Monday, 6 February 2012

6 Tips for Breaking out of a Sales Slump

By Colleen Francis

Sales people who have a poor start to the beginning of a year, often find themselves struggling for the rest of the year to catch up. The good news is, whatever you’re experiencing, we’ve all been there at least once. The bad news is, most of us don’t know exactly how
to snap out of a slump, and start
making sales.

Remember: there could be an almost unlimited number of reasons why you’re in a slump. It could be the economy, for example. But even in a poor economy, there are top performing sales people, and those who just scrape by. Admitting that your success is up to you is the first step in getting out of a slump, and getting your career back on track.

To help you snap out of a slump and get your year back on track, try these six tips, adapted from the strategies of the top 10%:

1. Stay away from life suckers

You know who they are. The one who lies in wait at the water cooler, just so they can whine, moan and complain to whatever poor, parched soul happens to wander by. The one lurking in the lunchroom way past 1pm to tell you about how nothing is ever right, and they’re always getting the short end of the stick.

When you’ve slept only 4 hours, they were up all night. If you have a stomachache, they’ve got near-fatal food poisoning. When you have a headache, you better believe they’ve got a migraine. Life suckers can’t help you; they have problems of their own.

2. Get to work earlier

Yes, I know, you’re already screaming at me: “Colleen, I need balance!” Not while you’re in a slump, you don’t. Right now, you’re behind, and you need to do something about it. Only the mediocre use balance as their battle cry during a slump. So suck it up for this short period, and save the balance until you’re back
on top.

3. Change your environment

This could be as simple as de-cluttering your office. It’s impossible to feel fresh and excited about what you do if you can’t see your desk. A chaotic work environment will make you depressed to be there, and if you’re depressed to be at work, you won’t snap out of your slump.

Changing your environment could also mean - gasp, yes, it’s true! - taking the day off from selling! If you need motivation, go sit in a coffee shop or some place with a nice view and read books and articles on positive attitude and self-development. If you need to be re-created, take a hike (literally), and then come back to the office re-energised and ready to take on the world.

Personally, I find that getting away for around 4 days (say, Thursday-Sunday, as I’m doing as I write this to you right now) can dramatically help me to create, re-organise and re-energise. It’s also one of the best ways I know of to avoid another slump in the future.

4. Follow a leader

Trail the best sales person you know on their calls for a day. See what they’re doing differently than you, and how you can incorporate those ideas in your business. Note that this doesn’t have to be someone from the office. You can learn a lot from watching sales people in other industries, too.

5. Take your boss to work

Take your boss with you on calls for a week. This will force you to be more prepared and on your best behaviour. You’ll also probably receive more feedback than you probably want.
Instead of rejecting this feedback, use it to be better.

6. Prove that money can buy a little happiness

Buy something you can’t afford. This is radical, I know, and not many of you will like this idea or think it’s responsible of me to suggest it. But it works better for me than any other “counter slump manoeuvre” I know of, so I felt it wouldn’t be right not to at least share the possibility with you.

Of course, I don’t mean racking up all your credit cards to the limit buying gold toilets, and then spending the next twenty years paying them off at 21% interest. What I mean - and what I personally do - is book a first-class trip for 6 months from now. Then, I have to make more sales to earn the money to go. Or book a training class 9 months from now, and again you’ll be motivated to sell more in order to pay for it. I don’t know about you, but for me, the “coming into work early” and all the other hard tasks on this list get a whole lot easier to embrace when I know that I have a trip to Hawaii coming up in a
few months, which I really don’t want to cancel.

Having a sales slump is not the end of the world, so long as it’s short, temporary and you know what to do about it.

Know what motivates you. Be disciplined - it’s the one thing that separates the best from the mediocre - and stay focused on those activities that you know will pull you out of the
slump. And remember to keep it all
in perspective.

You are responsible for your slump, and only you can change it. But you can change it, and once you accept the fact that you can reverse your fortune, you’ll already be on the road to recovery. SG

Colleen is driven by a passion for sales - and results. A successful sales professional for over 20 years, she understands the challenges of selling in today’s market and how traditional sales techniques from decades ago often fall short.She has studied the habits of the top 10% of sales performers from organisations of all sizes and shapes - from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Through her company, Engage Selling Solutions, Colleen has condensed this winning formula into an internationally acclaimed sales training system, helping sales professionals everywhere to make an immediate and lasting impact to their results.