7 Reasons Your Sales Are Hurting & How to Recover Revenue
If you’ve been in business any amount of time, you know there are times when sales are up and when they’re not.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
Sales are up. Performance is at an all-time high. And growth is, well… growing.
But all of a sudden (and seemingly without warning), it all starts to reverse. Sales start decreasing—then dropping faster!
You realize you’re losing revenue, clients, customers... Your pipeline, once full of leads, starts drying up.
The questions hit like a bucket of ice water:
- What went wrong? Why did my sales decrease?
- Is it just me? (It’s not, I’m hearing this from a number of founders, brands, owners on this topic lately…)
- And how can you recover from this drop in revenue?
To find the answers, you first need to approach the problem with a clear, logical, and open mind because you can fix your drop in sales.
You. Can. Fix. It. (I’m telling you from experience)
Today, I’m helping you recover from heart-stopping sales losses (or just the more normal, non-heart-stopping kind? lol) by identifying what went wrong.
Because in your business, you’re going to go through growth cycles.
And often, that will involve revenue peaking and then dropping at some point.
But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed.
Here's some of the lessons you’ll learn about why your sales are decreasing. Click on one to jump down to it:
- Sales Decrease Reason #2: This is the most in your control. Solve it and it helps you overcome most of the other potential causes.
- Sales Decrease Reason #4: “Succeeding too fast” can be deadly
- Sales Decrease Reason #6: This one is outside your control, but we’ll discuss how to adapt to it.
Let’s get into it.
Sales Decrease Reason #1: You Aren’t Keeping Up With New Marketing Trends
One of the top reasons you’re seeing a drop in sales is that you aren’t with the times.
Things move quickly in the world of online marketing and business in general.
If you don’t stop to take a look around every once in a while, you may miss what’s changed. (Ferris Bueler was apparently a marketing strategist, who knew?)
For instance, I’ve noticed in the past that adding video to our marketing is highly correlated with increased sales. And that trend seems only to be rising.
According to a sizable Wyzowl survey that’s done every year, video continues to be especially important these days in marketing.
A whopping 91% of businesses use it as a marketing tool.
In fact, marketers say video is responsible for increasing dwell time, traffic, leads, sales, and reduced support queries. And those numbers are higher than in any of the previous surveys since 2015.
Incredibly, 96% of businesses see video as an important part of their marketing strategy…
…and for a good reason. Ninety-two percent (an all-time high) of marketers said they get a good ROI on video content. That’s even up from 87% in 2022.
It’s especially notable that these trends are on the rise, showing that video is only becoming more important with each passing year.
Hearing an actual voice or seeing an explanation visually can make all the difference in understanding information and building trust.
According to BloggerIdeas.com, video results are 50 times more likely than text-based results to rank organically in Google. So if you’re not using it, you should be.
And what about artificial intelligence (AI)?
If you’ve been on X or LinkedIn in the last few months, you’ve probably been bombarded with posts about using AI:
- “Use this tool to increase your copywriting productivity tenfold.”
- “Use this tool to create AI-generated images.”
- “Here’s a list of prompts to get ChatGPT to do everything for your business.”
According to Zippia, about half of companies now use AI in some way.
However, a Forbes survey revealed that a quarter of businesses are concerned that AI will affect their website traffic.
According to the article, many of these concerns surround AI search and writing tools like ChatGPT. Businesses are concerned that people will go to ChatGPT for answers and not search the internet and click on their websites.
Other businesses are concerned about AI tools replacing humans for content creation. ChatGPT can write their marketing copy, and AI image generators like Midjouney can replace graphic artists.
While these problems might become more relevant in the future, AI isn’t quite at human-replacement levels yet. ChatGPT is a cool tool, but like any tool, it must be wielded by a human to produce effective results.
In my opinion, AI is in bubble territory. The hype surrounding AI on X and LinkedIn is just too massive. And the writing that ChatGPT produces sounds robotic and unemotional.
Video is just one of the thousands of changing trends in online marketing. If you want to be sure that your business is staying on top of these trends, be sure to stay up to date by subscribing to digital marketing thought leaders (like this blog!).
And don’t fall into the AI trap for content creation. AI is good for many things (productivity, ideation, streamlining processes, etc.) but not for marketing. Good marketing requires a human connection.
Everything ChatGPT spits out at least needs a human touch (which is one reason clients love AutoGrow, because it gives you an all-in-one marketing team of human pros).
Sales Decrease Reason #2: Your Marketing Has Changed and You Haven’t Kept Up (Kept it all “Aligned”)
While the last point discussed marketing changing around you (external), this one discusses what you have done (internal).
Was there something that you stopped doing as far as your marketing goes? Or was there a change in how you actually offer your product or service?
If so, this could be a key indicator of why your sales decreased lately.
Let me give you an example.
Maybe you’re a digital marketer offering full service for setting up your clients’ online ad campaigns.
Maybe there was a very specific need that you were helping them to meet. And to expand into a new market, maybe you stopped advertising that specific need.
You still offer the service, but now it isn’t at the forefront of your marketing.
This could be the source of your problem.
In fact, AutoGrow experienced a dip in sales a while ago because we were reframing our unique selling proposition (USP) in February of 2020.
While the temporary drop was expected, it was compounded by that whole pandemic / world economy shutting down thing…
Our revenue went down, down, down until we a record low in June 2020.
But, looking back, you can see… this “intense” drop in revenue, actually preceded our period of fastest growth.
What caused this change?
Well, we’d changed our core offer / USP. But we didn’t have all elements of our funnel “dialed-in” i.e. aligned with that core offer change (see: Law of Alignment here for more background)
Once we got it all lined up so everything in our sales funnel supported our updated USP / offer – growth skyrocketed as you can see.
If you saw a sales drop recently,
- Did you stop offering some sort of additional benefit that may have been more important to your audience than you expected?
- Did you change your core offer or how you present it?
- Did something else in your funnel change to move everything “out of alignment” with what it is you’re looking to sell?
Maybe you added an additional step in your funnel or introduced more friction (one of the 11 Laws of Sales Funnel Physics)?
Or maybe you have some zero multipliers killing your conversions.
Or it could be the funnel drift that we talked about earlier. This is what happened to AutoGrow in March of this year.
But thanks to the “11 Laws”, our/my knowledge of the causes for conversion growth, and our past experience we caught it fast and fixed it.
Simply being aware via good data tracking is the first step, a very valuable step at that…
The trick here is to be mindful of changes you make to your marketing and record the performance that these changes result in.
Take note of key performance indicators (KPIs) like the ones below to measure how effective an effort really is:
- Unique visitors per month
- Optin conversion rate
- Open rates
- Click rates
- Goal Completion Rate (GCR)
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Effort Score (CES)
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Sales Decrease Reason #3: There’s a Global Problem Affecting Your Business
This one’s easy, mostly because everyone will know when there’s a global problem going on.
For instance, “the R word” has been on everyone’s mind for the past year or so. Are we in a recession? Is a recession still coming? Are we having a “soft landing” and bypassing a recession? Have we made it through the recession?
No one seems to know.
In February of this year, the probability of a recession happening in the next 12 months was at 99%. So, we’re not out of the woods yet…
But that hasn’t stopped the idea of a recession from affecting your sales, has it?
Fear of a recession (or a recession itself) has stopped many people and businesses from spending money as freely as they’re used to. And this translates to less sales for businesses everywhere.
Oh, and don’t forget about inflation (which seems to be coming down a bit) and the war in Ukraine. These other fears and factors contribute to an overall economy where growth is tough to come by.
And in situations like this, it’s obvious that your decrease in sales is due mostly to this global problem.
There are two pieces of advice for this point.
First, be sure to stay on top of global trends that may impact your business.
The earlier you can predict these trends coming, the quicker you can enact measures that’ll help you bear the brunt of the impact it will have.
Second, be flexible.
When faced with a global change, sometimes the best way to stay afloat is by pivoting your business model and being open to something new.
In times of turmoil, rigidity is often the worst quality to have if you want to recover and get back to a healthy profit.
Sales Decrease Reason #4: You’re Scaling Too Fast
Okay, so you want to grow.
Doesn’t every business?
But the problem is, if you try to grow too fast, you can actually end up sinking your company faster than if you’d just stayed the course.
Scaling too quickly could mean you’re burning through cash you haven’t got back in sales yet.
Failory says about 75% of venture-backed companies fail because they try to scale too quickly.
Part of the problem is simply running out of money.
CB Insights found that 38% of startups just ran out of cash. And it’s the No. 1 reason startups fail.
But there are also more detailed logistical challenges here too.
While growth will definitely increase revenue, you also have to be able to keep up with demand.
And meeting that demand also requires:
- Sourcing more raw material for your products
- Hiring more employees
- Streamlining efficiencies so you can meet demand on time
- Maintaining product/service quality (and putting processes in place to check that quality)
- Changing your management structure
- Developing processes and systems
On top of all that, you also have to be sure that the market can actually bear your growth. Otherwise, you may just grow so much that you won’t have the customers to keep your doors open.
Here are some signs that you might be scaling too fast for your own good:
Be sure that if you are growing, you’re also maintaining all the quality and innovation that your customers have come to expect. Scaling too quickly can lead to serious problems and destroy your business’ credibility if you aren’t careful.
Sales Decrease Reason #5: Your Business Is Being Hurt by Negative Social Proof
Social proof is vital for marketing your business.
Testimonials, reviews, vanity stats—these should all be front and center on your website and featured heavily in your other marketing.
Plus, having great reviews on sites like Trustpilot can be great for business.
Now, the only problem with online reviews is that they can be just as devastating to your sales as they can be helpful (if not more).
Data from Invesp found that a whopping 86% of people who read a bad review for a business will hesitate to shop there.
On top of that, increasing your Yelp review by just one star is associated with as much as a 9% increase in sales, while a single negative review can be enough for your business to lose 30 customers.
Now, having a bad review can be particularly troublesome because many people actually seek out bad reviews.
According to PowerReviews, as many as 82% of customers do just that.
And in fact, perfect ratings are actually seen to be “too good to be true.”
In order to help you pump your sales and recover revenue from a negative review, it’s time to go into damage control mode.
Try reaching out to the unsatisfied customer to understand what the problem really was and see if you can fix it. This action can actually help you gain customers.
And if the customer is beyond being helped and their reasoning is warranted, either sincerely apologize or offer some sort of discount or gift.
This action will not only open up the door to them taking the review down, but it will also help those reading the replies on sites like Yelp see that you really are interested in helping your clients.
Either way, the worst method of dealing with negative reviews is to say nothing at all.
Be sure to always ask for good reviews from satisfied customers.
But if you do notice that you have negative reviews on sites like Trustpilot, be sure to always reach out to the reviewer to see if there’s something you can do to make it right.
You can always turn a bad review into a marketing win.
Think coupons, future discounts, or even refunds.
And as always, be sincere with your communication. A fake apology can actually end up doing more harm than good if you’re not careful.
Sales Decrease Reason #6: Your Main Marketing Channel or Sales Platform Has Changed Its Algorithm
An algorithm change can be disastrous if not caught early on.
Most businesses today are found using Google. (Though a whopping 91% of content isn’t found at all because most people click on the first-page search results.)
Google has a ridiculously high market share of internet searches: 93% (and even higher on mobile at 96%).
So when a major platform like Google changes its algorithm on how it ranks search results, it can be extremely damaging to your sales.
As you can see from the tracking charts below, website traffic (and sales) go way down when Google makes an update.
And we at AutoGrow are no strangers to feeling the effect of large-scale algorithm changes.
For example, a few years back, we were making about $1,700 a month from the evergreen launch of one of our products. But after a few months, that revenue went down to almost zero.
We only saw a trickle of sales coming for it.
For two or three months, it was growing … and then nothing.
We thought maybe it was the landing page. Maybe images weren’t displaying right on mobile and on Macs. But fixing it didn’t move the needle at all.
When we uncovered the issue with the evergreen funnel not working, we also noticed that the number of opens had decreased significantly.
(Quick FYI: If you want to learn more about successful funnels, check out our Sales Funnel Diagram Pack.)
So that meant that our emails were probably going into the promotions folder instead of the inbox (not good).
But since we hadn’t changed anything with the format of our emails, we determined that the problem was actually Gmail changing its algorithm on what it considers promotional content.
We’ve since changed our format so we’re able to deliver solid content to the people that want it—after all, they did opt in for it.
One way we did that was by avoiding spam trigger words (a powerful “email hack”) like “buy,” “discount,” “cash,” and “free trial.”
And in the years since, we’ve only seen incredible growth in our email list (over 22,000 and growing!).
The other algorithm issue is with AI content. (Yes, AI again.)
Google has said and maintained that it does not penalize AI-generated content. Below is a screenshot from the Google Search Central blog.
What this means is that Google (as of this writing) will not lower your page ranking based on the fact it was AI written alone.
However, AI-generated content generally lacks depth, character, humanity, nuance, experience, and a sense of time.
So if you’re relying on AI-generated content for your business, it better be the best AI-generated content out there. Otherwise, Google will read it, say it’s generic, repetitive, and doesn’t answer what customers want, and rank it lower.
When your website ranks lower, people can’t find your business. Then your organic traffic goes down. When your organic traffic goes down, your sales go down.
It’s best to steer clear of using entirely AI-created content.
Here’s what a Google spokesperson had to say about it:
Here’s what John Mueller, Google’s senior search analyst and search relations team lead, said about blindly copying and pasting AI content into your marketing materials or website.
So what’s the answer?
If you don’t want your sales to drop off from Google updates, simply give Google what it wants. And Google wants its customers to find what they are looking for in the shortest possible time.
The way Google decides what content to rank higher for its customers is the EEAT formula:
- E — Experience: You must demonstrate firsthand experience with the subject matter.
- E — Expertise: The more knowledge, qualifications, and credentials you have, the higher Google will rank your content.
- A — Authority: Refers to your reputation in your industry. Are you an influencer or an expert?
- T — Trustworthiness: The most important aspect of EEAT. “Quality Raters” take the creator, content, and website into account and judge if you are trustworthy or not.
Always be aware of changes to foundational systems like Google and Amazon. These platforms regularly change their algorithms, and not staying on top of these changes can cause serious harm to your business.
Use AI as a tool and not as a replacement for human writers. As John Mueller said, you know your target audience better than any tool. Focus on providing EEAT to your customers at all costs.
Sales Decrease Reason #7: New Hires Aren’t Up to Par
We know… hiring is a hassle.
SHRM found that, on average, it takes about 24 days to find a candidate that you think is a good fit for the job.
On top of that, it can take as long as eight months (yeah, seriously) for an employee to ramp up to full productivity potential, according to Harvard Business Review.
And when all is said and done, Tekshapers reports that replacing an employee costs about 21% of their annual salary.
Hiring sucks. And it’s expensive.
In fact, it’s exactly why we’ve positioned AutoGrow as a way to get digital marketing done without the headaches and high costs of hiring.
But as pricey as hiring and firing can be, the worse scenario is keeping on an employee that isn’t performing as they should.
On the one hand, some employees show up at work but simply don’t do the job they’re supposed to.
These are called “actively disengaged employees” or “quiet quitters.” And according to Gallup, they cost the U.S. $8.8 trillion annually.
Additionally, disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability.
Turned into a dollar amount, a disengaged employee will typically cost a business about 34% of that employee’s annual salary.
Gallup reports that employee engagement was actually on the rise in 2019. However, it obviously dropped during the COVID-19 crisis, but has then picked up again since 2022. Employee engagement is at a record high of 23%.
But to make your team as productive as possible, the best measure you can take is to hire the right people first.
And if you don’t, then run your business according to the old saying, “Hire slow, fire fast.”
Because as we saw, a poor employee can actually cost your business about 1/3 of what you’re paying them.
Hire the right people on the first go around.
This, of course, can be tough to do.
But in most cases, spending a lot of extra time on hiring the right candidates can actually save you money in the end.
As a result, be sure to really test out potential candidates before giving them the job. Conduct several rounds of interviews. Check references. Request skill tests.
And always be sure they’re a fit for your company culture too.
So there you have it!
These are the top seven most likely reasons behind your sales decrease recently:
- Sales Decrease Reason #1: Ensure you keep up with the trends and follow the ones that suit your business.
- Sales Decrease Reason #2: Use KPIs to fix any internal marketing mistakes that you may have made.
- Sales Decrease Reason #3: Sometimes external factors affect your sales.
- Sales Decrease Reason #4: Ensure you are scaling — but not scaling too fast.
- Sales Decrease Reason #5: Attempt to fix any negative social proof on your website or social media.
- Sales Decrease Reason #6: Be aware if Google or your main marketing platform gets an update (focus on EEAT and you should be good.)
- Sales Decrease Reason #7: Your sales drop could be from having hiring headaches.
And if you follow the takeaways outlined in each, I’m sure you can help plug that leak in your sales and start to recover the revenue lost along the way.
Now, if you want more help uncovering things that are leaking money and bleeding leads in your sales funnel and on your website, check out our Proven Sales Conversion Pack.
And of course, you can always sign up for one of our monthly packages (just $7 to try us out for seven days), and we’ll do all the heavy lifting of getting your sales back on track for you.
So, which of these reasons do you think is responsible for your sales decrease? And what are you going to do about it now that you know what the problem is?
Be sure to let me know in the comments below.
Keep AutoGrowin’, stay focused.