Whether it’s a run of bad luck or just an off stretch, nearly everyone goes through slumps. Even the greatest athletes will experience droughts of individual success. In most cases, things correct themselves and return to normal. But what about cases where it continues? That points to a potentially more fundamental issue. And in sales, both the possible originating malady and prescriptions for cures for slumps are large in number.
Broadly speaking, however, the sources of slumps can be put in general buckets.
The Mental/Emotional Cause
When you’re in a prolonged slump, there tends to be a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Your mood worsens and that in turn affects how you perform and engage with buyers, thereby extending the streak.
For these fractures of confidence, Gustavo Bianco, Global Manager of Customer Success at Pipedrive, advises, “Get over the pressure to perform. Remember that sales requires consistency and persistence – few hit their sales quota in a single day.”
Sales managers can likewise implement a variety of strategies to help shore up struggling reps. Jack Choros, Sales Manager at Iron Monk Solutions uses a multi-pronged approach, noting, “I tend to offer our staff cash bonuses when we’re struggling to hit our numbers, but sometimes I give them a break and let them focus on or learn a different part of the business.”
Having employees learn a different part of business makes them more well-rounded and versatile – thereby progressing their individual careers and adaptability to perform different roles in the company if needed.
The Customer Interactions Cause
Another primary source is errors in engaging with customers. The specific details can include things such as timing errors, which sales reps might not even realize they’re making or there’s an issue with the presentational aspects of the sales rep or the meeting space.
Jayson DeMers, CEO of EmailAnalytics, highlights this, pointing out, “Research suggests that between 35 and 50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor. Lead qualification drops 10 times if you wait longer than 5 minutes to respond.” His suggestion? “Respond really quickly to new leads.”
Baron Christopher Hanson, Owner of RedBaron USA, notes that poor customer interactions can be tied to physical presence. “In our experience, sales slumps are often linked to poor appearance, boring sales pitch, or less than stellar sales rep attitudes. What’s more, the meeting place where leads and old customers become new sales is likely drab. The sales rep, their presentation, and/or the meeting might need a makeover or refresh.”
The Sales Fundamental Cause
Another possible source is a problem with the sales fundamentals. This can occur even with top-performing, tenured reps. As Jordan Brannon, President and COO of Coalition Technologies observes, “A lot of times when we see successful career B2B sales reps get off pace in close rate or order value or other metrics, we find they’ve slipped into a set of habits that don’t align with the core sales values or strategies of the company. His remedy for correction is, “Get back to the basics.”
Bianco suggests asking a series of questions to identify fundamentals gaps: “Take a hard look at your day-to-day activities and be honest with yourself – are you doing enough to drive a sale? Do you have enough leads? Are you able to qualify those leads and pursue the strongest ones?”
Cience’s Chief Marketing Officer, Eric Quanstrom, advises digging deep into the granular level: “Record and Monitor. With the abundance of Conversation Intelligence tools out there, there’s no excuse for not reviewing your own sales call performance. It’s amazing how easy it is to eliminate verbal ticks, weak language, and bad talk tracks by listening back to your sales calls.”
Hanson also points out that the slump could be symptomatic of a wider organizational strategy weakness: “If there’s an advertising, marketing, or direct mail/email campaign in place, perhaps that all needs a rethink and refresh.”
As all of this advice and our own observations reveal, sales rep slumps can range from individual bad sales rep habits to a foundational organizational strategy flaw. Careful research and study on the part of sales leadership will need to be done to identify the precise root cause and then proceed with a solution – whether one outlined by the experts presented here or another method that best fits the situation.