8 Ways to Break a Sales Slump

8 Ways to break a sales slump

Anyone can fall into a slump. Even professional athletes like Steph Curry, the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history, can hit a phase where he can’t make a shot. This does not mean he’s lost his power. Whether it’s a bad day, a flaw in his mechanics, or a missed step, it just means something is off. The same is true for professional salespeople. In either case, the first thing to check is your process. Perhaps, you are doing something to throw off your game. Typically, trying different techniques, such as varying your outreach or expanding your target audience, can lead you back. Here are eight ways to break a sales slump:

Focus on the Fundamentals

In all professions, the best master their fundamentals. For basketball players, it’s dribbling and footwork. For sellers, it’s their core selling skills. If you’re in a slump, get back to the basics. Be sure to do the following:

  • Follow your organization’s sales process
  • Update stale email templates and sales scripts
  • Find the lost smile in your voice (yes, this is a thing)
  • Utilize all aspects of social media, especially LinkedIn
  • Overhaul your virtual sales stage

Too often, we complicate our sales process or skip necessary steps. Or else our routines get old, and we get bored. These things can make our tried-and-true methods feel like bad sales habits. Start with small accounts. No need to close your biggest deal when you’re in the middle of a sales slump. Instead, hit a few mid-range jumpers until you find your three-point shot.   

Attend Events

With Covid, sellers lost trade shows and events. These were vital for networking and engaging prospects. When potential customers can’t see you, it’s easy to forget you. Now that events are opening, keep these things in mind:

  • Face-to-face networking presents greater opportunity than virtual
  • Body language can cue you into a prospect’s personality before you approach
  • Engage with acquaintances of friends and friends of acquaintances
  • Be seen and maintain your smile
  • Have your business card handy and your elevator pitch ready

Even if you don’t make any sales, in-person interaction provides vital information you can use in your follow up. Also, these days, most organizations are utilizing hybrid means of engagement—mixing in person with virtual. This means the most important players may miss the event. Always check with your contacts for those VIPs who couldn’t make the trip.

Target New Customers

You know the saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” While this is certainly a little extreme, there’s much to be said for breaking out of our comfort zones. For slumping salespeople, this can be as simple as reaching out to customers in industries that are new for us. If you typically sell to healthcare or financial clients, reach out to citrus growers or tech startups. When targeting new customers, consider the following:   

  • Think about customers who could appreciate your value proposition   
  • Look for industries that sound interesting
  • Seek clients/industries making the news or setting trends  
  • Reach out to existing clients and look for opportunities to upsell and cross sell
  • Think about prospects that work with your existing customers, such as packers, shippers, or other third parties

To break a slump, get creative and try different forms of outreach, such as expanding your social media or video introductions. You might be surprised how many ideas come to you. Don’t discount any idea, no matter how new to you. You never know what might appeal to the prospect.

Broaden Your Lead Generation Strategies

Another cause of a sales slump is focusing too much on a single lead generation strategy. If your only lead gen effort is cold calling, you’re limiting your ability to drive sales. Diversifying can take work, but it’s likely you’ll achieve greater success. Here are a few ways to broaden your lead gen:

  • Expand your use of social media
  • Search the news for industry trends and research the major players
  • Revisit and connect with lost prospects
  • Develop content that aligns with your customers’ needs
  • Implement multi-touch call and email campaigns

Also, remember lead gen is one of those routines that’s easy to stagnate. We do the same things, day in and day out. Like all routines, it needs to be updated. Sellers must challenge themselves to keep it fresh. Always revise and retune your sales scripts. Be sure emails are specifically targeted to customers based on their likes, needs, and communication styles. And always vary the days and time of your outreach.

Network With Peers and Colleagues

It’s easy to get stuck in our own worlds. Sometimes, we forget there are fresh things to try and new ways to do old things. Also, everyone works differently. To break a slump, it can be vital to reach out to others. Consider these tips:

  • Consult with your sales colleagues and manager
  • Network with other sales professionals, such as former co-workers and friends
  • Maintain a positive presence on social media by liking and sharing content
  • Read sales publications and listen to podcasts
  • Attend industry events
  • Get involved in discussions online or through organizations like your Chamber of Commerce

Of course, we all have our own best practices that have served us well. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t solicit tips. While there might only be one way to rock, there’s certainly more than one way to sell. And a slump is the best time to reach out.

Outreach Effectively

Getting back on track from a sales slump can be challenging. But it’s important not to give up or let negativity take over. Sitting inert, waiting for tide to turn, is not going to help. In fact, that often makes it worse. Outreach is key. Here are a few tips to outreach effectively:

  • Continue prospecting for new leads, utilizing social media and professional directories
  • Monitor the news for stories that could impact prospects or clients
  • Study trends, forecasts, and what the experts say
  • Reach out to past contacts and follow up on their needs
  • Share content, such as blogs, case studies, and white papers

As the sales landscape changes at an ever-accelerating rate, it’s important you inform clients of updates to your product lines or warranties. Also, your client’s needs are changing fast. Yesterday’s solutions may not work for today’s problems. Keep reaching for solutions that align with their needs.

Learn From Experience

Your experience is a great tool for overcoming a sales slump. As such, you must understand where you succeeded and failed. However, this can require honest reflection. Here are ways to learn from the past:

  • Choose a particular success story and understand what worked
  • Identify a past failure and take stock
  • Distinguish between human error and challenges beyond your control
  • Recognize what you can now control
  • Understand and replicate the relationships that helped you succeed

While our experiences are behind us, they can also map the road ahead. Of course, all clients are different, and situations and challenges are often unique. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t learn, grow, and apply past lessons to your present and future.   

Seek Outside Help

Sometimes, you need a new perspective. Of course, your co-workers and managers can be a big help. However, you see these people every day. In many ways, they have the same view as you. An outside expert, someone not in your organization or involved in your sales efforts, can be great for slumpbusting. Here are tips for utilizing outside help:

  • Seek experts with sales experience and a track record coaching and training
  • Provide an honest accounting of your efforts and issues
  • Don’t just hear but listen to their perspective
  • Where applicable, allow access to data for an objective look
  • Collaborate on a plan for moving forward with specific benchmarks

Just as salespeople are often only as effective as their client’s information is accurate and forthright, it’s essential you provide your outside experts with the resources to do their jobs. Whether it’s additional coaching or training, we can all use the occasional refresher to keep our skills as sharp as possible.

Though slumps can be frightening, they are often temporary. It’s important not to give in and wallow in our misery. This will only prolong the slump. Instead, we must take the steps needed to evaluate our processes, analyze our behaviors, and trust our skills. After all, when the great Steph Curry hits a slump, he doesn’t morph into a pass-first point guard. Instead, he continues to shoot his shot with the endless conviction his next three pointer hits nothing but net.