How To Get Out Of A Sales Slump

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

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We hear the term “Sales Slump” all the time on our Sales Training Courses. Salespeople rock up to our courses either to improve their skills or because they are in trouble with their sales figures.

What’s your definition of a sales slump?

Most salespeople refer to a sales slump as that time when sales slowdown, their sales funnel is empty and business slips into a quagmire. The main thing is that most salespeople relate a sales slump and its cause to unfortunate circumstances, usually beyond the salesperson’s control.

It’s not their fault. I mean, no one gets into a slump deliberately, right?

To that common definition of a sales slump, I don’t necessarily agree with it.

Are there times when your sales may drop off? Yes.

However, it is not due to unfortunate or even unforeseen circumstances in the main unless it’s a pandemic of course!

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Sales Slump Tips

Let’s take a closer look at how to get out of a sales slump with some sales slump tips. A word of warning here. Most of the time it’s because of something that you are doing. Or lack of!

Inconsistent Sales Approach

The primary reason you see sales fall off in what salespeople commonly call a slump, is due to an inconsistency in work ethic and a lack of understanding in the science of selling.

As an example, a salesperson has a target of £1,000 in sales per week. They have a 20% closing average. However, since each sale is £200, they set a goal to close 5 sales, and here is what typically happens that coming week:

Monday

They complete 3 presentations and close 2 of them. £400 in sales.

Tuesday

With referrals from Monday, they do 2 presentations and closes both! £400 in sales.

Just 2 days into the week and they have £800 out of the £1,000 target already.

Wednesday

They complete 4 presentations and closes 2 of them. Another £400.

Thursday

They sell nothing and because they have already reached their goal for the week, they spend the day doing paperwork and general administration

Friday

They complete 1 presentation with 1 sale. Another £200. They have an early pack up for the day for a well-deserved early weekend.

Our superstar salesperson closed 7 sales instead of 5 and the total amount of sales was £1,400 instead of a target of £1,000. They are ecstatic and feels they have a great month ahead for the next 3 weeks.

What’s the Problem?

The problem is that this salesperson performed only 10 sales presentations and they closed 7 sales.

The problem with that is that 7 out of 10 is a 70% closing average.

Their normal average is 20% or 1 out of 5.

With a 20% closing average, they should have completed 25 presentations to make 5 sales.

They should have done 25, but they only did 10. They owed another 15 sales presentations.

What do you think is going to happen next week?

The Law Of Sales Averages

The “law of averages,” is a law and it will come true.

If you flip a coin 100 times, it may land on heads 15 times in a row, but when it is all over, it will come out very near to 50 heads and 50 tails. Our salesperson’s 20% closing average is going to come back with a vengeance!

Let’s look at what happens to the salesperson the week after.

Still riding on the high of last week, our hero sets a goal to make £1,400 again this week with 7 sales.

Monday

Does 4 presentations, sells 1. £200.

Tuesday

Does 3 presentations, no sale.

Wednesday

Works very hard and gets in 5 presentations and sells 1. £200.

Thursday

Getting desperate, they get out there and does 5 more and sells 1. £200.

Friday

They begin to feel that they are doing something wrong, different from the previous week. So they alter their sales presentation on the next 4 calls, and sells none!

This salesperson now begins to say, “I’m in a sales slump!”

The fact is that they are exactly where they put themself. They are in the exact situation they created. This is not a slump. For this salesperson to hit £1,000 per week in sales, they need to do 25 sales presentations every week, week in and week out, regardless of how many sales they close. Instead, they are experiencing the results of the sales process for which they invested.

In A Slump? Analyse Your Sales Activity First

Many salespeople look for a magic bullet on how to get out of a sales slump. The answer is much closer to home. Just as the lack of work ethic will come back to haunt you, so will a consistent input of positive sales activity. When you consistently do the proper number of sales closes, phone calls and other sales actions, you will still occasionally have a period of a few “no-sales” in a row. However, that too is part of the process and not a slump, as you can count on closing several sales in row to even up the averages.

We’ll look at staying motivated in the next section, but my best sales slump tip is to be consistent with the number of sales calls, sales interactions and other foundational sales activities and erase the word slump from your vocabulary. Some salesperson become complacent and don’t ask as many as sales questions as they normally do or don’t do their sales follow up because they are ahead of the game. Don’t do this. Watch your averages and do not allow your work ethic to lag when you have a good selling week.

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Sales Slump Motivation

It happens to us all.

Even though you are doing the same things that you were doing when sales were up, you enter that phase where nothing closes, no-one wants to talk to you and the competition start taking over.

It can be enough to drive you to despair.

But it needn’t.

Here are some tips that will improve your sales slump motivation and drive when things aren’t going according to plan.

1. Remember that ‘motivation’ is temporary

It isn’t all-pervasive and permanent. It doesn’t define you as a person; it is always a short-term issue, as sales cycles come and go.
You need to decide what caused the slow slide into demotivation and determine to understand that ‘motivation’ simply means ‘motive for action’.

You need to understand it’s your motives that need to change before your actions follow.

Without good motives driving you forward, you simply won’t take the necessary action to get anywhere.

2. Identify what you can control and what you can’t

This means concentrating on what you can do about the slump, rather than whining about what you can’t.

You can’t control the weather, the economy, industry legislation or competitive offers.

All you can control is your response to these issues.

Keep things within your ‘circle of control’ rather than areas that you have little chance of changing.

3. Set short-term, achievable goals

Think of these as milestones on the journey back to success.

Your overall goal may be to achieve your campaign target in three months’ time.

That’s necessary to keep in mind, but if you set weekly targets for yourself, you have achievable and visible tasks that can be done to reach forward.

If you’re successful and achieve that milestone at the end of the week, it gives you the impetus to rally forward to the next week.

4. Keep learning new ideas

You tend to become more introspective when things aren’t going quite right, and you lose the ability to see the big sales picture.

I know it’s easier said than done, but this is exactly the time when you need to widen out, seek ideas from other successful people and keep your spirits up by reading and listening to people successful in sales.

When you find out what they have done specifically to get themselves out of a slump, you start to create the motives for the actions that will take you forward.

5. Don’t over-analyse. Keep it simple

You don’t need to dissect every sales meeting you’ve had recently or analyse every conversation you’ve had; instead, start contemplating what you can do in the future.

Yes, learn lessons from the past, but treat the past like a school, not something you live in.

6. Start each day positively

One of my inspirational speakers is Tony Robbins, and he advocates starting each day with questions like ‘What am I proud of about myself?’ and ‘What skillsets do I have?’.

If your instant answers are ‘Nothing!’ and ‘None!’ rephrase the questions to ‘What could I be proud of about myself?’ and ‘What skillsets would I like to have?’

These questions get you to start thinking in a more positive, action-oriented way, rather than depressing yourself even further.

7. Forget your failures and concentrate on your successes

I remember hearing Michael Jordan say once that “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

You’ll only succeed if you concentrate on what must happen for you to achieve, rather than focusing on what’s constantly going wrong.

Each of these 7 ways will help you achieve your goal of improved self-motivation, but only if they are practised and actioned.

It takes high moral fibre to build your confidence when things are going badly for you.

Although not always easy, raising yourself up by following these tips will do wonders for your confidence and will help you with your sales slump motivation.

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Sales Slump Approach

“But I’m doing everything the same Sean and my figures are awful, I’m in a sales slump – help!”

Remember, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re in a slump when you’re not.

Sometimes it’s just the simple law of averages catching up with you.

Make sure you analyse your figures closely. Understand the dynamics of your business so when you get the “highs” and the “lows” you understand what it means. Make sure you don’t knee jerk into changing your methods when there is no need.

“It is what it is…” is sometimes all you can say when it looks like nothing is working.

Suddenly, you can’t seem to close, leads have dried up and you don’t know what is going to happen next.

This stinking thinking is usually followed by radical changes to your sales presentation. When that does not work after several changes, panic sets in, desperation begins to take hold and it’s all over.

When this scenario happens, I can virtually guarantee that the salesperson was short on their numbers and sales activity ratios. Or, that if they just continued, without making any changes, that there were a lot of sales waiting just around the corner. However, let’s face it, sometimes you need a bit more than a friendly voice or a cool blog telling you to just hang in there and that everything will work out.

A Vicious Sales Circle

The problem though, is that once you get to the above state of mind, you are looking at everything too emotionally. It is true that perhaps you may be doing something wrong in your presentation or sales close. But when your mind is this screwed up, you won’t be able to recognise or correct the issue anyway.

You make changes, but still doubt. The doubt surfaces as fear, which turns into desperation. The more you fear and become desperate, the harder it is to close. The harder it is to close and ask for the order, the more you doubt and fear.

You must take measures to remove the emotion, get your head back in the game and regain some level of confidence. Try these sales slump tips.

Up The Ante

First, consider your sales numbers and determine the average amount of sales interactions that should be completed in a day, week, or month, and then raise that figure by 25%. For instance, let us assume that in your business, a salesperson should complete 20 sales interactions in a week. Raise the number for yourself to 25 interactions.

The Goal

Your goal then becomes a mission to complete 25 interactions. Do not even think about selling or who bought, who did not buy or why. Just compete 25 interactions and pay no attention to anything else. Act as if you will receive a bonus simply for completing the 25 presentations.

Thanks For Your Time

In doing this, you want to be ready to walk out of the door on any and every prospect. I am not saying that as soon as the prospect says NO once, you should leave. Go about your normal way of overcoming sales objections, but keep in mind that you really don’t care if they buy or not. Your goal is to hit the 25 interactions and that’s it. If your sales presentation calls for you to ask for the order three times, then on that third ask, be prepared to say, “Thanks for your time” and leave. No questions. No reasoning. No care.

No Discounts

Also, during this time, maintain your pricing. If you have some small discount built into the close, ok. But do not give away your shirt. Be prepared to leave with the price high.

The Result

A lot happens when you do something like this. First, the sheer numbers will likely get you back on track by themselves. But the “I don’t need the sale” sales mindset will do wonders for you.

If you can maintain the number of closing attempts plus show no desperation or need for the sale, things will come back around. You will also find that when you do something like this, you will sell at higher prices and close bigger sales.

This works. Be careful though. Once you got things back on track, you may want to maintain this persona and working habits. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Have you ever taken any training with us? Please check out our Selling Skills Training open course. It will train you in the habits and techniques that you need so your pipeline will always be full, and the term sales slump will never crop up again.

Happy Selling

Sean

Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

Sales DNA

Originally published: 21 November, 2021



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