6 Causes of Disastrous Sales Busts

Colleen Francis
Colleen Francis



Remember “cramming” in school? You tried to compress three months of preparatory work into 24 hours of nightmarish tension, and you were lucky to scrape by with a barely passing grade. Why would you subject yourself to that repeatedly as part of your career -- constant stress to be mediocre at best?

Sales cramming is caused by a sales team habitually closing little to no revenue in the early stages of a reporting period, and slowly starting to bring in more until a steep revenue jump occurs toward the end of the period.

What causes this early-stage slump? I see six explanations. This flat period is caused by sales teams that are:

1) Resting from the busy end of their previous sales period.

When members of a team cram in March to make their numbers by overworking, they are exhausted and coast for the first few weeks of April. Plus, they have come to believe that they can “make magic happen” at the end of the quarter, so why work now?

These people need an energy drink.

2) Processing all the clients from the previous month.

There are so many clients needing products, scheduling, and services that sellers are distracted by servicing them, rather than by their empty pipeline that needs filling.

These people need calm.

3) Prospecting because their funnel is dry.

At the end of the quarter it is common for team members to have nothing left in their sales pipelines because everything has been won or lost or beaten to death. As a result, the first two months of the next quarter are spent finding sales-ready leads to close at the end of the period.

These people need a compass.

4) On vacation!

Because you can’t go away at the end of the period. Vacations are more prominent at the beginning of the quarter and often disallowed at the end of the quarter.

These people need better scheduling.

5) Reorganizing.

Because the start of the period is always a good time to reorganize files, territories, desks, pipelines, sales processes, or compensation plans.

These people need organization.

6) In meetings.

That is, training meetings, account review sessions, quarterly business review, and all other internal business meetings that were put off because it was the end of the month or quarter the previous week.

These people need a break.

As the period lumbers on, revenue trickles in skewing upward as cramming starts.

One year, during a New Year’s Eve dinner party at our house, my best friend was monitoring her email for deals closing until a minute before midnight. Our dinner guests applauded her for being a real trouper. I quietly wondered, “Why weren’t those deals closed two weeks ago?” After all, in another minute she was going to be a “loser” again, far behind her goals on January 1!

Unlike roller coasters, successful sales don’t depend on deep troughs to build momentum to climb the next hill. Don't tolerate boom and bust mentalities. Focus on acheiving perpetual boom -- it is possible, I can assure you.

This post is an excerpt from Colleen Francis' new book Nonstop Sales Boom, and is republished here with permission.

Topics: Sales Strategy

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