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3 Steps to Breaking A Sales Slump
By Eric Slife

Sales can be incredibly rewarding, bust because your performance directly effects your compensation and often influences your self-worth, it can prove extremely taxing. More often than not, 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, 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 3 steps will not only help you break free from your slump, but it will also help you maintain more consistent numbers henceforth.

  • Change your attitude
  • Focus on what you can control
  • 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, your company, your product, bad territory, etc. The first thing is to 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. Are there colleagues who are successful? If so, then you know it’s possible.

The final step is to commit to your trade.  Unfortunately, too many salespeople fall into 1 or 2 categories. First, they either know it all, or they are lazy when it comes to improving themselves.

My guess is it’s 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 multi-million dollar sales, and was one of the sharpest sales people I’ve met. You would think this would be the one person who truly didn’t need additional help. However, he contacted us because he was looking to improve himself through one on one sales coaching.

Another similar individual, Neil, has for years subscribed to our eTraining program because he is just looking to make incremental improvements. Both Peter and Neil understand the value of investing time and money in their own career, 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 find yourself wasting time with mundane tasks, like reorganizing your desk.  That only results in digging even a deeper hole. To make matters worse, your prospects will sense your lack of confidence in what you’re selling, and they won’t buy from someone who isn’t confident in their product, service, company, or even themselves.

Needless to say, it’s extremely 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 back away from your situation, so you can take the necessary steps to move you in a more productive direction. Here are just 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 this compare to what my quota is?
  • On average how many sales do I need to make quota?
  • How many appointments do I need to have in order 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 3 months alone, what have I read or listened to that would improve my sales skills?

*Shameless plug – our eTraining tool is one of the most comprehensive, easy to use, and extremely affordable tools to get practical ideas to increase your sales immediately.

  • Why do I lose most of my sales and who do I lose most of my sales to?

The reality is this list could go on and on. If you’re a sales manager I would strongly encourage you to do this with every sales person. Once you’ve completed your assessment, don’t try to change everything overnight, but start by selecting 3 actions you can implement immediately. If you’re honest with yourself, 1 of these 3 probably will be devoted prospect on a more consistent basis. If this 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 customers for referrals, contacting past prospects, or even 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 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 upon 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 this 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 you my own personal testimony. 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 3 step process. Although I’m not content with our current growth, we’ve managed to positively turn things around, and are excited about our future outlook.

About The Author: 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 businesses sales team’s specific needs regardless of size. Visit their website

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