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How to recover from a sales slump

Have you experienced a period when you simply couldn't sell?

If you answer 'No', then you are either one of the world's best salespeople or you haven't been doing the job for very  long.

Commonly the start is when a deal that you really need fails to materialise and that starts a negative loop. You feel a bit down, so you don't try very hard, consequentially, your sales results deteriorate. And this, of course, repeats.

Some sales people seem to exhibit a 'bi-polar' type of behaviour. When things are going well, they are work-hard/play-hard, big-spenders, party animals. Then, sometimes for no obvious reason, depress strikes and leads on to a downward spiral.

This malaise is no respecter of persons; gifted, outstanding individuals are as prone to it as regular folk - Winston Churchill had 'black dog' days as did Caroline Aherne, Stephen Fry, Woody Allen, Eric Clapton, Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan in our era, and in earlier times Isaac Newton and Michelangelo. Wikipedia lists many others.

Here's what I have found to help. Do something productive, energetically. Which for someone in sales means begin prospecting, even if you don't feel like it. Taking action is the key. Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself doesn't help, believe me I have tried and no amount of waiting for things to get better of their own accord works either.

But doing something constructive does. If you can summon up the resolve and energy to do all the fundamental parts of selling to a good standard, you'll break out of the debilitating gloom. With sufficient effort input, you can be sure of getting a sale or two. Even small orders make you feel better, then you can build from there. Success breeds success.

I've found myself in a sales desert a number of times and been tempted to quit selling and try something else. My advice to you if you think the same way is don't do so because it may give rise to another problem you hadn't thought of in the moment. The trouble with changing careers is that the knowledge and skills that you have gained so far in your career may have little relevance to a different job.

To keep myself motivated to sell, I need only think of one day about 10 years ago. I'd taken 3 months off from my regular work to do some renovations to my elderly father's house. It was great to be doing something different, but I was living on savings for the period. When I got back to my sales job, I had no money in the bank and all my old leads were either sold or had gone cold. Fortunately my wife had the right instinct, she told me to, 'Get out there and knock on some doors'. And I did, literally.

A couple of miles from my home there is a science / business park. I began prospecting door-to-door. The first place I called on told me, 'We tried sales-training, it doesn't work'. The next company was full of white-coated lab technicians who looked at me as though I had just arrived from outer space. We certainly didn't establish communication.

On attempt three, the branch office of a major insurance company, the Sales Manager said, I'm busy right now, come back in an hour. When I returned these were his exact words, 'I've got thirty people and I want to give them two sessions starting in week's time'.

I gave no presentation whatsoever.

Amazingly, he went on to say, 'Send me your invoice now. I need to pay it before our financial year ends'. So I sent in my bill, received a cheque, and then he postponed the job three times before I finally did it.

My stats for that day of prospecting: I called on 11 companies in about 4 hours of door-knocking. Three organisations had some interest and one of them gave me a series of work worth over $10,000. And adding in the insurance company, the total value of jobs obtained that day was $14,000.

A taste of success gave me back my motivation and this experience taught me a lesson about how to deal with sales slumps.

Tony Robbins the personal development guru says 'Massive action leads to massive results'. 'Energetic action' worked for me, it will for you too.

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my book.

How to Motivate Sales People manual

 

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