Sales slumps are simply a part of doing business. These slumps pose unique challenges that must be met head-on if you are to survive. Here are six different ways to handle such a downturn:
1. Don’t try too hard
I'm not one to often give golf advice, but I do know one thing: The harder you try, the worse you usually do. Well, the same rule seems to apply to a sales slump. Getting desperate and trying too hard is just about the worst thing you can do. Prospects can smell it, and it smells bad.
The harder you try, the deeper the hole.
2. Take baby steps
One of the worst parts of sales slumps is that they can wreak havoc on your confidence, and that lack of confidence begets a bigger slump (see, generally, No. 1).
Instead, look to build your confidence back up by taking baby steps. Maybe you can sell a less expensive product for a while, or can call some tried-and-true customers. Getting a win can break the cycle.
Which brings me to...
3. Break the cycle
So much of this list is mental, because, well, you can get a little mental when you are in a slump. So mix it up and, like George Costanza, do the opposite of what you might normally do:
- Take a day off
- Go to a matinee
- Shoot some hoops
- Listen to some music
Whatever the case, by mixing things up, you actually change the physiology of your brain, and that alone can break the cycle.
What does LeBron James do when he is in a shooting slump? He goes out and practices shots for a few extra hours every day. You can do the same. Try your sales pitch out on a co-worker and get some feedback. Videotape yourself and watch what you are doing right and wrong.
5. Market some more
Another, albeit contradictory, school of thought is that a sales crunch is actually the time when you most need to stop selling for a little while and increase your marketing efforts. Why? Because it will generate some fresh leads.
6. Think like a ball
I once heard a Judo instructor tell his students that they needed to “think like a ball.” The students didn’t understand what that meant until the instructor explained: “When I move the ball to the left, it is in balance. When I move it forward, it is in balance. You must think like a ball and remain in balance no matter what is happening. If you are attacked from the front, you remain in balance. If you are attacked from behind, remain in balance. Even when you are knocked down, think like a ball and remain in balance. This is the key to success.”
For the sales person caught in a sales slump, thinking like a ball means being flexible. What worked last time may not work this time. You have to continually be creative and flexible if you are going to trump the slump. For example, what are your competitors doing that you can do too? Don’t be proud; be smart. Come up with a new plan—a proven plan that works—even if it is inspired by your competition.
Think like a ball.