In this episode, Paul shares ten tips to get out of a sales slump.
Dr. Seuss can help you get out of your slump, but un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
“No matter how successful you are, you’ve experienced a slump.”
Tip number one, make more calls. Generating activity is critical. With all that activity, you’re either going to get better or lucky.
Look for outside inspiration like podcasts, YouTube videos, motivational books, etc.
Review your previous successes to boost your skills and confidence.
Take a vacation. A little distance from your struggle can make a world of difference.
Get your manager out in the field with you and focus on the basics.
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How do I get out of a sales slump?
(Transcribed from podcast)
Today, we have another question that came through the website. Today’s question is about sales slumps: How do you get out of one? How do you manage them? All that good stuff. We’ve all been there. I don’t care how phenomenal you are as a salesperson: if you’re a top achiever, if you’re a high flyer, man, we’ve all been through a slump before. So today we’re going to talk about ideas and tips to not only manage a slump, but how you can get out of that slump.
This specific question came to us from a salesperson in the oil and gas industry; certainly an industry that has been hit hard lately. This salesperson has experienced success in the industry and previous positions, but with this new company, they’re experiencing a slump. We’re going to talk about how to get out of that today.
Before we get into that though, a quick shout-out to our sponsor, The Creative Impostor Studios. Check out the information on the free upcoming Launch Your Podcast show that Andrea and her team are going to put on. The first fifteen people that register are going to get in for free. So check it out. Information is going to be available on the webpage. Andrea and her team have been part of the podcast since the beginning, and they can help you. This is going to be the next big thing in marketing—the podcast. Check out that with Andrea and her team.
Also don’t forget to pick up your latest copy of Value-Added Selling. It’s available wherever you get your books. It’s your go-to guide for how to sell profitably, whether it’s good times or whether it’s tough times, or even if you’re in a sales slump.
In preparation for this question, I had to refer to my favorite author, or one of my favorite authors, I should say. Who other than Dr. Seuss: Oh, the Places You’ll Go. If you don’t have a copy of this book, you’ve got to get one. It’s just a perennial bestseller. Great message. But in his book, he could have been writing this for salespeople. There’s one section I’m going to read for you. Here’s what Dr. Seuss says:
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch. You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump. And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
A little wisdom from Dr. Seuss to kick off today’s show. You know, we’ve all been there. We’ve been in a slump. It’s frustrating. You wake up every day, you go out there, you put in the effort, you put in the energy, and things just don’t happen. It’s so frustrating. And one of the things we have to remember is that, yes, you’re in a slump. But the slump is going to pass.
With that being said, let’s go ahead and get started with ten ideas to help you get out of a sales slump. I remember my dad told me this early on in my sales career. It was during The Great Recession, back in 2008/2009. And many of us were experiencing a sales slump. One of the best pieces of advice he gave me was simply make more calls. He said, “If you’re not busy, if you’re not making calls, if your pipeline is empty, make more calls. The simple act of getting busy, going after opportunities, making more calls, that’s going to help generate activity. And generating activity… eventually you’re going to find something.” He’s like, “You’re either going to get better or you’re going to get lucky. But keep making sales calls.”
That’s the first step. So whatever happens, yes, you’re going to feel like giving up. You’re going to feel like just waiting for the slump to pass. The only way a batter can get out of a slump is if he hits his way out of it. You’ve got to keep swinging. You’ve got to keep making those calls. So for the salesperson, keep making the calls, even if it seems like it’s fruitless, nothing’s working, you’ve got to keep making the calls.
Number two, look for inspiration. And I know that sounds pretty obvious. But think about how you motivate yourself. Do you watch YouTube videos? I know sometimes I love watching YouTube videos of some of the famous motivational speakers: the Jim Rohns, Les Browns, Zig Ziglars, Tony Robbins. I love watching those videos. They’re powerful messages. And those always get me amped up. I know multiple salespeople who do the same thing. The key is finding ways to mentally prepare yourself, to motivate you, to keep you moving forward. That’s the goal here. Listen to some podcasts, you know, the Q and A Podcast. But also, there are other sales podcasts. There are great positive podcasts too. I’m a big fan of Jon Gordon and his podcast, Positive U. You want to surround yourself with inspirational messages. That’s number two: look for inspiration.
Number three, analyze your previous successes. Think about that. If you were to go back over the past year or two before you were in this slump, think about some of your successes that you’ve had. Just imagine them. Think about them. Put yourself back in that position and that moment of success. When you put yourself back in time, you’re going to remind yourself that, “Hey, I am a good salesperson. I’m going to make it through this. I’m going to get out of this slump.” Looking back at your previous successes… that’s going to also help boost your confidence a little bit because, during a slump, sometimes we lack confidence. So look back at your previous successes. Detail the steps and the actions that you took to help you achieve that success. And again, that’s one way you can begin to build a little more confidence in yourself as you manage this slump.
Number four: focus on the basics. When you think about what are the basics of selling: you reach out to people, you schedule meetings, you ask great questions, you have good conversations, you present your value, you communicate how it’s going to impact the customer, you plan your sales calls. Do those basic things. Those basic things are going to lead to success. I remember a great book… What’s his name? Jim Mattis, I think. Mad Dog, the general. In one of his books on leadership, he talks about being “brilliant in the basics.” And that could ring true for really any position, but also, especially for salespeople. Just be brilliant at the basics of selling. Focus on that: the blocking, the tackling. Doing that is going to help you emerge stronger. So focus on the basics of selling.
Point number five, make some joint calls. I used to do this when I was in a slump. I would bring my sales manager out there with me. I would bring a fellow salesperson, a field engineer maybe, or someone else. And there was something about having a sales buddy, I guess, out there with you in the field. Opportunities would just happen. And maybe it’s a result of having four eyes looking at an opportunity and four ears listening to the customer. But when I would bring out another salesperson with me or my manager, it just seemed like opportunities would show up. Things started to happen. So I would encourage you to do that as well. Reach out to your sales manager. Reach out to a mentor that you’ve had in your career and have them join you for some sales calls. They can give you some feedback on how you can improve and how you can get better.
Number six: focus more on helping people than selling to people. I remember in one of the slumps I had, my wife gave me some great advice. She said, “I can tell you’re stressed out. You’re not hitting your quota.” She’s like, “I know you probably just want to do what you can to sell something. But rather than doing that, why don’t you just focus on helping your customers?” At the time, she was a labor and delivery nurse and she said, “Whenever I get stressed out at work, I just focus on the patient—helping the patient.” So let’s substitute the word selling for helping and we focus on ways that we can help people. And by doing that, number one—part of what it means to sell on value is you have to help people and create value. But also, it’s going to make you feel good. Think about how you feel when you do something nice for someone else without any reciprocation expected. When you do that, it’s going to build you up. It’s going to fill your tank up. It’s going to make you feel better. So we want to focus on helping people.
Tip number eight, gain a sense of accomplishment. You have to accomplish something. During tough times, when you’re in a slump, it feels like you’re not really doing anything. It feels like you’re just spinning your wheels; that you have no sense of accomplishment. And if you can complete something, achieve something during this slump, it’s going to give you a little more confidence.
I’ll give you an example. We had a podcast, several weeks ago, where we talked about what salespeople can do to gain a sense of accomplishment. And one of the salespeople that I was talking to (it was on a virtual webinar) he said that he likes to cut his grass. That gives him a sense of accomplishment. If you think about it, you set the goal; my goal is to cut the grass to make it look good. Then you achieve that, it gives you a little more confidence. I know that might sound silly, but think about sales in general, especially when you’re in a slump, you’re trying so hard to push to get that sale, to get things moving forward, and you’re accomplishing nothing. That’s a big blow to our ego. It lowers our confidence. So one way to begin building it back is to do things—to achieve things you know you can achieve, like cutting the grass, washing the car. If you’re good at golf, go out and play golf. Do something you’re good at that gives you a sense of accomplishment. That’s going to help build your confidence back up.
Let’s get to number nine. Reward your behavior. It’s as simple as that. It can be tough to make those calls when you’re in a slump, but the only way to un-slump yourself is to keep making those calls. Here’s what I would recommend. Set an activity level, an activity target. That activity target could be, “I’m going to make twenty phone calls today. I’m going to have twenty conversations with prospects and customers.” Once you achieve that activity level, reward yourself. Buy yourself something nice. Buy yourself a pair of new shoes. Buy yourself a new hat or buy yourself a new golf club or something. Use this as a reward. And you’re rewarding your behavior. It’s going to make you feel good. It’s going to make you feel better, and it will positively encourage you to continue with that activity level. So reward yourself. Even if you’re in a slump, find a way to reward yourself.
One other tip, take a vacation. When people are stressed out, when we’re pushing too hard, it’s amazing what a little distance will do to help us refocus, to recharge and to come back even stronger. So if you’re in a slump, take some time off. I never understand why people don’t take their vacation, why they continue to work through it. Vacation is absolutely critical. So during a slump, it’s okay to take a few days off, to take a week off. Take your vacation. Forget about selling for a while. Forget about everything. Unplug. Completely unwind. You need that to help you get back to your normal self. So take that vacation.
And then the 10th tip—the final tip—exercise. Exercise will reduce stress. Exercise is going to make you feel better. It boosts your endorphins. And also it’s a positive way that you can manage the stress that you feel when you are in a slump. So get out there, take a walk, take a run, ride your bike, lift some weights, go to the gym, shadow box, whatever you do. Just get some exercise. It’s a great outlet for some of the frustration that you could be experiencing.
Overall, just remember that, this too will pass. When we’re in a slump, remember, every no, every rejection that you hear just means you’re all that much closer to that yes that we’re going for.
All right, folks. Well, good luck un-slumping yourself. Make sure you pick up Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go.
Make it a big day.