A sales slump is a time in which a sales pipeline loses its momentum, leads slow down, or stop coming in altogether, opportunities that are already in play begin to stagnate, and deals that we were sure to win we either lose to a competitor or to a lack of decision-making readiness from the customer.
This can happen at any point of time (or times) during the lifetime of a business, yet when your sales activity slows down, of course, with it your sales results too, and today I share my Top Tips for getting out of a sales slump:
Face the facts
If you want to get out of a slump the first thing you must do is acknowledge that you are in fact in a slump. Avoid the temptation to spend too much time thinking about how you got there, yes, we are coming out of a global pandemic and we are living in unprecedented economic times - but that's only part of the challenge.
It may also be that you are tired, that you have overlooked the fundamentals and allowed your disciplines to slide… - it is okay!
Have a little grace
Every single successful person has hit a slump at some point in their career, anybody who tells you they have not is either lying or they have not been in this game awfully long.
Finding yourself in a slump, which is not the same as a rut, by the way, is not a sin or failing on your part and beating yourself up unnecessarily is as effective as pretending you are not in a slump at all.
The truth is you are going to need some energy to get out of the slump, beating yourself up mentally, and lamenting the time and the opportunities that are lost is going to diminish the limited energy that you have - and it is not going to help you to generate more energy and enthusiasm, is it?
Take a break
Being in a slump is not the same as taking a rest, instead of coming out of a slump refreshed we emerge exhausted because of the mounting mental pressure that we are exposed to in the line of duty.
I suggest setting aside a limited amount of time for you to rest, that may mean spending a day in bed - or even a weekend! Whatever you do, make sure that you get the rest you need, because you are going to need some energy to come out of the slump.
Note, however - this is not the same as allowing himself to wallow or have a pity party. This is a specific set of time that you put aside for yourself to simply take a few breaths, rest and reflect so that you are ready to come back stronger.
Where can you see the slump manifesting? Try looking beyond your sales process to include your personal life as well.
Have you neglected to look after yourself? Are you getting the rest that you need? Are you eating well? Have you given in to take out meals and evening wine?
Then looking at your sales process - are you reaching out to your customers frequently? Are you nurturing relationships outside of immediate opportunities? Are you staying in touch with the clients and colleagues you have contributed to your success thus far? It is often the case that when we are in a slump these activities are neglected.
Talk to someone
Share your experience with somebody that can understand. If you are fortunate enough to have a great sales leader speak to them, or if you have a trusted colleague that you admire you could share it with them?
Of course, if you are fortunate to have a significant other or a trusted friend to talk your challenges out with them, then utilize that avenue.
Make a plan
Now that you have acknowledged that you are in fact in a slump, you know that there is nothing to be ashamed of.
You have given yourself time to catch your breath and rest, you have come back with fresh eyes and looked at the set of challenges ahead of you, and you have talked it over with a trusted colleague or advisor that can help you to put this into perspective.
Now it is time for us to take some action to change our circumstances, to change our current trajectory…
Clean your room/office
To take a page from Jordan Peterson's book around cleaning one’s room, (well I think that Jordan may have taken a page from my mother’s book, actually!) there really is a lot to be said for organizing the physical space in which you are going to be working.
If you have been in a slump, your email inbox and your desktop probably reflect the situation. Take an afternoon to thoroughly clean out the space in which you work to toss out old and unnecessary artefacts that you have collected - create an environment that is clean, smells good, that is well lit and generally the kind of place you would like to work and be inspired to work in!
Get to it
Now, get yourself a clean notebook and a pen, and begin to brain dump all the activities that you could be doing (work-related) on to the page.
There is nothing too big or too small. note down every email that you need to send, every message that needs to be responded to, every proposal document that needs to be refined, client details that need to be put into your CRM. Do not worry about prioritizing these just simply dump them onto a piece of paper.
So, you have literally just emptied your brain on to a piece of paper, and now it is time to start organizing this information.
My personal preference is to take a set of highlighters and to highlight everything that is admin related in one colour, everything that is new business or outbound messaging related in another colour, LinkedIn work in another colour - in other words I batch task my activities in colours which makes it really easy for me to organize this work since it is already grouped.
Make a start
Looking at your list, you will undoubtedly find some activities that have been pending for weeks, which would only take you a few minutes to do.
So, begin by actioning a number of those items - this is going to give you an immediate sense of control, and the feeling of making progress.
Once you have handled your quick wins, batch your other work tasks and allocate them the time in your calendar.
Then, task by task, hour by hour, day by day - begin to chip away at the activities that you know lead to revenue generation.
Begin slowly and then gain momentum, and you will slowly begin to enjoy the quick wins, while you savour the feeling of progress, keep holding this momentum and soon your slump will be nothing but a distant memory.
I have been through several slumps in my time as a sales professional, and I am sure that there will be more to come. The above steps, especially the part about allowing yourself time to rest and refresh are vital and help me to return with renewed vigour each time.
If you or your team are currently facing a sales slump and need some assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to us – our Remote Selling School (a first of its kind in SA) has just launched and sales professionals countrywide are joining us online to discover how to breathe some fresh life into their sales processes and planning.