As anyone in sales knows, there is nothing worse than a sales slump. You check your email to find out that a deal you were dedicated to just fell through. You pick up the phone and no one is answering your calls. After countless attempts to connect with prospects and land a meeting to no avail, you’ve hit a wall.
Experiencing a sales slump can make you question your ability, or worse, your entire career. Sales slumps are vicious circles of bad conversations, disappointment, and rejection and they can hit especially hard after you’ve had a successful month or quarter. But remember — there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even the most seasoned sales pros have gone through sales slumps — and usually come out of them even stronger than before.
To help you power through this dreaded period, here are 15 tried and true ways to overcome a sales slump.
1. Shift your focus.
When a sales slump hits and your quota is on the line, the first thing you want to do is jump on the phones and contact every prospect and lead you know.
But this is the opposite of what you should do at this moment.
Even though you’re feeling stressed and determined, taking a moment to relax is key. Put down your phone, close your laptop, and take a long, deep breath.
Facing rejection after rejection is enough to shake anyone’s confidence, even the most seasoned salespeople. But sales is all about your mindset, and if you’re reaching out from a place of desperation, your prospects will sense it. By taking a few minutes to relax, you can reset and shift your focus before getting back to it.
2. Review your numbers.
When one or two deals fall through at once, it can feel like you’ve completely lost momentum and you’re prepared to face a not-so-impressive quarter. But those deals don’t tell the whole story.
To get more context on where you stand compared to your average day or week, review your numbers from the last month or quarter. Are your current actions in line with your typical sales activity? Have you reached out to more or less prospects compared to last month? What was the conversion rate?
A few sales activity metrics to review in your sales CRM include:
- Number of calls made
- Number of emails sent
- Number of meetings scheduled
- Number of demos booked
You may find that the major deal you were about to close distracted you from prospecting and you made fewer calls this month. Or maybe you booked a lot of demos but the conversion rate was low. There’s always something you can improve or rework when you’ve hit a sales slump, and analyzing your activity and performance is a key step.
3. Repeat tactics that worked.
After reviewing past activity in your sales CRM, you should have identified patterns or methods that resulted in some of your highest-performing months. When you’ve hit a sales slump, it’s time to revisit those tactics.
Take a look at those numbers again. When your conversion rate was highest, what was the pitch you used? During your best month, were you closing deals that started with warm or cold leads?
Repeat what worked and tweak what didn’t.
4. Revisit leads that didn’t close.
Rejection is never easy, but facing that rejection head-on is the only way to learn from it. When dealing with back-to-back rejection during a sales slump, Cynthia Barnes, the founder and CEO of the National Association of Women Sales Professionals recommends making a spreadsheet that categorizes leads under reasons why the sale didn’t go through.
Reasons can include:
- They don't need the product
- They already have the product
- They’re under contract with another vendor
- They don't have the budget
If you notice a pattern in why most of your sales aren’t closing, then you have an opportunity to hone in on that part of your strategy.
5. Follow up with customers.
Remember, you weren’t always in a sales slump. In fact, you’ve closed several successful deals and have a list of happy customers to show for it.
When you’re feeling discouraged, why not reach out to some of those customers? Give them a quick call or send a follow-up email to check in. The goal, of course, isn’t to sell them anything, but to see how things are going and if there’s anything you can do to help.
Not only will this help maintain the relationship and let them know that you’re playing an active role, but hearing from a happy customer is bound to put you in a good mood which you can use to transition into a cold call.
Plus, you never know, your customer may actually need something and you end up closing an unexpected sale.
6. Practice consistency.
Sales slumps come and go, and the only thing you can control is the work you put in each day. Make sure you’re always ready to close a sale by setting goals and sticking to them.
Make a plan to schedule a certain amount of sales activities each day. Your schedule could look something like this:
- 8am-9am: Follow up emails with leads
- 9am-10am: Cold calling
- 10am-11am: Building a prospect list
- …and so on.
When you’re consistent in your sales activity, you should have a full pipeline and there will always be prospects or leads to follow up with.
7. Work on non-sales activities.
It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes when you’re in a sales slump, it helps to focus on activities that you’re good at that aren’t directly related to selling.
Where are you most in your element? Leading a sales meeting? Creating a pitch deck?
Channel your energy into those activities when you’re in the middle of a sales slump. Not only will this keep your spirits up, but focusing on activities that you thrive at will provide a boost of confidence and reignite momentum when your sales motivation is low.
8. Take a break.
Sales slumps can feel especially defeating the longer they go on, and sometimes that feeling can affect your day-to-day motivation.
If you’re having a hard day or week during a sales slump, don’t forget to take a break. Take a long lunch, go for a walk, exercise — whatever it is that can help clear your mind for an hour or so.
A clear mind can create room for new ideas or inspire a fresh approach.
9. Lean on your team for support.
Depending on how long you’re going through a sales slump, there may come a time when you want to let others know what you’re experiencing. Bring it up during your next team meeting or even during a 1:1 with your manager. Chances are, you’re not the only one in a slump — and you’re certainly not the first.
By opening up about your sales slump, you and your team can collaborate on an action plan or swap outreach tactics, and you might even learn a few things you haven’t tried before.
10. Seek inspiration from industry leaders.
The top salespeople are at the top of their game for a reason, but even the most seasoned sales leaders find themselves in a sales slump every now and again.
If you just can’t shake the dip in motivation, seek inspiration and tips from top salespeople in your industry. Listen to a sales podcast, watch YouTube videos, or read through motivational quotes from those who have proved to be successful.
If you need even more inspiration from industry pros, Crunchbase put together a helpful list of 54 top sales leaders to know.
11. Focus on areas for improvement.
Maybe you’re charismatic on cold calls but lose steam during a demo. Or maybe you’re great at building a pipeline of leads but get crickets when it comes time to close.
Not everyone can excel at every aspect of sales, but you can always get better in the areas that may be affecting your deals.
Seek support from someone else on your team who excels at the activity you want help with, whether that’s cold calling, pitching, or presenting a demo. There’s no better time to improve your sales skills than during a sales slump.
12. Connect with a cross-functional team.
It’s easy to get stuck in your sales bubble day-to-day, but don’t forget to pop out of it every once in a while to connect with someone from the marketing, customer service, or product teams.
You may already have regular meetings set up with these teams, but when you’re going through a sales slump, it doesn’t hurt to spend extra time discussing strategies with them.
When meeting with one of these teams, there are specific learnings to take away that can impact your sales activity including:
- Product: Is there a different solution you can position when pitching the product?
- Customer Service: What types of pain points have the service reps noticed lately?
- Marketing: Are there any industry trends or new competitors to be aware of?
13. Review case studies and success stories.
There’s nothing more motivating than reminding yourself of the success stories that have resulted from your product.
Similar to reaching out to your customers, taking a look at case studies and customer success stories can provide a boost of motivation. Revisit the different ways your company’s solution has helped customers and take note of anything that customers have said that stands out.
Not only will this help reignite your motivation during a sales slump, but it may even inspire a new idea for how you can pitch the solution to prospects and leads.
14. Accept the ups and downs of sales.
If you’ve been in sales long enough, then you know that not every month will look the same. In fact, there can be a lot of inconsistency depending on what you sell.
But there’s a reason you always have a full pipeline. Focus on what you can do each day while accepting the bigger picture of an inconsistent amount of deals closed.
If you’re in a sales slump after experiencing a highly successful month, know that the previous month will help balance this one when it comes time to look at your numbers for the quarter.
15. Recognize the slump will end.
Finally, know that your sales slump will end. Nothing lasts forever, including the dreaded slump. Acknowledge that today, this week, or this month, you will close business and get back on track.
Also, remember that you were hired for a reason. Your company recognized that you would be a star player and successful member of their team. You earned your job title. Now go pick up the phone and get selling!
Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.