Probably every salesperson I know has times when they seem to hit a bump in the road … their success starts to dry up, their numbers decline and they have trouble recovering.
For many the answer is to ride the slump down until inevitably they get fired.
For others they will see the writing on the wall and go looking for another job, which they will win based on their past performance.
The right answer is to accept that things need to change and to take charge of your own destiny.
There are some realities to contend with:
- Key clients go through cycles and sometimes suppliers fall out of favor.
- Competitors evolve and find ways to beat you.
- Clients can fall into slumps and demand drops off.
There are many reasons why your sales performance may be impacted, even if (maybe even because) you are still doing the same things you always did!
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Tony Robbins
As a salesperson you can never get too comfortable. You need to be always looking for your next opportunities, while ensuring that your current opportunities are being well served. It is a balance that most salespeople find difficult.
A common refrain will be, “How do I find time to prospect when my current clients are so busy?”
There is no comfort in the answer, but it is a classic time management issue … you need to MAKE the time, MAKE it a priority and ACT on it.
Each salesperson needs to find the balance that will work for them, in their specific situation.
A new salesperson with a relatively small base of clients may spend 80% of their time on generating new business and 20% of their time on servicing the existing clients.
An established, senior salesperson might find themselves spending 90% of their time servicing their existing client base and 10% of their time (1/2 a day per week) in prospecting.
Most will find themselves somewhere in the middle.
Sales is about momentum … if you have it, things are good; if you lose it, things are bad!
The obvious answer is to take charge of your own destiny and create momentum!
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour day.” Zig Ziglar
What does that look like?
- Devote time to prospecting.
- Understand how much time you spend now.
- Increase it … if you are doing nothing, then spend ½ a day per week on pure new business development.
- Every month evaluate your current scenario, and increase your prospecting efforts accordingly. If new business is coming at an acceptable rate then OK, if not then spend a day a week and more if necessary.
- Recognise at certain times you will need to work even harder than usual … so a day a week might not be 20% of your time!
- Build your list of key contacts.
- You should always be bringing value to your contacts … over and above the services you sell!
- Have as many face to face meetings as you can manage. Use breakfasts, lunches, coffees, drinks after work, networking events … as tools.
- Use hand written cards to thank for business, congratulate on promotions, celebrate events etc.
- Get referrals.
- NEVER become dependent upon a few very key contacts.
- Try to generate “coaches” … clients who will go the extra mile to help you!
- Focus on high return activity.
- Your goal is to grow business … is your activity furthering that goal?
- Always build on relationships … make deposits into the emotional bank account!
- Find reasons to be in contact with your client … interesting articles, industry news, newsletters, in addition to your regular meetings.
- Always be professional with your client’s/prospect’s time … use agendas to make sure your time and your client’s time is well spent.
Sales is hard work … but it is also extremely rewarding.
You should NEVER have time to wonder what to do.
You should NEVER have time to waste.
“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.” Alan Lakein
You should become a Time Management Ninja!!!
If you are doing these things then you will create that momentum which will serve you well, and you will be serving your clients well too!
If this topic interests you then here are a couple of older blog entries that you might find useful …
Rescuing Salespeople from a Slump
Salespeople and the Comfort Zone
Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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