A recent survey of sales managers identified the number one reason for sales turnover.
What is it? Sales slumps.
Sooner or later it happens to the best of salespeople: a sudden slump starts slowly and then snowballs. And if it lasts long enough, those salespeople will bail and find a job where they think they can actually make sales.
Here are tactics to help your salespeople break the dreaded sales slump – and help you retain them:
What it takes to break out of a sales slump
- Retrace your steps. Are you leaving anything out of your presentation that’s worked in the past? Maybe it’s a word or phrase, a transition you skipped or a step you omitted. Ask yourself if you’re stressing the same things, or are you including something that may be turning prospects off? Compare a call you made before the slump started to one you’re making now. Can you see or hear a difference between the two?
- Make contact. Selling, like football, is a contact sport. If you don’t stay in contact with your customers, your competitors will. Can you trace your slump to a period when you didn’t stay in touch with customers as much as you should’ve? Maintaining regular contact so you’re there when the customer is ready to buy is a great way to avoid slumps.
- Try to keep your confidence up. Confidence and morale are usually high when sales are good. When sales are harder to come by, it’s difficult for salespeople to stay upbeat. You’ve proven that you can sell in the past. Now it’s a matter of finding out what’s missing and getting back on track. Once your confidence is back up, your sales will probably follow.
- Set specific goals. It’s difficult to break out of a slump without setting specific goals. Try to make more calls or do more prospecting than you did before the slump hit.
- Plan each step. Salespeople who spell out the steps they’re taking to break the slump are more likely to get results than those who simply go back to the plan they used when things were good. The slump may have nothing to do with you or your sales techniques. A plan is not just a means of breaking out of a slump. It’s a process for learning from and building on the past, a confident way of knowing the steps you’re taking at the moment are actually in a forward direction.
- Never relax the tension. Some salespeople blame “burn-out” and “stress” as the major cause of slumps. But the truth is salespeople who keep up the pressure usually stay ahead of the pack. Never letting up may be the smartest way to avoid burn out, stress and slumps.
4 types of sales slumps
Some slumps happen because salespeople get so hung up on the effect they stop looking for the cause. If they spent more time looking for the cause, they may be able to break out of the slump earlier.
Here are four common types of slumps, what causes them and tips on how to overcome each:
- Attitude slumps. These usually result from the loss of belief in the product or service, or an inability to meet goals or giving in to high levels of stress. The best way to turn an attitude slump around is to pinpoint where and why belief was lost and then work on strategies for getting confidence back. It’s usually a good idea to review past successes to recapture the feelings that came with them. You can do whatever you put your mind to. Recognize that there will always be ups and downs in a sales career. Learn from your mistakes and stay focused in the present. Plan everything. Finish it. Then move on to the next thing.
- Prospecting slumps. Prospecting is a skill that most salespeople fail to master. When prospects dry up, some salespeople blame the economy, the products or simply bad luck. Prospecting is not about how many people you see, but how good a prospect each of them is. Be willing to try new and creative approaches to prospecting. Develop a regular routine for finding and meeting new prospects who can help you. Dig deeper to recognize which prospects are the best buyers. Prospecting slumps are best cured by going over prospecting calls and studying your techniques.
- Presentation slumps. These slumps are usually the result of poor communication, lack of product knowledge or poor listening. They may be solved by concentrating on customer needs and how they’re being addressed. Are you asking the right questions and continually moving the sale forward? Try to tailor each presentation to the prospect’s specific desires. Take a step back and review your entire presentation to see where it can be improved. Keep a checklist of every critical step. Ensure the prospect understands what’s in it for them. Try to always approach things from the prospect’s perspective.
- Closing slumps. Of all the slumps, this is usually the most frustrating. The salesperson gets all the way to the close, only to let it slip away. The two major causes are: A) Trying to close with a person who isn’t a decision maker, and B) not maintaining control throughout the presentation.