In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why salespeople will often find themselves in a 'slump' from time to time, and what you need to do about it, before it becomes serious! Based on his successful work with sales teams across the globe, Andy gives you the hints, tips and techniques to cope with a slump and get your sales figures back where they belong.
Let’s face it. No matter how good a salesperson you are, you’re going to find yourself in a sales slump from time to time. This happens to all salespeople, regardless of age, ability, experience, industry or anything else.
This usually happens for a number of reasons. First of all, it may happen because the salesperson has become complacent. Satisfied with their results in recent times, salespeople take their ‘foot off the pedal’ and stop doing the things that got them those results in the first place.
Secondly, it may happen because the salesperson has been mainly relying on a small number of key individuals, to whom access becomes limited – which may or may not be the fault of the individual salesperson, but they still have to deal with the ‘fall-out’ from it.
Or thirdly, it could be because there’s been a change internally (inside the company) or externally, due to change in the industry or the economy for example. As you can imagine, this reason has been the most likely cause for ‘sales slumps’ over recent months.
So what can we do about it?
Whatever the reason for the ‘sales slump’ it’s vital that we do something about it – and quickly! Sales managers and directors are looking for their salespeople to perform right now, and those that don’t are been looked at very closely. This is something you want to avoid if at all possible. Therefore, have a look at some of the tips below and get your sales results back where they belong.
Tip No 1 – Get in the right mindset
It’s essential for salespeople to get themselves in the right mindset before seeing potential customers. Particularly when things are changing for them – for example, when doctors are refusing to see them, PCT decision makers are difficult to reach, or when having to change the sales approach they’ve been used to.
Confidence is vital for any salesperson, and if you let it show that your confidence has been ‘knocked’ a little, that can have a drastic impact on your sales efforts.
When things start to go badly for a salesperson you can hear it in their voice and see it in their body language. If we don’t do something about that before we start the call, it’s almost over before it’s even begun.
Tip No 2 – Increase your contacts
A big challenge for the medical salesperson right now is that their ‘typical’ decision makers are changing. There are doctors that they used to call on regularly in the past who are now refusing to see them, and newer contacts won’t give them any ‘airtime’ to talk about their products. Therefore, a change of strategy is needed in order to keep the sales pipeline full.
In order to keep the sales pipeline in a healthy state, you need to increase the number of contacts and potential influencers that you know (and know you), as well as the ‘traditional’ approach of calling on doctors.
After all, in order to be able to convince people to support your product over the one they currently recommend, they have to be able to like and trust you at some level – and without taking the time to make those important contacts, you could well me missing out on potential opportunities. Keep your ear to the ground, who is influential in deciding which drugs reach the formulary for your PCT or an expert in relevant therapy areas?
Tip No 3 – Get the right support around you
When the salesperson is struggling for results and desperately trying to get ‘back on track’, it’s vital that they have the support of the people around them. Family and friends are equally as important as work colleagues and bosses in this regard.
Because salespeople generally are quite social people, their time outside of work is regularly spent with a close circle of family and friends. If those people don’t support the salesperson in their choice of career, or try to get them to get a ‘normal job’ at every opportunity, that’s going to undermine the efforts of the salesperson to turn around their sales slump.
The salesperson’s colleagues and immediate bosses also have a role to play here. The salesperson is already feeling bad enough about the lack of sales results coming in, without threats, intimidation or the ‘cold shoulder’ from the managers and directors above them.
In addition, managers should try and create a culture of ‘healthy competition’ within the sales team, where each member is wanting to get the best sales results possible and be a top performer, but able to support and encourage team-mates to do the same, rather than try and beat them down to increase their own chances of winning.
One of the keys to a successful sales team is to have each member trying to better their own results, with a little healthy competition – but not to the detriment of individuals within that team. That goes towards helping everyone succeed and creates a strong bond between team members, as well as the best sales figures possible for the company.
Tip No 4 – Get back to basics
One of the temptations for many salespeople who are in a ‘sales slump’ is to think that their previous good figures are more to do with the fact that they’re ‘a natural’ at sales, an omnipotent sales deity and that the sales just arrived because of the way they are – that they achieved it all without effort!
Now of course there will be the times when an order just landed in their laps, but in the majority of cases, certain things in the sales process drove those successful results for them. Plus their own attributes like determination, tenacity, resilience etc that helped them get over the barriers to getting the person to recommend their product in the first place!
When a salesperson finds themselves in a ‘slump’, one of the best things to do is to get back to basics – to look at the parts of their sales process, plus their own activity levels that drove their previously higher levels of sales results.
It might be that their number of prospecting calls has dropped off, that they are no longer sat in front of enough key influencers on a regular basis or that they’re not putting in the efforts now that got them to their previously successful levels of results.
Whatever the reason, it needs analysing and them implementing a ‘back-to-basics’ approach – it’s often the simple things that once adjusted can make the biggest difference!
Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert and a specialist in helping companies win more profitable new business. You can see more about Andy at www.andy-preston.com. If you have any questions about anything in this article (or anything else related to sales) you can ask Andy a question http://www.andy-preston.com/ask-andy/