Research your competitors to understand what they are offering and how they are attracting customers. Identify areas where you can differentiate your PCB products and services.
- Expand your network. Attend industry events, conferences, and trade shows to expand your network and connect with potential customers. Networking can often lead to new opportunities and partnerships.
- Digital marketing. Invest in online marketing strategies such as SEO, content marketing, social media advertising, and email marketing. These tactics can help you reach a broader audience and generate leads.
- Offer promotions and discounts. Consider offering limited-time promotions or discounts to incentivize new orders. Just be careful not to devalue your products or negatively impact your profit margins.
- Customer retention. Focus on retaining existing customers by providing exceptional service and building strong relationships. Repeat business from satisfied customers can be a significant source of ongoing revenue.
- Diversify your product line. Explore whether there are complementary products or services you can add to your offerings. This may open new markets and revenue streams.
- Improve sales training. Improve yourself and the rest of the team with training programs. Make sure you are equipped with the right skills. Be better prepared than the competition to sell effectively.
- Evaluate pricing. Check out your pricing strategy to make sure that it can sustain the very competitive market conditions that prevail today as they do whenever there is a downturn. Offer more services to keep the prices up as well. It is not always about low prices but about offering better value.
- Stay informed. Stay updated on industry trends and technology advancements in PCB manufacturing. Staying ahead of the curve can make your product more appealing to customers.
Remember that sales slumps can happen for a variety of reasons, and it may take time to see improvements. Consistency in your efforts, combined with a willingness to adapt and innovate, is the key to overcoming a sales standstill. Additionally, do not hesitate to think outside the box. Find new ways of doing things, such as new ways of packaging your products with synergistic partners, like designers and assembly companies, and offering a complete “from idea to reality” package that many customers are looking for.
It all boils down to consistently and determinedly looking for the best solutions for your customers. The better the solution, the better your chances of winning new business in the end.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.
More Columns from It's Only Common SenseIt’s Only Common Sense: A Step-by-Step Guide to Problem-solving
It’s Only Common Sense: Going Well Beyond the Norm
It’s Only Common Sense: The Face of Your Company—Customer Service
It’s Only Common Sense: 24 Mistakes Salespeople Make
It’s Only Common Sense: 9 Proven Reasons Customers Buy From You
It’s Only Common Sense: What Makes a Great Leader?
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It’s Only Common Sense: Don’t Fall in Love With Your Marketing