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3 Steps to Help Break a Sales Slump By Eric Slife

Sales can be incredibly rewarding. But because your performance directly affects your compensation and often influences your self-worth, it can be extremely taxing. Chances are at some point in your career, you have experienced one or all of the following emotional and physical impacts of a sales slump.

You dread going to sales meetings because your low numbers are embarrassing.

Your thoughts continually drift to what else can possibly go wrong, and it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You are moody, you are distant, and you aren’t sleeping because you are so stressed.

Getting into a sales slump didn’t occur overnight, so don’t expect it to turn around in 24 hours. However, implementing the following three steps will not only help you break your slump, but it will also help you maintain more consistent numbers going forward.

1. Change your attitude
2. Focus on what you can control
3. Get a coach or accountability partner

Change Your Attitude

Changing a negative attitude isn’t as easy as it sounds. Unfortunately, when we get bogged down in a sales slump, the first thing we do is blame someone else: the economy, our company, our service, bad territory, etc. The first thing you must do is take ownership of your slump. This is actually great news because if your slump is truly out of your control, then you need to look for another job.

Once you take personal responsibility, then you need to truly believe it is possible to be successful. Look around your office. Do you see colleagues who are successful? If so, then you know it’s possible for you to also be successful.

You then must commit to your trade. Unfortunately, too many salespeople fall into one or two categories: they think they know it all, or they are lazy when it comes to improving themselves.

My guess is it’s because of the inherent independent nature of salespeople. The thought of asking someone for help or admitting we don’t know it all is somehow a sign of inferiority or weakness.

I recently had the privilege of working with an individual by the name of Peter. He routinely closes multimillion-dollar sales, and he is one of the sharpest salespeople I’ve met. You would think he was the one person who truly didn’t need additional help. But he did. He contacted us because he was looking to improve his performance via one-on-one sales coaching.

Another similar individual, Neil, for years has subscribed to our etraining program because he wants to make incremental improvements. Both Peter and Neil understand the value of investing time and money in their careers, which is why they are both top salespeople at their companies (each company has well over 100 salespeople).

Focus on What You Can Control

I am by no means suggesting that outside influences beyond your control can’t negatively impact your sales. However, they can be debilitating if you allow them to consume you. As a result, you can waste time with mundane tasks such as reorganizing your desk. That only results in digging an even deeper hole. To make matters worse, your prospects will sense your lack of confidence, and they won’t buy from someone who isn’t confident in their product, service, company, or even themselves.

Needless to say, it’s important that you shift your focus to break free from a sales slump. One of the best and most simple things you can do is a personal assessment. A personal assessment allows you to emotionally step back from your situation so you can take the necessary actions to move in a more productive direction. Here are some questions you should ask and honestly answer in your assessment:
What am I doing during selling hours that could be done at a different time?

With 75% or greater confidence, how many sales do I project I’ll close in the next 30, 60, and 90 days? How does that compare to my quota?
On average how many sales do I need to make quota?

How many appointments do I need for me to close enough deals to make quota?

What do I need to do and/or how much time do I need to set aside each day or week to ensure I get these appointments?

How much time do I spend at home watching television? What else could I be doing with my time?

In the last three months, what have I read or listened to that would improve my sales skills?

Why do I lose most of my sales and to whom do I lose most of my sales?

The reality is this list could go on and on. If you’re a sales manager, I strongly encourage you to conduct this assessment with every salesperson on your team.

Once you complete your assessment, don’t try to change everything overnight. Start by selecting three actions you can implement immediately.

If you’re honest with yourself, one of these three actions probably will be to prospect on a more consistent basis. If that is the case, make it a point to prospect at least one hour every day without any distractions. This could come in the form of asking your current clients for referrals, contacting past prospects, or making new calls. The bottom line is you need to be proactive. Again, the focus is on what you can control.
Get a Coach or Accountability Partner

I’m not suggesting you run out and spend thousands of dollars on a professional sales coach. Go to your sales manager or a respected colleague and simply ask if they will meet you for coffee every other week. Let them know you’re struggling and that you want them to help
keep you accountable.

Take this time to show them your activity for the past couple of weeks and your activity for the upcoming week. You should review:

– Each appointment you had for the week

– The actions you’ve taken to improve your selling skills

– Your calendar and how you utilized your time

– Any other area you want to focus on from your personal assessment

To be candid, this is the role of every sales manager. Not every sales manager understands this, or you may not feel comfortable discussing this with your manager. If that is the case, you need to be proactive in finding someone you respect and trust. Not only can your coach or accountability partner help you focus on the important tasks, but they can be a great source for support.

Finally, if you’re currently going through a sales slump, let me offer you this word of encouragement by sharing my story. The sales training industry, like many industries, was hit hard by the recent economy. Initially, I had an extremely negative reaction. I had to go through this very three-step process. Although I’m not content with our current growth, we’ve managed to positively turn things around, and we are excited about our future outlook.
Eric Slife is president of Slife Sales Training, Inc. They specialize in providing a comprehensive online sales training program that can be customized to fit a sales team’s specific needs regardless of size. Visit their website www.salestrainingcentral.com

– what was your biggest takeaway from the ideas above? What can you put into play starting now?

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