You were selling well, making deals, and all was right in the world. Then, without warning, your sales took a breathtaking, stomach-turning plummet, and you find yourself in the dreaded sales slump. Your results are awful. You feel terrible. Worse still, you feel powerless to change anything.
But you aren’t powerless. You can turn the sales slump around with this plan.
1. Recognize the slump and take responsibility.
You’re probably making one big mistake that keeps you locked in a sales slump. Unless and until you stop making this mistake, nothing you do will put you back on the path to good results. That mistake is in believing that someone else, or something else, is responsible for your results.
The first step to breaking free is to take 100 percent responsibility for your results.
It’s easy to blame your poor performance on a cause outside yourself—the economy, the president, Congress, your sales manager, your territory, your prospective customers or your commission structure. The problem with that mindset is that it disempowers you. Rationalizing poor results may help you feel better by absolving you of responsibility, but if you aren’t to blame for the poor results, then you are also powerless to do anything about them. You need to be powerful!
By stepping up and owning your results, you take back the power to improve them.
2. Recover your mojo.
At one time, your mojo was working. You were succeeding wildly. You were making calls, seeing clients and making deals. You were unstoppable. Do you remember what it felt like to have The Big Mo? Well, it’s time to get it back.
Failing doesn’t make you a failure. It’s an event, not an identity. A sales slump is also an event. To recover your mojo, remind yourself who you really are.
Think back to the time when you made your first sale or won your first customer. You knew far less then than you know now. But you succeeded anyway.
Remember when you called on that tough-as-nails customer who threw every objection imaginable at you? You stood tough and fired back all the right answers. It was exhilarating, wasn’t it?
Your life, including your work life, is full of successes. You have won dozens or hundreds or thousands of customers. You’ve helped your customers, and some of them wouldn’t dream of buying from anyone other than you.
Make a list of all your past victories. Title it “My Mojo.” Carry your list with you and review it first thing every day to remind yourself of who you are and what you have already accomplished. Remember what it felt like to achieve the things on that list.
3. Take action.
Getting back in the right mindset lays the foundation for breaking free from your slump and getting back to producing stellar results. But the positive, empowered, mojo-seeking mindset isn’t enough by itself. It has to be coupled with action.
Sales is an activity-based endeavor. You can’t wait for customers to beat a path to your door. To break out of the slump, you have to start taking massive action. Now.
Start by calling on all of your existing customers to see how else you can help them. Don’t make these calls about you, your slump or a pity order. Make this call about creating the tremendous value that your customer needs from you right now. Your existing customers know you, they’ve already bought from you and they usually are receptive to meeting with you and working with you again.
Your existing customers are the warm-up round. Once you’ve called on them, move on to your prospective customers. These prospects need what you sell. If you’ve been in a slump for a long time, they don’t know that you can help them because you haven’t been pursuing their business. Part of the reason you could be in a slump is because you haven’t really been prospecting at all; you’ve been calling on the same stale list of prospects for years with no success. It’s time to do the real prospecting work of building a new list or of seriously changing your approach to the prospects you are pursuing.
Nothing breaks you out of a slump faster than calling on prospective customers. Remember: The greater your sales-producing activities, the faster you’ll make a turnaround.
4. Rack up small wins.
When you’re in a slump, you probably feel you must land one huge new customer to turn things around. This isn’t true. There isn’t one giant win that breaks the cycle and makes everything all right. Instead, it’s the consistent activity and the resulting consistent wins that allow you to make a 180-degree turnaround.
Every win boosts your confidence. You score a confidence-boosting win when a dream client you’ve pursued for years says yes to a meeting. You also build confidence by obtaining a small first order after an awesome sales call on a prospect.
Regaining your mojo means stringing together small confidence-boosting wins on your way to bigger and better results.
By following these four steps, you will break out of your sales slump. This recipe also will prevent the next sales slump by helping you maintain your mojo.
This article was published in April 2015 and has been updated. Photo by @vkstudio/Twenty20.