4 Tips for Breaking Out of a Sales Slump
You are on top of your game, coming out of the best quarter of your career. But things just aren’t clicking any more: week after week you are putting up below quota numbers and you are starting to question everything you do.
No matter how great you are, the dreaded sales slump is an inevitable reality of the profession. What separates the most successful sales people from the rest is their ability to dig themself out of a slump.
So how can you get back up after getting knocked down 100 times, when all you want to do is get out of the ring?
1. Keep Things in Perspective
Sales is a mental game, and your success in sales relies heavily on your ability to keep the right mindset.
To succeed in the long-term, especially when things are going poorly, a rep needs to be able to stay positive and focused, and not get sucked into the (very normal and natural) cycle of negativity. This is often referred to as mental toughness.
This requires having perspective on your situation.
The best way to get perspective on a situation is usually to walk away from it and let some time pass. Obviously, that isn’t really an option when you need perspective on your livelihood.
Keeping things in perspective is essential to breaking out of a slump.
Remember that the best in any field are inevitably going to slump, and you simply need a game plan and some patience to get out of it.
2. Look back at old wins
Review a cycle you won. Remember the uncertainty during the cycle.
As you start breaking down each key element of a particular win you will remember hurdles you overcame and your self doubt that you surpassed.
More importantly, it is helpful to remind yourself that you are great at your job and you have had some big wins.
You should never rest on your laurels, but there’s nothing wrong with using a trophy as motivation.
3. Review previous slumps
Think hard about the last time you had a slump. Remember the things you told yourself, (ex: “this will never end”, “it doesn’t matter what I do”). Are you saying the same things to yourself now?
After forcing yourself to really remember and think about how you felt at the time, look at the numbers from a quarterly/annual basis, and note how and when you crawled out of it. You will realize the things you were saying to yourself were not true, and that things do turn around and begin to workout.
Your brain is telling you things about what is happening, and what will happen. Force yourself to objectively confront this voice in your head with facts.
4. Talk it out
Find a sales rep or manager you trust and talk it out. Vent.
Once the venting is done, something interesting will usually happen. You will start to speak with more perspective, and realistically plan your way out of the hole. You will know what you need to execute to make sure to come out of this, and you will naturally understand the mindset it takes.
Many years ago, about a year and half into a sales role at my previous company, I hit the worst slump of my tenure there. I had just come off a remarkable first year, having quickly established myself as one of the elite members of the team. Then, in months 13-16 nothing could go right. At the same time, my friend Charles had his first big slump in sales.
During the worst of it, one day we somehow decided to go into a small conference room together and talk about what was going on. We vented, there was cursing, swearing off accounts, sales in general, and maybe even our company leadership.
Then, once it was all said out loud we started to talk solutions. It wasn’t formal, we didn’t write down a plan, we just naturally started talking about how things could change. We started to get excited about it. Our perspective changed.
We left that room, and over the course of the next month or 2, we both caught fire and ended our respective slumps. I can’t say it was because of the meeting, but I believe it helped. 5 years later we both still remember that meeting well.
Even the best salespeople can get into terrible slumps, think it is never going to end, and question their ability to go on. It is just human nature to doubt oneself.
But the processes you have to overcome this self doubt will define your ability to succeed in your career.