Except for the fact that things have changed and we need to adapt to new buyer behaviours, many senior sales executives experience a slump at some stage of their careers.
One of the greatest dangers for a sales person is loss of confidence. Anyone who has spent some time selling anything will tell you that from time to time you will hit a wall. It might be a really difficult customer, it might be the loss of a big account, or it might be a period where you just can't seem to get a sale. The longer this period goes on the more your confidence can be shaken.
I have experienced many hurdles in my sales world and know what it feels like at the prospect of not making any sales. What can you do?
Here are some ideas that will help you get out of my sales slumps in the past.
- First, accept that you are experiencing a sales slump, not the end of the world. You haven't lost the ability to sell, your career isn't over, your business isn't about to go bust. You are in a rut and it will end.
- If what you are doing isn't working, change what you are doing. Start at the beginning. Review every stage of your sales system and look for ways to do things differently and perhaps better.
- Talk to some of your current customers. Try to find out what is going on. Is it you or your business or is it simply that your customers have stopped spending? In other words, find out the facts.
- Find a mentor--someone who knows and who has been in sales for a long time. Ask for their opinion and advice.
- Do a refresher training course. Even if you cover the basics of selling again, it will fire you up and reinvigorate you (and remind you just how much you know).
- Take a break. If you need a good long break, take one. It's hard to sell when your batteries are fried.
- Do plenty of follow-up calls on your existing customers if this is appropriate and ask them for referrals.
- Have brainstorming sessions with the other sales people in your business, or even friends who are sales people. It's great to be able to talk about sales issues with people who really do understand any challenges that you might be going through.
- Get organized. Take the time to get rid of all of those niggling little jobs and projects that are 'incomplete'. Get these sorted and your life will feel much more organized and uncluttered and so will your head.
- Buy a new suit or dress. It makes you feel like a million dollars and this seems to get sales going again.
- Change the way you do things. Buyers have the information and are more educated than 10 years ago. Find a way to deliver new insights and build credibility before you engage. This will make things much easier when you eventually meet with them.
Remember that all sales people have the occasional slump. If your confidence is at a low level, don't keep beating yourself up. Take some time to refocus, get back to the basics, have a holiday, have some fun, do a course or talk to some positive friends. Before you know it you will be well and truly back on track.
Riaan is a strategic thinker and an accomplished executive coach. He works in conjunction with sales organisations, managers and nominated senior executives to improve sales performance, design innovative sales strategies and implement sales cultures, which leads to enhanced business growth.
Over thirty years, he can demonstrate an extensive background in Corporate, B2B, digital and high-level sales. He has also established and led a number of high-performing teams to great success in the business and corporate sectors. He provides strategic insights and serves as an executive coach/trainer and adviser to clients, ranging from small, rapidly growing start-ups to well-established, international corporations.
His extensive industry experience includes organisations and executives in the telecommunications industry, Siemens, Capgemini, Accenture, Old Mutual, Sanlam Blue Star, Bytes Technologies, World Wide Creative and BWI Hong Kong, where he was retained in each case to help improve sales performance.
He is widely considered as an expert in digital prospecting and new customer engagement. He works in a consultative capacity, informing companies how to gain trust, build credibility and develop brand awareness, which generates nurtured in-bound sales leads.