3 Long-Term Sales Strategies for the Firearms Industry

Gun sales ebb and flow based on the political winds. How do you plan for your tactical business long-term with so many short-term fluctuations?

3 Long-Term Sales Strategies for the Firearms Industry

From a sales perspective, the firearms industry can be tough to navigate. We manufacture and sell products and services for the defense or protection of life and property — a need derived from the reality that there is evil in the world that needs to be stopped. Further, our industry’s sales figures spike when there’s a significant threat (perceived or real) to our well-being or our freedoms. The threat may come from the election of a political figure, a proposed change to legislation, or even as the result of a terrible event where people were harmed intentionally by others.

In any case, the causes and effects at times are both predictable and unpredictable. Predictable because at least every four years in the United States of America there’s a national election of a President — not to mention other years where there are elections of those who might serve in the U.S. Congress or Senate. Unpredictable because no one knows when a terrible event will occur that raises (again) the attention of Americans to the need for greater individual self-defense or improved policing.

It’s no surprise: Running a retail firearms related business in the 21st century — with all of the political rancor and the opportunities and challenges of social media and 24/7/365 news cycle — requires the right long-term sales strategies. Somehow, retailers like you need to know what and how far out to plan in order to succeed in an industry that seems, due to constant change, to allow only a short-term view or plan. It’s difficult, but not impossible. To get started, here are three long-term sales strategies for an industry mostly at the mercy of short-term causes and effects.


1. Identify and Communicate Your Core Values

And stick to them! Many recent books on business management and leadership recommend taking stock not merely of what you do for business but also of who you are and why you do what you do. You’re in business to make money, yes, but there’s probably more to the story than just that. Maybe your interest in this part of the firearms/tactical industry came about as a result of your or a family member’s involvement in the Armed Forces or law enforcement. Maybe this is just a personal hobby you decided to turn into a business. Maybe you’re a staunch defender of core American values and committed to a business that supports constitutional freedoms. Maybe it’s a combination of several of these items.

Further, your core values might include virtues such as a trust, integrity and honesty. There are probably many values that make up you as a person as well as your business. In any case, it’s a helpful sales strategy to occasionally take time to identify these things. To help identify yours, take an hour, a day or a weekend to answer questions such as these: “My business should always be known as...” (and complete this sentence with as many descriptors as you can — customer-focused, trustworthy, freedom-loving, etc.). Or, “My business will never be known as...” (and complete this sentence accordingly — underhanded, manipulative, etc.).

Once you’ve identified some core values, communicate and uphold them in some way. Create a written charter for your business and post this in your store or on your company’s website. Share the core values and discuss them at your next employee meeting. Recognize or reward an employee or a department or team for demonstrating a core value in some way. And, of course, be sure to ask customers how they think you’re doing in the values or virtues you’ve identified. In the end, whether sales are up or down, you and your customers will know what you’re about, why you’re in business, and what motivates you — values and virtues that transcend sales trends and provide to your employees and customers a long-term view of what’s important. Since people are caring more and more about this kind of organizational information, identifying and communicating core values will actually contribute to your company’s overall success by helping to draw customers who share those values.


2. Constantly Evaluate Your Short-Term Plans

Change as needed and communicate. One of the most difficult parts of running a business is not only knowing how to plan, but also knowing when to change the plan. The firearms/tactical industry provides a unique challenge in that it exists because of and depends on the reality of evil in the world. Historically, if things are generally more right in the nation or world, demand for the tools and services of a firearms/tactical business goes down. And if things are generally worse in the nation or world, demand goes up. Granted, we want everything to be as right as possible, but we also recognize the reality of that not always being the case. As you can see, this poses a unique challenge to a tactical retailer or business owner, especially as situations in many locations are constantly changing, which affects perceptions and demand and your bottom line.

From a business standpoint, we can be assured that there will always be evil in the world (as long as it exists in its current state) and therefore always a need for the tools and services to deal with it. Moreover, we can be assured that there will be pressures from politics and the occasional terrible event. So, while there’s a need to have a plan, your plan needs to be able to accommodate change. Some business experts talk of strategic plans vs. tactical plans. Strategic means long-term (18 months or more); tactical means short-term (18 months or less). Consider all the planning you’ve done in your business over the years. Which plans do you normally deem strategic, and which are tactical? Also consider what strategic plans you made that had to change in less than 18 months and what tactical plans you’ve made that have stayed consistent longer than 18 months. Identify real or perceived threats to your plans, especially new ones that have sprung up in the last year (e.g., a global pandemic). Of course, you can’t plan for everything, but you can plan for some things. Take time to brainstorm the questions and answers that give your business the ability to change quickly, if need be.

Some business questions based on recent events in the nation: What would my business do to survive and thrive if deliveries suddenly had to stop? ... if fewer or no customers could enter my storefront? ...if there were peaceful protesters, large-scale riots or angry mobs in the streets? ...if there were a surge in interest/customers/sales? ... if a legislative ruling negatively affected a product or service you offer? If you’ve thought through several of these scenarios, good. Also take time to think through how you would communicate these changes to employees and customers.


3. Remember B2B and B2C Is Always P2P

That is, people-to-people. Your business is likely one of two types: business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C). In other words, you primarily sell to other businesses or the end consumer. The business planning and strategies for each may be amazingly similar or vastly different — or some combination. In any case, what for sure is in common is that you are a person (or a group of persons) that deals with another person or a group of persons. In other words, you’re in the people business.

Old sales cliches state that all business is people business. Their point is that in business you have to keep in mind the human element — a person is trying to inform and eventually persuade another person to do something. This is one of those business principles that may be universally true. As such, as you identify and communicate core values and make and change plans, you always need to be cognizant of the human element. This goes for both sides of the business/customer relationship. So, think of your customers as fellow humans, remembering that they are someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, family or friend, and that each has a story, a background, and, if you’re communicating with them, a reason they’re interacting with you.

Likewise, be a fellow human as you promote your business. Be authentic, honest and willing to help them find a solution to whatever problem they’re looking to solve as a potential customer of your business. Let them ask as many questions as they want and see the value of the relationship independent from the value of the sale. Publish several means to establish contact with you and your business, put your staff pictures on your website, and reach out to customers regularly — just to check in and see how things are going.

Remember, we manufacture and sell products and services for the defense or protection of life and property — a need derived from the reality that there is evil in the world that needs to be stopped. That’s a value shared with our employees and customers, a worthy goal demanding we make plans and change plans as often as necessary, and one of the most pro-people, pro-human enterprises anyone can be engaged in.



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