Poor sales performance is inevitably a stage that can come and go for any product, service, or company that has something to sell.
But these sales slumps can be extra troublesome when you seem to be stuck in them, and you just cannot seem to figure out how to dig yourself out.
This is especially true if the low sales performance is due to external factors that you have no control over.
So, what is the best way to dig yourself out of a period of poor sales performance?
To get out of a period of poor sales performance, you need to act fast. Start by assessing the situation to figure out what the causes may be for lower sales. After this, you should break away from your regular sales routine, reset your goals and sales numbers, and approach the problem with a new outlook. Try different sales tactics. As you experiment, adjust as you go to fit best your product or service offerings and the market you are targeting.
The first piece of advice that is given concerning getting out of a sales slump and getting back on the horse on a universal level is not to allow the slowdown to persist for long.
Motivation is a large part of successful sales, so it is crucial not to let the temporary periods of poor performance get in the way of your long-term success.
If you do not act fast to recover from a period of poor sales performance that you may inadvertently have found yourself in, you may soon become discouraged and demoralised.
The longer the slump continues and perpetuates your negative feelings towards it, the more difficult it becomes to actually get out of it in the long run.
It’s important to remember that periods of bad performance are not exclusive to sales: they are generally something that occurs in markets, and economic models even describe them as recessions, corrections, down-periods, etc.
So, you’re not alone. Other salespeople and businesses have experienced the same lack of sales as you and have gotten out of it successfully. You can too.
Understand the Nature of the Situation
If you are a team leader who supervises others to sell, your responsibility in handling the situation and making a comeback will be drastically different from someone who is trying to improve sales performance on the level of one individual.
For an individual salesperson, the best way to face the problem head-on is to pivot and approach the entire situation differently than your current sales strategy may be set up.
For a group of salespeople where you are the manager or the supervisor, calling an office meeting and speaking with all of your salespeople is the first step to acting quickly.
Sometimes, you may need to take a step back and take a break from trying to make sales. You may just be losing motivation, which usually happens if you are going through the same motions daily and trying to sell the same thing to the same client group.
In this case, your lack of motivation could very well be playing a role in the poor performance that you are experiencing.
To prevent yourself from being the main detriment to your own success, taking a break can be one way to act fast on a period of poor sales performance.
Analyse the Slump
This next step may not seem as intuitive as the first one. Most often, poor sales performance is either caused by external factors outside your own control or by internally existing details that you do have power over.
Ideally, you want to have a situation where the causes of your low sales performance are things that are within your control. However, there is still something you can do, even if the situation is outside of what you can do.
The key here is to analyse details like your sales numbers, how many customers you have been reaching out to, and the number of conversions so that these things can give some indication as to whether the cause could be an external influence or an internal one.
In addition to your own sales numbers, you should have some context as to what is happening in the business environment around you. Some things will be evident to you.
For example, if most of your numbers come from making door-to-door type sales and, within the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, and self-isolation, have made door-to-door sales near impossible, the current economic environment is obviously the leading cause of the poor sales you may be experiencing.
On the other hand, if you are a sales manager, for example, and the agents on your team have changed, the performance of the new members in your group may have altered your numbers. You may have had veterans on your team before who produced large numbers, but those veterans have been replaced with new salespeople.
This is a situation that you have some level of control over. You know the source of the poor sales performance, and you know where you need to direct your attention to bring the numbers up again or even get numbers that are better than the ones from before.
After you can analyse and pinpoint the causes of poor sales in your circumstance, you can begin to think of ways that you can work to improve the numbers. This is not necessarily setting up a new sales plan, but it is a
Some of your solutions may be to set up training for new recruits in the latter example that was given, or it could be to learn how to be more effective in other sales channels for the first case mentioned above.
Do Not Follow Your Old Conventions
The idea behind this next step is that you cannot expect different results from doing the same thing you are already doing under the same circumstances. To pivot and improve the sales performance of your product, service, or company, a change in sales tactics is required.
Venturing away from the things you did before and moving forward to something new starts with and will, in most cases, mean changing your sales strategy. Your sales strategy is a breakdown of the critical information intended to provide clear objectives and guidance to the organisation of sales. So, there are different facets that you may need to discard in your attempt to pivot in your sales strategy.
You might need to clean the slate in terms of your sales goals. Suppose the sales goals you have in place now are overambitious and, not meeting those sales targets has made your sales performance look dismal in comparison. However, you might not be accurately assessing sales in the market you are dealing with, and discarding the old conventions that you have to find better-suited ones will help you measure an improvement in your sales performance more precisely.
In a situation where you have multiple new members on your team, and they are contributing to the underperformance, besides needing training and coaching to bring their numbers up, these new members may not be adjusting to the old system very well. In this case, it can be practical to change it to suit new members of the sales force and the changing dynamic of your team.
Another important aspect of your sales strategy that you may need to reconsider is your buyer persona and characteristics of the market that you have captured. In the example made earlier where sales were affected by a changing economic climate, though you may be targeting the same group of buyers, some of their characteristics may have changed, and provisions need to be made for that.
So, numerous things may need to be adjusted, and determining what those things are depends on what the causes of poor sale performance in the given situation are. Deciding on which of the old conventions that exist to keep and which to discard will be essential in the next step you must take to come out of a period of poor sales performance. The bottom line at this stage is that you should not be too attached to a particular aspect of your sales process to the point that you are not willing to change it if it may help improve sales. Also, though the sales strategy is crucial, other factors will come into play in the sales process that may need an adjustment or a change.
Consult Your Peers
As you discard some of your previous methods, you can also reach out to colleagues selling similar products within the same market for information. Being able to consult your peers will help you in two ways:
- They may also have experienced similar slumps recently and can offer insight on things that may have helped them recover.
- On the other hand, they can also offer motivation or direct you towards systems that are currently proving to be lucrative for them in the market.
Set New Sales Goals
Having rid your sales process of the factors that had become dead weight in the mix, it is now essential for you to set new goals that will better fit the new approach you have decided on taking.
Let’s say, for example, that previously, you would hit up ten prospects in a day and expect that you would be able to book a follow-up, get a conversation going, or close the deal with at least five of the ten prospects you reached out to.
In the current period of poor sales performance, you might want to adjust the number of conversions you can expect in a day. If this is the case, in this example, one way to do this could be to increase the number of prospects you reach out to daily. So, instead of 10 a day, you may need to go up to 20 a day.
As you set new goals, and make changes to your sales process, observe how these changes affect your overall sales. If you set new goals, have you started reaching these goals? If you changed your sales process, have you noticed any changes to the number of conversions or closed deals you have? Do not rush into expecting change. But instead, keep records of what happens so you can compare conditions and find out if what you are doing is effective for you or not.
When you are the supervisor of a sales team, setting new goals will be more involving than only analysing the facts before you. You may need to schedule a meeting with each sales rep on your team to discuss goals that are reasonable for them that will still fit into the group quota.
This may mean shifting higher numbers on to salespeople that have better performance or monitoring those with lower performance quotas more closely and setting short term goals with them so that they can be revised frequently until numbers revert positively.
Adjust as You Experiment
There can be a lot of pressure to regain your thunder and come out of a sales slump. Often, this pressure really does not help you to actually improve your sales performance in and of itself. Instead, it leaves you feeling more stressed than the period of weak sales itself might have.
This is why it is so important to understand that the new plans you create and the new goals you set do not have to be in stone. Remember that these changes were implemented because you wanted to adjust your sales process and, therefore, your numbers to suit the prevailing situation you are dealing with and to bring things up to par.
If, after a period of trial and error, you notice that the change is not significant enough or that sales performance remains at a deteriorated level, then it may be time to adjust and try something new again.
Temporarily head back to the drawing board again and look at the new numbers you will ideally have. Do this to gain further insight into how some of the things you are trying may be helping, while others may be wasting your time. With this information, make changes again that you think can help improve your sales numbers. Keep on repeating this process until you find the right fit.
Overcome Poor Sales Mentally
Lastly, it is important to note that a big chunk of the recovery from a period of poor sales performance is mental.
As we mentioned earlier, staying motivated is the reason why you want to act fast. It is the reason why you have to break your routine and try new approaches. It is the reason why you cannot get too attached to a certain rhythm of doing things if it is not yielding the results you require.
And this is all because a salesperson who does not believe in their product, service, company, or themselves, cannot recover from poor sales periods.
Once you lose motivation, you may not feel the drive to go out and prospect any longer. You may stop checking up on old accounts and following up on potential clients.
For example, there will always be potential clients who have been in the pipeline for an extended period but have not yet come out the other end. It may seem like these people will never have a change of mind, but this may not actually be the case. However, if you throw in the towel too early, you forever lose those potential sales and will never find out.
So, do not give up when it comes to sales. Remind yourself what your motivation is each time you head out prospecting or to close a deal.
So, although getting out of a sales slump can be challenging, it is a process that you are capable of implementing in your business to tackle poor sales and make a comeback.
While the information we provided above discussed how one can get out of a cycle of poor sales in-depth, there may be other factors particular to your product, service, business model, or business as a whole that may not have been considered here.
To get more industry-specific information, you should pay extra attention to the sector as a whole. Do some research to discover the factors affecting your sales performance on the numerous levels in which they exist. Add on industry and customer-specific elements to this analysis to get a better picture suited to your situation.
In conclusion, it can be rewarding to stay committed in a period of low sales and work to improve your numbers once again.
Although it can initially be demoralising to go through a period like this, it also widens your experience as a salesperson so that your resilience is better the next time a sales slump occurs.