The Eagle Blog

Rescuing Salespeople from a Slump

Quote start to be great by ZiglarOne of the things that makes the sales profession tough is that you are only as good as your current performance, which is very measurable!  It becomes very obvious when a salesperson is not being successful and in addition to the obvious lack of numbers there is a tendency to spiral downwards.

The formerly motivated, energetic and productive salesperson descends into a funk!  They lose that energy, they seem “adrift”, unmotivated and not sure what to do next.

Where they had previously been very focused on their role, they are easily distracted focusing on activities that are “busy” tasks, rather than delivering business!

Their productivity is easily measured, but it will be not just the bottom line that suffers.  There will be less phone calls, less meetings and less orders coming in.

Essentially they will give up, and either start a job search or  just wait for the axe to fall when their employer loses patience.

These times can happen for many reasons … it might be a general turn down in the economy, an impact on that salesperson’s specific territory or they just become too comfortable and neglect the fundamentals!

In sales we reap what we sow, and if we sow a little less this week we will feel the negative effects next week … that is the start of a really slow spiral downwards!

Luckily … a good sales manager will recognize the pattern and understand that action is needed!  They need to find a way to get their salesperson back into the rhythm, to move from Ineffective to Effective!

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”  Vince Lombardi

The first step is for the salesperson to admit to themselves that they are in trouble, but also they need to be willing to do the work that will get them back on track.  The “lucky” salespeople will inevitably be those who put the work in!

“The harder I work, the more luck I have.” Thomas Jefferson

The salesperson needs to have a plan that has clear activities, timelines and goals.  The way to get to these actions is to ask a lot of questions.

  1. How many key contacts does the salesperson have?
  2. Have they all been contacted lately?
  3. Is there a method to bring those contacts value over and above the service they pay for?
  4. Where are the opportunities?
  5. What are the key messages that will resonate in today’s climate?
  6. How many meetings can the salesperson generate?
  7. Who else could get in front of clients to generate interest?
  8. What networking does the salesperson do? Is it enough and in the right places?
  9. How many ways does the salesperson keep in contact with their prospects? Email, phone, in person, hand written cards, social media?
  10. What can the salesperson do differently that will spark a different and motivating approach?  This could be a change in hours, work location, even a change in look (a new wardrobe can help with confidence).
  11. Is there training/coaching available that will keep the salesperson motivated?

A good manager asking these questions can help the salesperson to identify many ways in which they can get re-motivated.

Get some new crisp shirts and start wearing a tie … just to feel good about yourself.   A female rep might buy some new clothes, shoes, accessories … whatever makes them feel good!

“Today is always the most productive day of your week.” Mark Hunter

Change up your hours, come in a little earlier/stay a little later to get the momentum going!

Call clients at specific times and see which times work best for which clients.  Some people like to start early and others like to stay late.

Start a campaign of hand written cards with simple messages.  These should be hand written (no excuses about poor writing … slow down and write nicely!) and have a personal note.

“Stop selling.  Start helping.”  Zig Ziglar

Share valuable information with these people … industry articles and white papers, statistics and facts, book summaries and market data are just some ideas.

Establish a rhythm for meeting with people and track it in the company CRM.  Some clients should be contacted more often than others.  Some like mostly email, others prefer voice.  Establish a regular face to face routine.

Re-establish links with old contacts.  Former clients of the salesperson or the company.  Alumni from school or previous jobs, or even ex-employees of this company.

Find new contacts.  Get referrals, network more, cold call (yes I suggested the “cold call” … but in the 21st century that may be through outbound/inbound marketing techniques).

Establish a routine that ensures the work happens without interruption.  Do not take unrelated phone calls, or address unrelated emails … be very focused on this activity.

Set goals for numbers of calls, meetings and expected outcomes … new orders, and closed business!

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Abraham Lincoln

This level of activity should develop a tangible momentum, resulting in some successes.  This in turn will give a confidence boost, which will be seen in a return to the successful salesperson you knew they could be!

“Confidence and enthusiasm are the greatest sales producers in any economy.”  O B Smith

The trick once the momentum is going, is not to slack off!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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