The phrase “sales slump” strikes fear into the heart of any sales professional. We’ve all been there, even the best of us. As the sales professional progresses from sales person to sales manager, the dreaded slump evolves from a personal concern to a team-wide responsibility.
Sales slumps bring unbelievable pressure, can have significant impacts on quality of life and can even pull entire companies to their knees. In this article, we’re going to discuss effective, actionable strategies to avoid sales slumps altogether as well as, how to turn them around once they’ve hit.
How to Avoid Sales Slumps.
1. Watch for Attitude Shifts.
We all know who our hungry salespeople are. They get in at 7:30am, clear any admin work and are hitting the phones 30 minutes before anyone else has even arrived in the office.
Beware of shifts in attitude and attendance (which are usually synonymous). Of course, results are important but they’re sometimes less easy to spot, especially if your business is a seasonal one. The attitude shift in the salesperson firing on all cylinders is the first pivotal point of turning onto this slippery slope.
2. Fix Attitude Shifts Quickly.
So, you’ve identified the early signs, what’s the first thing to do?
Check your records and find out whether or not this person has vacation. If they do, recommend they take some time off. If things are really bad for this individual sales slump, consider mentioning you’re concerned their heart is no longer in the company.
This may seem controversial, but suggesting your salesperson needs to consider their position with you forces them to change or quit before the expense of having them on board is more expensive than their poor sales. You may lose a sales guy, but sometimes it’s for the best.
Better case scenario? They come back refreshed, deciding that they do care about the job and the company and they’re raring to go once again.
How to Reverse Sales Slumps.
The problem with individual slumps in performance is that they’re contagious. If one person’s missing targets, feeling pressured and otherwise unhappy, it’s not long before your entire team is infected. Here are the right steps to turn the company around.
Remember, this is war. You need strategy. You need a plan and you need to communicate it effectively with your forces if you want to capture that hill and come out victorious.
1. Get everyone’s attention off of the past.
In order to remove that infection, you need to stop people paying attention to it. Focusing disproportionately on past failures won’t help you. Announce that you’ve got a plan and start talking about the future.
2. Discuss the ‘why.’
You’ve discussed the what, now speak about the why. Identifying the reason why you may have got into this situation and let them know that it’s both okay and fixable. Putting the blame somewhere else will help alleviate pressure and focus on what to do about the situation.
3. Next, talk about the ‘how.’
Now, it’s time to lay out your action plan. Let people know about any key customer accounts you’ve identified to target throughout the campaigns to rebuild the companies one client relationship at the time. Adjust the KPI’s in a relevant way for your organization and let people know what you’re going to be doing.
4. Build suspense.
Now you’ve got everybody together and back on one side. Consider putting down a small after-work gathering or something positive you can all work towards together. Get everybody even more on board and fired up about the new strategy.
5. Relieve some of the tension.
Consider whether you may have been putting your sales team under too much pressure and consider shifting focus from sales results to having fun in rebuilding things back to how they work. Threatening people with jobs or pay cuts won’t help you out.
6. Hold regular update meetings.
When things get underway, hold regular update meetings, perhaps considering using a point scoring system to keep track of progress. Praise those taking things in the right direction to encourage others to do the same.
As you can see, what you need is a game-changing, massive action plan and lots of staff engagement. By engaging your team in this way, taking the focus off the past and putting the focus on a strategic and practical way to move things forward, you can completely turn things around.