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August 26, 2015

How to Bounce Back From a Disastrous Sales Drought

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Have you ever suffered a sales drought? If you have, don’t worry. They're inevitable for every business and every salesperson.

Even when you’re working hard every day, reaching out to prospects and chasing up your attempts, you might still miss your targets.

When you’re going through a sales slump, you not only face financial implications to your business, you also risk affecting the morale of your sales team. Hard work that isn’t paying off can quickly kill motivation, creativity, and passion for the job. And if you don’t see a way out, you might even start to doubt your business, as well as its products and services.

But when did a negative frame of mind ever help anyone working in sales?

When you're in the midst of a sales drought, the important thing to remember is that there is a way out. Keep reading this blog post to discover five steps that can help you bounce back.

1) Accept the drought.

At this point, you’re probably feeling pretty stressed, right?

Before you can bounce back from your sales drought, you must accept that slow periods are perfectly normal for any business. You might find this is the most challenging task, especially if you’ve never faced a problem like this before.

Most of the time, sales slumps follow a period of extensive growth and/or changes to business structure. And as you might know already, these things come naturally to any growing company. With this in mind, it’s good to acknowledge from the start the high likelihood of facing the inevitable sales drought.

So how can you make the most of your slump?

Take this time to sharpen your selling skills, search for new prospects, and reach out to your most loyal customers. What might seem like down time is in fact just brewing time for your sales force to step it up a notch.

Still feeling down? Not to worry -- you might be on the brink of a major breakthrough!

2) Revisit your sales targets.

When was the last time you revisited your sales targets and goals? A sales drought is the perfect time to evaluate where you are today and where you need to be. 

By revisiting your overall objectives, you can clearly see what has been working and what might need to change. Tweaking and making amends to your targets will allow you to more closely align goals with the current state of the business.

Remember to take both long- and short-term goals into consideration. A bit of advice from Rain Sales Training: “As you’re crafting your goals, you should also take care to take your big picture goals (e.g. making $1,000,000 a year, getting promoted to senior vice president, etc.) and align them to shorter term goals, including what you need to do this year, this quarter, this month, this week, and today.”

So how often should you be reviewing your sales goals?

I would recommend a goal review each morning before the start of the work day and at the end of each week. If you lead a sales team, strive to get everyone involved in at least one review session per month. This gives reps an opportunity to see how far they have come and what progress they have made. It's also a perfect opportunity for you to provide recommendations for changes that need to be made down the line.

3) Rebuild your prospect base.

“Each year you’ll lose 14% of your customers," Jake Atwood writes. "Lesson: Never stop prospecting.”

If this statistic proves anything, it’s that whether your business is in a sales slump or not, you should always be on the lookout for new prospects. It should come as no surprise that a lack of qualified leads is precisely what will trigger the inevitable sales slump.

To break out of your decline, start searching for new prospects. The best place to begin is your current account list. Touch base with any prospects in the past that have been swayed by a follow-up. Are you nurturing these leads? If not, now is the time to start, as nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities vs. those that are not nurtured.

Next up, use social media networks to search for new and potential opportunities. Did you know that half of all customers feel a stronger connection with companies that communicate on social media?

LinkedIn is an excellent resource for building your prospect base within a professional network. Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ can also be a great help with prospecting.

4) Reinvent your environment.

Your environment has a big impact on the way you work -- whether you realize it or not. That’s why a change of scenery or an office overhaul is an important step to bouncing back from a sales drought.

According to a MusicWorks study, 77% of businesses said playing music in the workplace increased staff morale and improved atmosphere.

Of course, it’s not just music alone that boosts mood. Try giving your office space a makeover, perhaps rejigging furniture around, introducing more natural light, bringing in plants, or adding more comfortable seating. Whatever change might improve the environment you work in every day, do it, and see how it impacts productivity.

Another way in which you can easily reinvent your environment is by taking a day out of the office altogether. A break from your everyday environment can work wonders for your mind and help you tap into your creative outlet.

Have you been dreaming of taking a day off for a while? Or maybe working from the cute little coffee shop down the road? If so, now’s the time!

5) Consider coaching.

Have you ever considered hiring a coach?

When it comes to sales, a third-person perspective can be extremely valuable to help you understand where you can make improvements and changes to your pitch. If you’re experiencing a sales drought and you’re not quite sure what's causing the problem, a professional coach might be able to identify the issue. Get a coach to sit in and listen to your calls or proofread your emails, and offer their advice and guidance on where you're going wrong.

According to research conducted by ICF Global Coaching, there are countless benefits to getting professional coaching for you and your team. Not only does coaching improve work performance, business management, and team effectiveness, it also positively impacts your team’s psychological state.

The chart below (taken from the ICG Global Coaching study) demonstrates the ways in which coaching can improve self-confidence, communication skills, and more.

Still not convinced by the benefits of professional coaching? ICG's research has shown that hiring a professional coach has an 86% return on investment rate, with a 99% rate of satisfied clients.

A sales drought might seem like the end of the world for your business. However, it’s important to remember that it’s temporary.

Understanding the psychological and financial implications a sales drought can have on your business is imperative. You may find that you and your team don’t possess the same motivation or ambition you once had to cold call or email, but by following the steps listed in this post, you can start to build back the confidence and motivation of your team while finding new qualified leads.

Remember, this is your sales drought and only you can pull yourself out. So stick with the steps above and you’ll soon break through!

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Topics: Sales Strategy

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