A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about what to do if sales are slow or down. Since then, things have not gotten much better. I have to agree with what people are saying. Yes, as far as I can see, things have slowed down in terms of PCB sales. Not only here, but globally. We are all getting bombarded with solicitations from Asia, particularly Chinese manufacturers, an indication 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, again, people want to know, “What is going on?” Salespeople are calling me in a panic. Claiming they are trying everything, and they are just not getting the orders or in many cases in the opportunity to quote. They tell me that even their customers cannot explain the slow down.
All of this is puzzling, especially since last week at PCB West I heard people who track these things telling me that our global PCB market will be growing to 85 Billion dollars by 2025 from the $75 Billion where we are currently.
And nobody I talked to last week in Santa Clara could provide me with a good answer to the question. “What the Heck is going on?”
One thing that I do know for sure is that this will end, and things will get better. The most important thing is to stay, as they say, cool, calm, and collected and not panic. Keep doing what you have been doing, just more or it and with even more purpose.
So many of you have called me lately that I thought it was time that I address this issue again. In my column a few weeks ago I had listed some things you could do, and you can go back to that if you have not read it. But with so many of you still in quagmire mode, I have gone back to the drawing board to come up with some new ideas and suggestions.
Here are eleven 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. Identify 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 feedback. Find out if there are any issues with your boards, or with pricing, or 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 up 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 also can be about offering a 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 or 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. New ways of packaging your products with synergistic partners such as designers and assembly companies and offering a complete “from idea to reality” package that many customers are looking for.
In the end 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.