Breaking out of a nasty selling slump isn't always an easy task, especially if you're not sure what precipitated the drop in performance. Have you lost your edge to stress or lost morale, has the industry moved out from underneath you, are your leads getting worse? No matter where the problem lay, even if the root problem lay in other people, there's going to be a path forward, a way to break your selling slump. In this article, we'll discuss four simple steps for crawling out of the hole and back to the top of the mountain-because no selling slump is insurmountable, with the right mindset.
Establish your situation.
Before you can work your way out of your selling slump, you need to take a hard, long, keen-eyed look at your situation. We discussed a few of the ways your slump may have started-start there. But there are as many ways for a slump to start as there are stars in the sky, and many will be unique to your position, so it's up to you to develop the attention to detail and resources for analysis that you need here.
That might mean implementing metrics software, taking notes during phone calls, putting your typical sales process on paper, and crunching a lot of numbers. It may mean asking coworkers, superiors, and gurus for insight. The important thing, however, is developing your ability to look at yourself and your environment and recognize important factors.
Plot a goal forward.
Once you know where you are, it's time to figure out where to go. There are many paths out of a selling slump, and not all of them are as simple as reversing whatever caused the initial selling slump. For example, if your sales are down because your best product fell behind the competition in features, then you're dealing with a problem that's beyond you. Your path out of the slump may be a change in product focus, working to develop stronger relationships and encourage brand loyalty, establishing a reputation with certain niches as a superior product for specific uses, etc.
Or, maybe your morale has dropped, and you need to work on ways to improve your mood as you work. Or you've seen a drop in sales to a particular demographic-has that demographic changed beneath you, or has your approach changed? If you've analyzed yourself thoroughly in the first step, you have a good idea of where to go. You just need to set a firm goal and work for it.
Analysis isn't a one-time thing. Every change you make, every shift in method or lead source or contact medium, even every anecdote used or unused, needs to be logged and analyzed later. When you collect enough data, and look at it critically, you'll quickly see what's working to bring you out of the selling slump and what's sending you back into the hole. When you stop seeing gains, it's time to change goals and look for more ways to climb, more ways to improve, more ways to profit. You won't know where you stand if you don't keep up the analysis-and wasted effort will only lead to another selling slump.
To not only break out of a selling slump, but also avoid later ones, it's important to become a sales person who keeps abreast of the latest developments in strategy, tactics, industry, market trends, demographics, etc. By always learning, you'll never be taken by surprise. If a competitor launches a new product based on a new principal, it shouldn't be a surprise-it should be something you knew about even before the competitor did. If you're that prepared, you shouldn't have much trouble staying on top of your game and avoiding the dreaded selling slump. You'll have your answers to client questions, your criticisms of the competition, and your adjustments for different prospect qualification ready. So keep learning!