Without regular, repeating sales business will falter. But major highs and lows in sales can wreak havoc on your capacity, your cash flow and psyche. We reached out to 52 business owners and experts to find out how they deal with the ups and downs in their sales pipeline.
Founder & Experience Strategist at Hostile Sheep
I designed the Hostile Sheep business model to avoid extreme highs and lows. All of our projects are time-boxed to either 1, 2, or 3-weeks. Because our projects occur so quickly, we’re usually able to shuffle projects to fill in low-periods. We only work on a single project at a time, so we don’t ever wind up with too much work on our plates. If we ever have a situation where two or three clients approach us with projects at the same time, we can often slot them in within 30-days of their request. Again, because we can complete projects so quickly, clients usually don’t have to wait long for us to complete what we’re working on.
Additionally, we purposely schedule a 1-week latency between projects. This helps our team re-group, talk about the project we just completed, and invest in R&D activities. We also use this time to support a couple additional revenue streams that help provide consistent revenue.
Our first initiative launched this year; Understanding Patterns (www.understandingpatterns.com) launched with a product our team created through internal R&D efforts - ‘Design pattern reference cards’ help product designers build better products through the use of UX patterns. We’re still monetizing the initiative, but our pilot was extremely successful.
We expect the initiative will return a modest $5-10K each month when it becomes more mature. Not enough revenue on its own, but a good supplementary stream. We’re also establishing a few content partnerships; where our team will use the 1-week latency time to produce exclusive content for various publications. Again, a modest revenue stream - but one that helps ensure we don’t have extreme low-points in our revenue stream.
Bio: Jordan has worked with some of the biggest, most respected organizations around the world. He’s worked with agencies such as Critical Mass, Sapient, IDEO, Razorfish, BBDO, Ogilvy, TAXI, and many others. He’s worked with brands such as VISA, CitiBank, Penn State University, NCAA, Cancer Care Ontario, Mazda, Nike, BMW, Campbell’s Soup, The Ministry of Health, University of Chicago, Canadian Tire, Amazon, and General Electric Research & Development.
In 2014, Jordan formed Hostile Sheep a research and design firm with a unique business model and offering. Today, Hostile Sheep has proven to deliver
exceptional results quicker and more economically than any other design firm.
Founder of the eagerly-anticipated: OPTIM-EYEZ platform
Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook
As a solopreneur, this topic couldn't be more relevant...
It all boils down to one essential ingredient: Preparation.
Before I quit employment, I ensured I had a respectable financial cushion to cope with the inevitable ups and downs of business.
Without such a cushion, it's easy to see how business owners can become suffocated and end up hanging on for dear life with each month that goes by...
Instead of creativity, new products or services and steps towards taking your business to new heights ... All valuable focus and energy is sapped through constant worry about monthly cash flow. This is not conducive to success.
Initial launch aside, I now ensure I stay on track to hit bigger targets by reserving as much cash as possible, regularly assessing and cutting all unneccessary costs and simply: Honing my mind on the bigger picture. The end goal.
Continuous preparation allows me to think this way, even if zero sales are made in the next few months ahead.
The end goal is the real motivation — and every business owner should have one!
Think: Flagship products, game-changing services and disruptive innovation that dwarfs any current monthly sales.
When you have this overarching vision in mind, fending off immediate distractions and cash flow worries becomes less of an ordeal.
Bio: Sam Hurley is a lateral-thinking digital marketer, influencer and personal branding expert who holds solid experience in both agency and client-side settings. He is Founder of the eagerly-anticipated: OPTIM-EYEZ platform.
President at Ironwood Lithographers
This is a long process of having to build an "honest" and "realistic" pipeline, on top of your sales goals. It must be realistic. Too many times a sales manager or owner puts unrealistic expectations on their sales staff. If a good salesperson is having a bad month or quarter they are beat down by the negative of the sales number assigned to them. Each sales person has their wish list but do they break that out into their; quick wins, middle of the sales cycle and the large/recurring clients?
When this is done, and truly tracked properly, you find that your hard efforts in the beginning of your sales career or new sales job, begins to pay off and those high and lows seem to fade away. If we are only working on one or two large opportunities then our pipeline holds too much risk if one or neither opportunity pan out.
But if we hold a variety of true prospects and managed and follow up on these frequently, and continue to make forward progression in the relationship, then in time you find that your monthly high and lows become less frequent.
Principal, Paper Leaf Design
It starts by trying our best to accurately and critically forecast those monthly swells and dips so as to have a feasible yearly goal. As primarily a time & materials services company, we have a few years of data to draw on for estimating personnel and shop efficiency with regards to billable rates as well, so historical data helps here.
Finally, we use leading indicators – primarily hours of availability – that we check on every two weeks to let us know how much work we need to close in the upcoming 30/60/90 days, if any.
Founder & CEO, Company Folders | Printwand | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+
The best way to deal with ups and downs of the sales pipeline is to create your budget on an annual basis. Take out more money than you need in the beginning so that you can save the excess for the lulls.
Pay annual expenses during your busy time so you don't have to worry about them at a time when you are down. Planning this way will allow you to stay calm during a low because you have extra money from the high.
Bio: Vladimir is the Founder and CEO of Company Folders, an innovative presentation folder company that has won multiple awards, including ranking in Inc. 5000's list of fastest growing private companies in America in 2015 and 2016. He is a thought leader in print design, and has published numerous articles including such publications as Forbes and Times.
Founding Partner, Unstoppable Conversations
There is a critical context for sales that is missing for most salespeople: "It's not about you!"
We all want to be high performers, we all want to do well, we all want to make money, we all want...well, we're great wanters!
But if your sales is about you, then it quickly evolves into trying to "look good" or "get it right" and both of those taken for granted approaches leave you incredibly vulnerable to the highs and lows of your results.
To effectively level out the highs and lows, sales has to be about something bigger than yourself. You can start with having it be about the client. That's good if you can really own that and sustain it. What's even better is to have your sales be about something bigger than you AND bigger than them.
It could be about changing the industry, it could be about revolutionizing technology for business as a whole, or it could be about impacting a community or a sector in a positive way. My sales are always about "causing leadership for a transformed world." There is not any time of day where that isn't an interesting proposition to me. Why wouldn't I pick up the phone, whether or not I'm currently having a "good week" or a "bad week."
What's your sales about?
The Leading Sales Coach | LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube
Understand how many prospects and new customers you need to acquire on a monthly basis to grow quickly, and then double it. Too many entrepreneurs have a great meeting with one or two prospects and put all the weight on those accounts closing.
In the event that they don't, or the timelines become delayed, it becomes the entrepreneurial scramble to find new business to keep their cashflow steady. If you need 3 new clients every single month, double your prospecting activities and strive for 6.
You will likely not gain all 6, but it's far better to be over the number you need, and breathe easy, than be struggling to grow. Yes it's a lot of work, but it's worth it when you can grow your business quickly and easily.
Short Bio: Kim is The Leading Sales Coach, Success Magazine’s most inspirational blogger, LeadFuze's most influential sales leader, and soon to be three-time author. She continues to expand her presence with international speaking, including being invited to speak Hubspot’s Inbound alongside Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, and Michelle Obama.
Kim’s courageousness to quit her life and backpack solo around the world inspired her to use her mastery in sales to help sales professionals and entrepreneurs make communication shifts that lead to stronger relationships and more revenue.
Expert Search Marketer for B2B SaaS Companies
I am student of the Sandler sales training system. One of the things we have learned in the classes is developing a consistent selling system based on what are referred to as Minimum Daily Sales Activities (MDSAs). Basically, no matter how much work we have in the pipeline, we are committed to a preset list of activities to be performed every day to keep new leads coming in.
I don't do a ton of outbound sales activities, most of my efforts center around referral marketing, networking and inbound SEO/content efforts.
Each day I spend 15 mins connecting with and engaging prospects on LinkedIn. These prospects could be ideal clients (VP of marketing at a B2B company with 10-20 employees doing around $10M a year in revenue), or strategic partner prospects (VPs, Directors, CMOs at large agencies and design shops who do not have internal SEO resources). Starting conversation there is key.
Leverage existing clients for warm introduction through LinkedIn and email with other people who might benefit from our services.
Finally, and this is the big one for my agency, using content to drive targeted traffic across the funnel to landing pages for lead generation. I spend about 1-2 hours every single day writing content.
Regardless of how business is going, I commit myself to working on these 3 things each day to ensure I am working to fill the pipeline.
CEO and Founder, Xpan Interactive
At Xpan, our sales cycles vary greatly across our product and service offerings, from 30 days to 18 months. We monitor our pipeline closely by analyzing the leading indicators to sales, specifically in-bound leads, touch points (phone calls, emails, social media), meetings (presentations), proposals and close rates.
We have historic data on volume and conversion rates across the sales funnel. By monitoring this sales activity instead of actual monthly sales, we have a clear indication of annual targets well in advance. This allows our pipeline to hold on average of ten times our average monthly sales numbers."
Bio: Ron Thiele is the founder and CEO of Xpan Interactive Ltd. a Calgary based Digital Agency and North American leader in the development of elearning solutions for large corporations. Since 2001, Ron has led a strong team of web experts, instructional designers, multimedia developers, 3D and video artists, writers, programmers and project managers, helping large organizations build effective digital knowledge solutions.
Ron has over 29 years experience in the corporate communications, interactive and elearning industries. As a volunteer Ron has been a senior advisor to the Vermillion Institute, an independent policy institute dedicated to advancing the vision that sustainability means caring for people, planet and prosperity. Ron sat on the Board of Directors and is Past President of Digital Alberta, an industry-led organization devoted to promoting and connecting the local thriving digital media community. He was also on the board of Alberta's ICT Council, Calgary Downtown Association and chaired the Calgary Urban Development Committee.
Chief Strategist and Founder at Stratagem.io | Testimonials
In answer to your question, we employ a few things and this is all centred on the idea that forward planning is critical in businesses.
Make sure we build financial reserves in the event we find ourselves in a “sticky” situation
We recognize that lead generation can take a long time so actively employ lead generation well in advance of when it is required
We nurture strong relationships with existing customers since it costs far more to acquire new customers than it does to continue doing business with existing ones
We do brand building activities that continually increase word of mouth
Although we’re not doing it at the moment since we don’t have enough data, over time we intend to analyze our data regularly to see what was the cause of dip in sales so that we can take corrective action sooner in the future.
Ultimately whatever causes the dip in sales is likely due to a series of events that took place some time before the actual dip occurred so best to take corrective action before the actual dip occurs.
CoFounder and Director at CMNGD
Before we ever started CMNGD (think common good) we ran the numbers, projections and the "what ifs". We knew from the beginning (before we ever incorporated) that this would be a capital heavy & intensive business.
We had a, shall we say, a not so great ex-business partner, but I did learn a game changing trick from him.
Run Your Weekly Cash Flow
That's right every Tuesday, our bookkeeper runs a weekly cash flow report. This is a ritual and is always done. Why? Because it tells us EVERYTHING we need to know about our business in a quick snapshot.
- How much is currently in the bank account and left on credit
- How much $ came in last week
- How much $ we spent
- What client invoices are outstanding
- What recurring payments or invoices we need to pay
- Weekly Payroll
- How much $ we need to come in next week to pay the bills
This has been the very thing that has kept our business running, it has been critical in building our startup. Keeping your eyes on numbers not only helps you identify when there are problems but it shows you the successes too.
This simple weekly ritual, enabled us to bring on early investors, yes we needed money but we could also show how we were going to make more money through our numbers.
So if you want to manage your highs and lows in business, keep your eye on the numbers, they tell the real story.
Co-founder and CEO, Code and Effect
We have a cash flow spreadsheet that we update regularly with estimated and actual revenue and expenses. It tells us how much money we are expecting, how much we need to cover our costs, and how many months of runway we have given our current expected revenue and costs.
We keep a line of credit as a back up should we ever need to bridge a few months of slow sales. Sales and business development are consistent, regardless of our workload, to keep leads coming in. We also run a lean shop with set budgets to keep our margins comfortable.
Founding Partner, Versett
As a service based business our main resource is people. So typically we aim to smooth the actual workload (cost of doing business) out over time, regardless of when sales were made. This helps us from having to staff up and down as we endure inevitable highs and lows in sales.
It's a delicate balance. One part is ensuring we have necessary resources to execute quality work through busy periods.The other is ensuring we don't grow our resources and overhead to a point that requires unsustainable sales numbers to support it.
As we've matured we've been fortunate enough to have an influx of more stable, longer-term client partnerships which provide us a fairly good base for our sale projections. We supplement this with a percentage of informed quality leads. Together this essentially helps us to compare our actual performance to our goals and predict any necessary adjustments.
Director, Sales and Marketing at Yellow Pencil
In services, we suffer from highs and lows. It's the biggest challenge our business needs to manage. But for us, the highs and lows happen over months rather than within a month due to the longer duration of our projects.
Our first strategy is to increase our retainer or subscription revenue. By looking for ways to turn project revenue into annualized revenue, we can flatten out our spikes and have more revenue certainty.
Our second strategy is to focus on healthy, long-term client relationships. We prioritize clients with repeat business, and we strive to keep those clients happy and build trust. By doing so, we can often negotiate project start/stop to better align to our capacity. If we have some say in when work starts and stops then we can mitigate highs and lows.
Our third strategy is to maintain accurate business data about projects and revenue. Knowing the current state of each project, what revenue we plan to earn in each month, and when that project is likely to end lets us see revenue gaps far enough ahead in order to be able to hustle and find new work.
When all three of those strategies fail for some reason, then we still have pain. I'll be pleased to see what others suggest in order to mitigate highs and lows. I can always learn something new.
The key for making our sales goals, both monthly and yearly, is having constant open communication with my sales team. When numbers are low, I remind the team that it’s a natural part of the sales process to not make numbers on occasion but not to get discouraged!
I remind them about all of the incentives we offer when goals are met and in no time at all we are back on track. The highs of sales are of course the better times that seem to drive everyone even more. When goals are met and our sales team get those bonuses, they work harder to meet that next goal and get that next tier bonus.
Maintaining that open communication is really key to get everyone through the low times and empower them even more during the high times to meet our montly and yearly goals.
Commercial Real Estate Broker, Partner at NAI Commercial
I have been earning 100% of my income strictly from commissions over the past 14 years. To add more potential stress, I'm also in an industry where the sales cycle can be many months, if not years.
There are constant challenges along the way, and perhaps none larger than obtaining long-term success while enduring short-term setbacks. While there have been a number of smaller things that have helped, I would confidently say that working on a team has been the dominant factor in helping weather the ups and downs I've faced along the way.
I've always had friends and mentors I've relied on for advice and support, but its not the same as having someone personally invested in the outcome of my business. Whether it's celebrating the victories, or formulating a game plan to rise up from the defeats, having teammates to go into battle with each and every day offers an unparalleled perspective.
I've not only been more successful working with a team, I've enjoyed my career that much more.
Owner at Shameless Design Studio
As a small design studio, the ebb and flow of sales can be enormous. It is often the large, more profitable projects that cause the largest disruptions however. They more often than not drag on, hit roadblocks, turn strange corners, and don’t pay out for large gaps of time. They demand more time and attention, making the scheduling and multi-tasking of smaller projects a challenge.
As a small studio, the constant flow of smaller projects seems easier, more beneficial, but its not always the case as the margins are smaller and you can’t afford to lose time, increasing risk.
So what am I saying?
Well, what I have learned is to break my year into quarterly cycles. I set project cycles, and try to turn everything around, in a cycle, as much as possible (not always possible). I can’t focus on monthly sales, I have to look at quarterly sales and targets, and allow for the high and low months to balance each other out. It takes the pressure off and gives me breathing room if I need to alter targets, or plan for any client-building initiatives in advance.
Founder of LeadFuze | Linkedin
The key to hitting sales goals (whether monthly or yearly) is consistency. Having a lead generation strategy that you execute on a daily basis is key.
Could be connecting on linkedin, sending cold emails, sending handwritten letters, some "warm calling" after you've done those things... Committing time each day to those things and you'll be surprised how you're able to consistently meet your goals.
Head of Mid-Market Affiliate Sales at Rakuten Marketing
I think the most important issue to address here is attitude. As salespeople, we often experience extreme highs and lows in the sales process that can dramatically affect our outlook on things.
For me, I focus on the areas within my immediate control (outreach, target research, my attitude, etc.) and set achievable goals against those to keep me focused. Looking back at every tough time in my sales career, I’ve always found my way out of it eventually. Taking a step back to remember that fact is extremely helpful as well.
Another thing that helps to ensure I hit my yearly goal is to focus on doing my absolute best just one day at a time. I’ve learned that consistency leads to success with sales so I try not get so distracted with the annual number and instead focus on my daily tasks. I’ve been in sales and sales leadership for over 13 years now and this formula hasn’t let me down yet!
CEO at Lattice
In any given month, sales are going to vary. The key is to decouple this with your emotions as much as possible -- try not to get too happy during the highs or too down during the lows.
Instead of focusing on your emotions, focus on learning. Try to keep an analytical mind and study why things are going well or poorly so you can either double down or make adjustments.
Founder & CEO HeadCount Corporation
As a recurring service business, a substantial component of our monthly sales are predictable and consistent. However, in addition to our base recurring revenue, we also generate revenue from discrete project work, hardware sales and some ongoing service work – this revenue is very unpredictable and difficult to forecast.
We start our process by setting yearly sales targets and then create a sales plan by month using historical trends as a guide. In order to refine our plan, we rely heavily on our sales pipeline that tracks all current sales opportunities including “guesstimates” of the sales dollar potential, timing and probability of closing.
In my experience, there is no perfect forecasting system – especially when revenue is unpredictable – however setting targets and managing the sales pipeline are critical.
President at Levven
We are an interesting business in that we have two sides to our business:
New product design, development, manufacturing and sales.
Our CM side funds the other side. Our new products are still a fairly small part of our revenue (>10%) so they don’t impact us much.
However, our CM side can fluctuate 10-15% month to month, despite consistently delivering what we expect annually. This can make things difficult for managing cashflow and inventory in particular.
We live and breath by our cashflow forecasts and I meet weekly with my CFO to see how we are tracking against them. We also review our Aged A/R report to ensure we are collecting cash in a timely fashion. Accounting also delivers me a weekly scorecard on our Key finance numbers like Cash on hand, A/R Balance, A/P Balance and any uncleared Payables so that I am never surprised by our cash position.
The biggest challenge we have is testing our cashflow assumptions. If something changes and I don’t catch it we can be out significantly, which is never good when you run as tightly as we have to.
Co-founder/Creative Director – Pulp Studios Inc.
We don't tend to set yearly goals. It just seems to carry on. That is, I understand, super not ideal!
For the past 4 years we have earned a consistent income year over year. This has included many fluctuations on a month- month and seasonal basis. Around Christmas and in the summer we take a dip and the fall and spring seem to pick up a lot.
I suppose, I know what our monthly demand is to operate and so I've fixed my expectations for a yearly budget based solely around that reality. We need X amount of dollars per month times 12 = Yearly goal.
We've been fortunate to exceed that amount each year for a few years. So far this year is looking pretty trim and we may not make that goal.
Purpose specialist & Speaker, Author of the Purpose Roadmap
Real Life Mechanics
Naturally it can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. However, knowing what will be earned at the end of the year, more or less, based on what's in the sales pipelines, helps me know how ok things will be. Things, I find, always even themselves out. That's why I rely on forecasting to see where there might be revenue dips so I can budget accordingly to the best of my ability.
The other thing that helps me stay as emotionally and mentally strong as I can is that I have faith that as long as I put in the work, I'll be fine. In other words, focusing on what I can control is where I find peace and my way of dealing with the highs and lows in my monthly sales.
CEO and Owner at William Joseph Communications
Stay focused. When things are going good it is easy to stay focused on your goals. Sales are coming in. Cashflow is abundant. Targets being met. Life is good.
When sales are low and cashflow is tight you sometimes can’t help but panic. Is this the new norm? Knee jerk reactions can happen to stop spending on all perceived non-critical activities such as marketing, training, and community investment.
The goal is to stay focused.
Does your business follow a cycle where the ups and downs are normal? If so don’t panic. But, if you notice after a quarter this is more than an off month, it is a perfect time to regroup and refocus. Has the industry changed? Do you need to alter your brand and marketing plan to attract new clients and new markets? As a business owner, I always have to keep an eye on sales and adjust activities to support growth.
Business Development Manager at Olearis
It's only hard when you start. You don't know how the sales will work in this new team and if the boss will have enough patience for first results. Mostly because I concentrate on bigger projects rather than work on many small ones. Plus when you get a feeling that your work is valuable, you put all your shit together and work as a champ. Nothing motivates more than that.
When your work gives results, you are respected for those results and you work hard and smart, not just sit for 8 hours in the office.
When you have many meetings going on regularly, you have no time to be low or unmotivated. But if you get to this trap, my advice is to watch some motivational video of Gary V or Grant Cardone or Steli or Alec Baldwin speech in Glengarry Glen Ross or whatever spirits you up and get to work. Turn on your best music in headphones and write until you get calls scheduled, then call until you get a result.
Founder and Design Director, Carter Hales Design Lab
The business of branding and website design is surprisingly seasonal. And always predictable. January, February, July & August typically are the softest months. Our busy months are the remaining eight. We know this going in though and adjust our sales expectations accordingly.
We look at YTD earnings and YTD P&L reports each month to gauge where we are comparatively to the previous 3 years. The funny thing is that regardless of where our numbers are at my 'spidey sense' is typically ahead of the reports. Not sure if that is instinct, fear, bravado, stupidity or what, but I have learned to rely on it and find peace with it.
Realtor at Realty ONE Group Arizona | Linkedin
With real estate it is really hard to count on anything so typically I set an annual goal for myself. In order to achieve this I make sure to keep my online and social media presence consistent.
I can typically tell if I have not been doing as good of job because my referrals dip and my activity slows. I have been in long enough that the bulk of my business comes from personal referrals but I also Partner with Redfin so when I need to bump my numbers up I accept more leads from this source as well.
Real Estate is totally feast or famine so in order to not starve I just pack my pipeline and make sure everyone in my sphere of influence knows I am here to help them with their home needs.
President at Adaptis Mobile Inc.
1) persistence: everyone I busy but if you don't stay on top of others and yourself things start to fall by the wayside.
2) doing the right things: focusing on the small tasks and habits that turn into results (most of the time). It's easy to get run down and good habits help me keep my head above water.
Business Development Director at APF Software Solutions
As for our business cycles they can tend to be pretty all over the place. We always plan to hit our targets however, technical difficulties, emergencies and, competition usually eats away at our margins. We try to think of as many factors that affect our targets and plan accordingly.
However, more often than not we find our selves having to think on our feet to find a way out of a bad situation. I find that we need to have a good mixture of planning with room to maneuver. Past projects, we saw thing fall apart pretty quickly if everything is planned with no room. While vice versa we found that not enough planning results in a fruitless endeavor.
Realtor at Re/Max Real Estate
Real Estate is a volatile business, and plenty of patience is required through its highs and lows. Maintaining a healthy level of sanity and finding equilibrium can be difficult at times.
Real Estate is a seasonal business. Even though 100% of my business is referral based, the summer and winter months can be much quieter and less productive. I use these quiet trading times to do more face-to-face and online networking, to remind my clients that I am always open for more business and that I would be happy to serve anyone they can refer, and to follow up on any new leads.
Managing the highs means we continue looking for new opportunities. Maintain the process that got us to the high. When we hit the low, managing and continuing to the next high is the only path forward.
It’s imperative to control your mindset and thoughts in the face of adversity. As a salesperson, it’s important to have the ability to stay positive and motivate yourself. I pump positivity into my daily routine. Listening to inspirational podcasts or reading motivational quotes can help get me back on track after a setback.
Other Tips to Survive Business Highs and Lows (because a balanced and stress-free life is important to me J) that I came across in one of my ongoing self improvement and business development reads:
1. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Your journey to success will teach you much. The joys will enhance your life and the disappointments will strengthen you – if you let them.
2. Learn how to handle the highs and lows of being in business and don’t let anything be a roadblock to your destination – success. Don’t stop doing what you need to do to get there. Clear the negative thoughts or they will destroy you.
3. Don’t hide behind a desk caught up in social media. You need to meet people face-to-face. Include traditional marketing strategies, too.
4. Personality has a lot to do with getting a sale. Are you upbeat, knowledgeable, prepared and organized? Have you perfected your sales pitch so it’s delivered naturally? Are you friendly and not aggressive?
6. Don’t let a bad client ruin your attitude. Learn what not to deal with, the next time.
7. Take a serious look at your marketing strategies and determine what’s not working. Are you really building relationships through networking by keeping in contact with those you meet? Are you following up on leads and referrals?
8. Make sure you are staying in contact with your customers so they don’t forget you. Call them to see how they are doing; send them your monthly newsletter. Mention a referral gift for those who bring business your way.
9. Ensure that your life is balanced. Schedule some time to spend with family and friends. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle work.
10. Start your day on a positive note. Read something motivational every day. Make it part of your routine. People love being in the company of those who are positive. It’s magnetic and very valuable for your business!
Founder + CEO at Alpen Animation
July and August are relatively quite months as most of our customers' teams are incomplete due to holiday season and therefore less decisions seem to be made.
This means, that our sales drop by up to 50% during such months. We then check the offers we have made this year and give special discounts for any order passed let's say until first week of August. We clearly mention that we give this discounts only to fill our capacities in production.
Also, we increase our sales efforts, i.e. we prospect more.
Freelance CD/AD + Design,
To answer your question, as I am the sole proprietor of my business and treading the line of freelance hired gun, nomadic creative director and artist, I don't have monthly projections or yearly sales goals in the traditional sense of the word. My sales goals (both yearly and monthly) are experiences, different opportunities and projects that stoke the interest of my brain and, in turn, my soul.
The ability to be so flexible is afforded by very minimal overhead, a roaming home base and a steady, trusted retainer of clients that allow me to jump in and out of their businesses, globally, as needed.
Therefore, in a sense, my yearly and monthly goals aren't interpreted as highs/lows, but rather as "how much can I explore" or "what are the limits to my exploration" throughout the year.
President and CEO at zag creative
I think bottom line you need to plan for it. Planning makes perfect and being able to adapt is key.
You can’t predict the economy or the unforeseen.
We like to take a look and adjust for the different types of businesses and clients that we are prospecting for to round out our year.
President at Pain Point IT Solutions Inc.
A Managed IT Services and Consultation Company | Alignable
The key for me being prepared for the low cycle(s) are to have residual services in place that benefit my client whether it be service contracts or routine services that I perform monthly, quarterly, or yearly for them.
On those months when sales are outpacing my ability to perform the high quality service or product my client base deserves, it's time to roll up my sleeves and put in the overtime needed to deliver; but not to panic and over-hire or over-stock until I see the same pattern for several months as highs and lows are tough to predict.
President at The DuncanAfrica Society
I'm the last one to offer advice, especially to peers who have had any degree of success, but I would say that we have learned to only buy what we can afford - essentially not using credit.
Grow when it's possible and pinch pennies when there are pennies left to pinch. Focus on the one thing you do, and don't be afraid to tell people about it, just muster up the passion that got you into it in the first place and go.
Last thing is timelines. I'm no good at timelines - I don't know when to quit. Most people quit too soon - if you're passionate about your business, hang in there - business like life, is a journey. Enjoy the good times and grit your teeth in the bad. Learn to persevere, you never know what the Lord has in store, maybe right around the corner..
Owner and Chief Creative Officer at Ty Bowers Design
I'm my own sales rep and I'm the CCO of my company. I've recently determined, after many years of the relentless pursuit of growth, that I'm satisfied with achieving results for a few great customers. Quality of service and design over the quantity of either. My abilities and experience range from product and brand naming, brand development, creative direction, corporate identity and even product design.
I'm basically a one man shop with a cast of free-lance professionals available when I need them. I've moved from maintaining uber-slick, full staffed design studio space to downsizing to the essential support structure I need. I've discovered that it's important to see my clients in person to understand the design needs for a specific project. I am in their offices at least one day a week to meet face-to-face.
I've found that over the course of my career the best way to reach and grow my monthly sales goals is to communicate with my customers on an almost daily basis about the status of their projects. Good, old-fashioned customer service and best-in-class design is the key to repeat business. The back-and-forth dialogue is worth as much as any push marketing I've done. Regardless of the obstacles that I am bound to be presented with, they trust I'm there for them and subsequently they refer me to new business prospects.
President at Storybox Creative
I am a story teller and content producer. I approach business like a farmer, I like to plant a variety of crops or shall we say different opportunities among different industries (to ensure a balanced harvest).
This helps me to be prepared for the ebb and flow of boom and bust recessions, dot com crashes and even Y2K catastrophes! In a farmers case, hail damage, tornados, hurricanes, lightning, fire, etc.. And just like a farmer, if I don’t plant enough crops, I don’t eat.
Even though it seems bleak at times the highs and lows will always be there monthly and at the end of the year. I set annual goals for new industries and opportunities every month and then I work my way backwards through the peaks and valleys of business. I try to Inspire my team and my clients to see the light at the end of the tunnel and end of the year rather than at the end of the month. By planting new crops (opportunities) every month I can reap the rewards of a balanced harvest every month.
"time and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future " -Walt Disney
Partner, Owner at SnoGlobe Communications
We're a two-person virtual shop that scales up with subcontractors as needed, based on what projects demand. And many times, we are subcontractors ourselves.
In this way, we've been able to weather many a recession. And a big part of weather-proofing our business was securing a very healthy line of credit.
You see, in my industry the lag between the beginning of a project and that magical time when you've billed the client and the money actually comes in can be months. So, we don't deal with a monthly cycle of sales.
We pay attention to it and we try to bill as soon as a project is complete - and sometimes we progress bill to make sure that AR is at a healthy level - but we're kind of forced to go with the flow.
We shake the trees as often as we can, connect with our colleagues and try to execute and bill as efficiently and as quickly as we can.
Now, as far as forecasting goes - we keep that loose as well. Why? We have to. There are no givens in our business. We can do everything right. We can have many long-standing relationships with our client (7 years, 14 years, 20 years) and still the economic realities tie client's hands, freeze budgets and in some cases create the impetus for reorganization - which ultimately has cut us out of their communications team equation.
As creative communications professionals we are in the business of creating custom tools that connect our clients with their audiences in meaningful and compelling ways.
We are connectors… gap fillers. When contraction of the economy and ultimately our marketplace happens, we try to see where things are going and retool our offering to fit the new gaps. Sometimes this means answering the budget question, "How much will it cost?" with "How much you got?"
That's how we deal with the lows.
We deal with the highs as best we can. Paying off credit products and setting money aside as best we can.
In our experience, business, like life in general, is a wave-form. Ups and downs are a reality and all you can do is to muster a bit of control over the amplitude and the frequency.
But not too much. You wouldn't want things to get too predictable.
Owner of James Murgatroyd Communications
As a sole proprietor, a lot of what I do is project based. I’ve been lucky that I’ve mostly been busy enough to maintain a good income, however when I’m short on cash or in a low sales period then I focus on existing customers and try and promote the retainer side of my business to fill in the gap.
I offer a 20% discount on my retainer if they pay for the full year in advance. As this is purely service base this gives me the opportunity to get cash up front in a low period and I’m not really loosing anything for a cost perspective and the client feels good as they are getting a discount.
Also in a no-sales sense during low work periods, I also focus on personal develop to enhance or update my skills so I can find new angle to sell my services on emerging design/development trends.
Owner & Designer, Downtown and Back Again
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I never stop networking. The person you met months ago at that business mixer could be your very next phone call. It takes people time to make a decision about moving forward once you’ve planted that seed.
I also reach out to past clients for referrals - people will always choose a recommendation made by a trusted colleague over going in cold to a new service provider.
Founder, CEO, Goldman Communications Inc.
A quick thought on this tells me one thing: We do not have a precise way of dealing with our monthly sales flow / cash projects. We utilize a home-made balance sheet projection that gives us an approximate idea of our payables and receivables; we use another rudimentary spreadsheet that tracks our pipeline of prospects.
Indeed, we do know where we stand in terms of our retainer clients, though even those can ebb, flow and end, which in the end leaves me a bit unfocused and uncertain in terms of projecting current and upcoming capital and labor expenses – hiring more people, getting more office space, etc. etc. In other words, we tend to focus on getting accounts first, and then making decisions on costs, outlays and budget for the company.
As a relatively new company, we do not actually have a great way of tracking, projecting and smoothing out our sales pipeline, though clearly we could benefit from something that would assist on that front.
Writer - Speaker at Eagle Summit Partners, LLC
We launch an occasional startup - some in tech and some in real estate development. Our businesses have different needs and factors that affect marketing, sales, revenue and operations. We model each one based upon their unique requirements and the models are constantly refined.
We use daily dashboards to monitor our progress and tweak marketing. We play around a little bit with growth and lease-up algorithms. We create redundant backups at different sites for safety. We’ve been pitched a few times on cloud computing but have never made the leap into the clouds. CRM might be one area we would consider, but prefer a unified, robust platform that we control.
Co Owner at Prairie Boys Supply Co.
How do you deal with the highs and lows in your monthly sales while making sure you hit your yearly goals?
When it comes to PBSCo we've been lucky enough to generate a steady flow of online sales to support us year round as we grow organically through our retail and distribution channels.
Having multiple sales channels is no different than having multiple streams of revenue. This is a must for any long term project.
We value our social growth as well, if our social media reach and engagement is growing we also see value in that.
For us Prairie Boys Supply Co. is a long term project, we do our best to enjoy and analyze the highs, while using the lows as motivation and time to create.
Territory Manager at Boundary Equipment Co. Ltd.
Spread hope to people: there are always success stories in bad times and hopeful people take action (and purchase) more than depressed people. Customers will want you to keep coming back if you can help them feel better.
Focus on what I can control and trust a good work will eventually yield good results.
Take the long view. Don't worry about short term results and work for future growth. If you survive the hard times, you may be one of the only ones left standing when the market recovers.
Work with excellence and develop yourself personally. Make yourself more valuable to the marketplace so that there is always a demand for you (even if your product is in low demand).
Focus on the positives: during hard times, it's easier to get in the door and more people are looking for new suppliers. Customers have more time and are more eager to find ways to save money or increase value.
Photographer at Bluefish
In short answer to your question is up until this last down turn in things the ups and downs haven’t been a big issue. But how I dealt with it was basically keeping costs low and pay off debt as quickly as possible so those stresses aren't in play.
I have found if I do that, then the rest takes care of it self. Its almost like the old saying if you watch the pennies.. (or I guess these days the nickels) the dollars with look after themselves.
Owner at Presto!Digital Colourgrade
Since film and video production can be a little bit like farming, the only strategy you can have is to map-out expenses and control them like a dog on a leash.
Unless you can attract a steady flow of clientele and rely on their payout in a timely fashion (collections monitored closely) then all other acquisitions, maintenance and day-to-day "join the line on the left."
Professional Photographer at Christy Dean Photography
I'm not really busy enough (work wise) to answer the question properly but I do find that biting my nails and stressing doesn't work.
Using the time that I would be fretting about a lack of jobs to apply for larger contracts or proposals makes more sense.
CEO at Karma Machining & Manufacturing
It is all about relationships… We currently sell a service. Contract manufacturing. We’re also listening and asking questions.
We recently did a magazine article: From idea to concept, prototype to production.
Real Estate | Growth | Coffee - Ben Kinney Team at Keller Williams
Two words: own property. I own a rental property that covers my largest monthly bills; my rent (that's right, I rent an apartment and then rent my house and garage) and my monthly utilities.
That stability allows me to stay focused on business growth as an agent rather than survival. I never worry about "how to deal with highs and lows" because I've already budgeted for it. When I exceed our budget, that goes towards our growing pot to by more property and to perpetuate the cycle of stable, passive monthly income.
Retired. Formerly Business Development at BDO Canada
Develop a process, stay focused on the process, and the numbers should take care of themselves.
As things always change, do a regular audit of your successes and failures, keeping track of statistics through the stages of the sales cycle, so that you can identify patterns and make adjustments to your process. A dynamic feedback loop, if you will.
Conceptualist - Invision Creative
After battling a difficult-to-manage sales pipeline and changes in the market, I recently scaled back my business. This process has allowed me to keep the clients with which I have a long history and strong relationship. Overall, my choice to change my business model has benefitted both sides of the client relationship. My clients can talk directly to me leading to better response times and improved communication resulting in a better product.
With fewer sales needed overall and better communication directly with the customer, I've found that I have more control over the sales pipeline enabling me to smooth it out while improving profit margins.
Agency Growth Coach, Mentor & Advisor
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I deal with the highs and lows by relating it to climbing a mountain. Sometimes to go higher, you have to find a path that goes down and then back up. It's about the journey and not the destination.
The destination will keep you moving, but I assume sometimes I will be going backwards or down. But at the end, it's all about the journey and doing my very best with what I have right now.
Bio: Jason Swenk is the agency advisor & mentor that guides marketing agencies through a proven framework for growing thei agency faster.
President, AVAC Ltd.
This is a major question and the failure to become a professional sales organization is the #1 cause for business failure or slow growth. The answer is too long to describe in a few sentences.
Dryrun can help you forecast and manage your sales pipeline right alongside your cash flow.
Learn more about how Dryrun can help you take control of your business and drive your growth. Chat us up online or schedule a no-hassle Q&A and training session.