What To Do When the Sales Spigot Dries Up
What happens to your business when the best laid plans don’t pan out? You’re going along just fine, following the business blueprint that’s always worked to generate quarterly sales growth and, suddenly, the spigot dries up.
In Starbuck’s story, when customers had to choose between a $4 latte and a $4 gallon of gas, rush hour at the barista bar ended. Sales flatlined, and the chain shuttered 600 retails stores, eliminated 1,000 jobs and fired top management. Quite a shakeup, and the first one in its 35-year history.
We’ve seen similar shakeups in financial services, although it’s hard to feel sorry for the banking business which continues to follow the “bank for every soup pot” philosophy that claims every street corner.
What none of us knows is what the economic trickle-down effect of these colossal roller coaster highs then lows will be on the business and marketing plans of those of us with modest growth goals. For example, here in St. Louis, they’re actually holding a seminar called “Life After A-B” on how the InBev takeover of Anheuser-Busch will affect our local economy with massive numbers of my fellow citizens now out of a job. (It’s not all bad. My cousin bought A-B stock back in the ’40s for pennies a share.)
Robert B. Cialdini, PhD, in his foundational book, Influence, says one of the ways behavior is influenced is through social proof. When people are uncertain or when a situation is ambiguous, they are more likely to observe the behavior of others and to accept that behavior as correct. So a seminar on this topic is timely, certainly, but will it be instructional on how to make informed business decisions moving forward? Doubtful.
That’s because in any life crisis, the best offense is to dig in and re-ask the important questions, “What’s most important here?” and “What outcome do I really want to happen?” In business, those answers are usually found by focusing on what you can control, like talking with the customers in your database. Most of them are probably experiencing the same uncertainty you are, and sharing fears and aspirations fosters trust and confidence, another principle of Cialdini’s that he calls “Liking.”