If your company is plodding along, not making much headway as far as increasing turnover is concerned but holding its own in terms of existing orders, a sudden spike in sales figures can be a very welcome event. However, if you want to make the most of such a spike, you need to ensure that your company is able to deal quickly and efficiently with the unexpected increase in business. Failure to do so could result in a decline in sales that is equally unexpected and that leaves your company in a worse position than before. Take a look at the tips below and make sure that you do not miss out on a golden opportunity due to a lack of preparedness.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Preparing for the unexpected might sound like an oxymoron but it is only by making sure that you are ready to spring into action the moment a spike in sales occurs that you will stand any chance of gaining maximum benefit from the new business that comes your way.
- Anticipation – sometimes, sudden spikes are not really as unexpected as they might at first appear. If you have been in business for a number of years, ask a reliable employee to look at historical turnover figures and see if they can identify any seasonal patterns that have so far eluded you and your sales team. If you can predict some of the more regular spikes that occur, you will find it much easier to deal with the outliers as they should be few and far between.
- Utilise temporary staff – it can be difficult to know exactly when to start recruiting more full-time employees in the event of a sudden sales spike, principally because you are not sure whether it will disappear just as quickly and unexpectedly as it arrived. Hire too early and you could be left counting the cost of having a large and unproductive workforce to pay until such a time as you can cut it back to size again. Leave it too late to start hiring and you may find that your inability to deal with the sudden influx of new orders leads to delays and cancellations, which ultimately results in the spike being very transient in nature.
The best solution when faced with an unexpected increase in sales volume is to take on a few full-time employees to fill key positions and hire temporary workers to deal with the bulk of the extra work that the new orders involve. In this way, you can quickly lay off workers that are surplus to requirements if the surge in new business turns out to be as temporary as their contracts. In the event that it is a sustained increase, you can offer the best ones permanent positions and gradually bring your workforce up to full strength.
- Prioritise orders – to make sure that larger and more important customers are not left waiting while you deal with an influx of small orders that are not likely to result in repeat business, you should analyse the new orders that you receive and prioritise those that are most important to your company. Loyal customers who have supported your business for years should be treated as VIPs at such a time, as should new customers who may place large orders on a regular basis if they are satisfied with the way that you handle the first one.
It can be tempting to try to please everybody when sales are going through the roof, promising delivery times that you have no realistic chance of meeting. If you find yourself making promises that you cannot keep, take a step back, assess the situation calmly and decide which orders you really want to get out the door on time. Once you have ensured that you have enough room in your schedule to honour those commitments, you can look at the remaining orders and quote longer lead times if necessary. New clients are more likely to come back if you are truthful with them right from the start.
- Outsource Telephone Answering – if you want to find out how to stop a sudden spike in sales volume almost before it has begun, try not answering your phones for a couple of hours or answering each call so slowly that the potential customer on the other end of the line is in no longer in the mood to give you their business. In most cases, customers subjected to a low level of service when they first attempt to get in touch with a company will not return to try again.
If you want to maximise your chances of turning a temporary spike into a permanent increase in sales, you need to ensure that all calls are answered promptly and dealt with efficiently. An overflow call handling service such as that offered by Message Direct is the perfect solution for times such as this and will ensure that your costs do not rise any faster than the volume of business with which you are dealing. Because professional receptionists know how to deal with prospective customers and make them feel important, any slight delay they may experience whilst waiting for somebody from your firm to call them back is likely to prove insignificant. What would be far more likely to antagonise them is having to try numerous times before they are able to get through and being dealt with in a brusque, inefficient manner when they are finally able to speak to somebody.
Most of the above points are simply common sense as far as most experienced businessmen and women are concerned but if you have never been faced with a sudden surge in new orders before, it will be far less obvious what the most appropriate way to respond should be. The main thing to bear in mind is that such surges in new business can present you with a fantastic opportunity to enlarge your loyal customer base and such opportunities should never be spurned.