‘Almost all women undercharge for their services and more than 60% of female-owned businesses will fail by the three-year mark,’ writes Sara Dalrymple. Here, she shares tips for increasing sales, during a recession…
Words: Sara Dalrymple
In a world that hardly gives women permission to take up space, it takes a lot to set up a business and talk about it on the internet. I would wager there’s not much that feels more alien to a woman raised in the eighties and nineties than prancing about on social media and calling it work.
And yet, here we are.
As horrific a prospect as it seems at first, somewhere in those early stages of business you pluck up the courage to give it a go, put your face to camera and promote your products.
And, after months of telling yourself it won’t work, fearing the judgement of strangers – or worse – people you actually KNOW and putting it off, to be met with the crushing shame of crickets is often all the justification needed to cement what started as a hunch: you’re no good at selling.
What often starts with telling yourself you’re ‘not a natural salesperson’ can quickly escalate into a nasty inner monologue that pipes up with unsolicited tropes such as, “what makes you so special?”, “nobody’s going to pay that much” and “you’ll look like a greedy, sleazy, money-grabbing monster if you talk about your business in a cost of living crisis / while there’s a war going on”.
If you’re a business owner and you’re also female then chances are, you’ll be familiar with these thoughts. But they are toxic, limiting and exactly what the patriarchy is after.
Your business surviving is part of something huge and keeping it quiet, charging too little or giving up entirely simply won’t do.
Almost all women undercharge for their services and more than 60% of female-owned businesses will fail by the three-year mark. The top reasons for this are running out of money, low sales and confidence gap.
Bingo! See you later. Leave the money-making to the big boys. On your way, love.
But who does it actually help if you stop selling your products?
Does it benefit your buyers to have their options reduced?
Will existing clients get the best version of you if you’re sick with worry about whether you’re going to survive?
Is the exhaustion of feeling stressed about where your next clients are coming from absolutely necessary?
Allowing your business to fail isn’t going to help your clients, it won’t help you and it doesn’t make the world a better place.
What WILL benefit everyone, though, is more women growing businesses that are thriving: from the clients you help, to the local community you’ll spend your money improving, and the economy as a whole (to the tune of £250bn if the number of women-owned businesses reaches parity with those started by men).
Even though more women are starting businesses now than ever, we’re still only at 20%. There is more to do. Your business surviving is part of something huge and keeping it quiet, charging too little or giving up entirely simply won’t do.
When it comes to selling sensitively, knowing what to focus on is key. Prioritise the following actions to enable more sales to come through more easily (even in a recession):
Lead with value
Your sales activity is there to make a buying decision yes or no as easy as possible for your client to make. It isn’t about having a huge audience, being pushy or shouting the loudest – it’s about showing your existing audience their choices, and explaining how each one solves a problem, need or aspiration.
The first thing your audience needs to know is “what’s in it for me?”.
It’s crucial you state this often and don’t assume it’s obvious: explain the exact themes and topics your product exists to help with. Be as specific as you can: what is the precise result your client is craving and how does this product make achieving that outcome more likely?
Share case studies, personal experience and the intention you have for each client you work with. Repetition shows your client you understand the situation they are in and where they want to go next, which builds curiosity to find out more about the solutions you have available.
Meet current needs
Does your product suite mirror current needs? Are your offers accessible in the current climate? Can you split out larger offerings into more targeted support in smaller areas? Not everybody will want a high ticket offer or to spend six months working 1:1 in a downturn (although some will).
Practice, practice, practice!
If sales are low, chances are it’s this simple: you’re not talking about your products enough, your client doesn’t yet see the value or it’s not obvious how to buy from you.
The more comfortable you can get taking small actions each day, the easier it becomes for your clients to understand all three points. And there’s never been a better time to start than right now.
If sales confidence is holding you back, now’s the time to recommit to taking daily sales action in a way that feels good. It all starts with knowing where to start and making the commitment to show up.
Are people still buying – of course they are! Are they buying from you? Well, that’s up to you.
Want more tips for how to beat the recession, as a small business owner?
You might like The Robora’s online course: Move with the times: How to keep growing your business through a recession – just £19.99.