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How to get out of a sales slump

As a writer, what I fear most is writer’s block. My job is centered around being able to write words. So, not being able to would be quite problematic. And almost every profession has some version of “writer’s block.” 

For a software engineer, it might be that their code keeps having lots of bugs. Or, if you’re a teacher, maybe you’re having trouble coming up with new and exciting lesson plans. For salespeople, it’s undoubtedly the “sales slump.” 

Anyone who’s been in sales for a bit knows that slumps happen. Maybe you have a streak of less-than-phenomenal leads. Or maybe you’re just not connecting with prospects like you usually do. No matter the case, striking out on deals takes a toll, which can add fuel to the fire. All of a sudden it’s the end of the month and you’re nowhere close to hitting quota. 

It’s demoralizing. 

With writer’s block, the trick is to just start writing. I know that sounds overly simple, but that’s really the way through. In sales, however, you can’t just go out and start trying to sell to strangers on the street until you get your groove back. Well, you could, but it’s not advisable. 

So, how exactly do you get out of a sales slump? In this article I cover five tips you can use to overcome a sales slump and get back to selling stronger than ever. 

Start small

If it’s been a slow month, and numbers are low, your first instinct may be to seek out the biggest deal possible. It makes sense. Larger deals move you closer to quota faster. However, there are some flaws to that method. 

First, bigger deals usually take more time. The larger the investment from the prospect, the more likely it is they’ll want to trial the product. Also, they may need to get sign-off from someone else in the company, which can increase the total deal time. 

Last, bigger deals mean more pressure on you, which is kind of the last thing you want when you’re in a sales slump. Sure, some folks perform well under pressure, but for others it’s just another roadblock to overcome. 

Consider going after smaller deals to start rebuilding your confidence. That could come in many different forms. For example, maybe you could go through your current client list and inquire about possible expansions. You already have rapport with them, and they already know the value of your product, so it may be a simpler sale. 

Get inspired

When I’m going through a bout of writer’s block one of the things I like to do is read. Seeing great examples of writing tends to inspire me and sparks my mind, making writing those first words just a little easier. 

Though there isn’t an exact equivalent in sales, there are plenty of uplifting sales material you can watch. Whether it be from someone like Tony Robbins or Gary Vee, it’s hard to watch one of their videos and not feel inspired to get out there and make some deals. 

For others, doing non-sales related things can help get them inspired. Going out for a run, or hitting the gym releases endorphins, which can help inspire you. You could even blast a favorite song of yours to get pumped up. 

Also, if you have a favorite sales book, you could consider reading a chapter or two to get in the right mindset. Reading is also a great way to recharge and get some energy back, which can be helpful for getting back into the swing of things. 

You could also ask to sit in on a sales call with one of your co-workers (we call them ride-alongs). Seeing someone else do a pitch could help spark some ideas for your next call. The other benefit is that you can do a wrap-up with your co-worker after and ask about anything in their process that stood out to you. 

Remember, your team is as good a resource as any book, or inspirational video. 

Focus on the fundamentals

Lately, it seems in the NBA anytime a team is down by 10 points or more, they start shooting wild 3 point shots. In some ways, it makes sense. Making 3s is the fastest way to erase a deficit, in theory. 

The only problem is 3 point shots are a lot harder to make. They seem to be the best bet, but in actuality, teams would be better served going for layups, as it’s a much higher likelihood they’ll make those. In sales, it’s not that different. 

When you’re in a slump, just like when a team is down by a lot, it’s easy to panic and think you have to go for the big shots. However, it’s probably not what will serve you best, or what you really need to get your rhythm back. 

Focusing on the fundamentals of sales is probably the best way to accomplish that. For example, you could start with your pitch. You probably have something pretty standard, so consider writing it down and going over it. Maybe there are some areas you can improve, or tighten up. 

From there, try getting back to some of the basics like cold-calling, or sending out emails to prospects that have idled. They may seem like really simple steps, but that’s part of their power. Even small steps in the right direction eventually lead to where you want to go. 

Try something new

There’s an old saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” Even though focusing on the fundamentals as a first step is important,, that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment. 

Now, I’m not suggesting you completely change how you do things, but you could test out some new avenues you haven’t previously explored. For example, if you’ve classically done all of your outreach through email, you could try utilizing social media to connect with potential prospects. 

In fact, data shows that salespeople using social channels are outperforming their peers who haven’t started. Also, instead of sending your message as text, you might consider doing it as a video. Having that novel element may make them more likely to interact with your message and will, most-likely, help you stand out in their mind. 

There are plenty of ways you can switch things up. The main thing is to just stay open to new ideas and be willing to test them out. If something doesn’t work, move on to the next effort until you find something that does. 

Lower expectations

Did you know only 53% of salespeople consistently hit quota? I don’t mention that to say that’s what you should aim for, it’s just to offer some perspective.  

As a salesperson, it’s natural to be competitive. Sales is a tough industry and requires some level of competitiveness to succeed. There are plenty of ways being competitive is an asset to a salesperson, but it can also mean having very high expectations of yourself. 

Again, that’s not always a bad thing. But when you’re in a sales slump, it’s not always the best. One thing you can do is switch your thinking from an outcome-based expectation, to an effort-based expectation. 

For example, you might switch from expecting you close a certain number of deals in a week (outcome based) to focusing on making a certain number of calls in a week (effort based). By making that adjustment, you get back in the driver’s seat and have more say over hitting those goals.  

Having agency over your decisions can help boost confidence. And as we mentioned above, confidence can help your overall performance. 

One foot in front of the other

We all want to do a good job.  Whether it’s writer’s block, a streak of buggy code, or a sales slump, having blockers, especially internal ones, can be tough to overcome. Though it may be difficult to do, it’s not impossible. 

The best thing you can do is control what you can, and try not to worry about what you can’t. If you can do that, and stay motivated, you’ll be able to overcome any sales slump. Be kind to yourself, remember the fundamentals, get creative, and keep trying.

If you do, your sales slump will be over in no time.

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