At some point in their business career, everyone in sales will experience the “sales slump.” It’s a sad truth but a truth nonetheless. In these dark times, one must understand why and how the slump happened in the first place.
- Is it the result of a dried up pipeline?
- Did a major client defect to the competition?
- Has the market become oversaturated?
- Is your closing rate too low?
If the answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, one should certainly expect a sales slump.
And while these situations do not occur overnight without advance warning, some people are so struck with fear, anxiety, frustration, and plain sadness that they forget the salesperson’s mantra: when the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Here are four ways to persevere in tough times and end the sales slump:
1. Mine the Gold in Your Existing CRM Database
Many businesses are always hunting for new clients yet do little to nurture and grow the ones they already have. Salespeople should never abandon efforts to expand their prospect database; however, when prospecting negatively impacts existing relationships, it’s time to get back to those you know. When sales are slowing down, take a look at your CRM database and explore opportunities to:
- Cross-sell and upsell existing clients
- Reactivate dormant accounts
- Reconnect with old prospects
- Contact companies to which you already submitted a proposal but did not win the work.
In each of these cases, you have a better chance of generating short-term projects than if you are reaching out to cold names and soliciting new work. Remember: you already established credibility and recognition with clients in your existing database, and that is gold!
2. Network More Strategically and Define What You Need
A sales slump calls for networking with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Revamped networking activity must also be more strategic to be effective. By this, I mean take a closer look at the meetings and events you attend: What are the potential business opportunities or referral sources? Will you generate any true business leads? Do you feel you are “wasting time?” Perhaps you should explore new groups and events if that is the case.
The second critical component of strategic networking is to clearly and succinctly define what you need. If you are able to communicate how people can help you, it’s possible you will identify an unknown referral source or even a direct client.
3. Form Strategic Alliances Where They Did Not Exist Before
Let’s face it: a sales slump is never the right time to go it alone. Other salespeople, companies, and partners can provide the much-needed benefit of a strategic alliance. A strategic alliance should provide increased business opportunities to all of the parties involved. By offering clients increased services or products and enhancing the deliverables, you should be able to garner some additional clients or even supplemental “add-on” work – oftentimes without an extensive delay.
4. Market More Aggressively from New Platforms or Angles
When sales are slow, one cannot make the mistake of disappearing from sight. Instead, the slump is the moment to ramp up marketing efforts with the goal of increasing visibility and name-face recognition. You must soften the market with new platforms or angles before you reach out and try to persuade potential clients or customers of business’s benefits. Consider a combination of direct mail, telemarketing, print or digital advertising, social media, PR, trade show efforts, email campaigns, and be patient knowing these endeavors may not generate the quick fix you so desperately want.
It is most important to remember that the sales slump requires a strong gut and head check. No one said it was easy to be a top-notch salesperson. You must keep up morale, be proactive, and believe that the slump will end the sooner you get moving!