How to Turn Around Declining Sales

In this economy, no one should be surprised to see sales slump. The question is, what can you do?

First, understand why sales are down. Just like a boat that’s filling with water, the leak could be anywhere! Here are some areas to examine as you diagnose the problem.

* Circulation quantities — have you cut back?

* Response rates and orders — have they fallen across the board or just in some segments?

* Average order value — are you getting the same number of orders, but customers are spending less per order? If so, try offering a benefit if customers place an order that’s 50 percent greater than your average order.

* Lines per order — are customers ordering fewer items per order? If so, it’s time to come up with some cross-sell offers on customer-also-bought items.

* Units per order — if the problem is fewer units of a single item are being purchased, provide upsell offers such as “buy two, get one free” or “free shipping when you order by the case.”

* Median order value — if there’s been a drop in your median order, take a look at your national accounts or large order segment. Chances are, you’ll find the weakness there. If so, get those national account sales reps calling with order incentives.

What else can you do? Here are five tips to jump-start sluggish sales.

1. Offer a 24-hour sale via e-mail. Include your best offer to lapsed or older customers. You can justify a better offer for this segment because you’ll be reactivating a customer.

2. Try a private sale via e-mail. If your Web site has a “wish list” or “planned purchases” functionality, take the first item on everyone’s wish list and conduct a 24-hour sale.

3. Juice up those telesales offers. Give your reps targeted lists of customers who are due for reorders.

4. Increase your pay-per-click spend, particularly when your competitors’ catalogs are being received and more shoppers for your product line are likely to be searching online.

5. Change your mix of mail. Test mailing smaller catalogs or less expensive mail pieces to your online shoppers. Don’t cut circulation. In fact, increase it if possible by mailing different, less expensive pieces.

Good luck! Better times are ahead!

Terence Jukes is president of Ability Commerce, a 140-person firm that designs, builds and runs e-commerce and related marketing programs for catalog companies. He can be reached at

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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