Getting Out of a Sales Slump
How do you get out of a sales slump? How do you beat those head trips in the thick of adversity? When constant defeats and letdowns seem everywhere, how do you change the way you are feeling? Getting out of a sales slump is mentally, physically and economically exhausting. Let’s examine it.
A sales slump by description is a situation where you have selling skills, but as of late, those skills seem to have mysteriously abandoned you, and nothing that has worked in the past is working now. By nature, a sales slump starts small, began by chance, or a set of unfortunate circumstances. Perhaps your attitude wasn’t initially quite right. But, rather than recognizing those short-lived circumstances as a normal cause of disappointment, we begin to manifest negativity that transfers our reaction to the next circumstance. It becomes psychological; in fact, it becomes a small neurosis.
Disillusionment and frustration become a mindset. We start to put pressure on ourselves, and intense pressure rarely helps improve a problem of the deep psyche. We become fearful of losing the next sale, knowing now that our next sale is becoming increasingly important as our livelihood and even our careers come into the focus of our worry. Our perspective becomes self-perpetuating, self-sabotaging, and finally self-sealing—even progressing to a bit of mild paranoia. Part of the difficulty is that customers can intuitively read our uneasiness, but behind it all is a loss of confidence that has turned into a mental blockade to success. We want to get out of this slump but we just can’t seem to do it.
Sound familiar? It happens to the best of us from time to time. Confidence involves prejudging our capabilities. But, understand that confidence is embedded in our subconscious mind and therefore our subconscious mind becomes a major perpetuator of both success and failure. Accordingly, our judgements, actions and even our appearance and mood are stubbornly undertowed by the beliefs of the unconscious or subliminal. Scientist know that 95% of our mind is unconscious, so it is no wonder that some of our resultant beliefs, perceptions and feelings seem to come out of an inexplicable nowhere.
This phenomenon is not unique to just salespeople. A sales slump is like a bad run in poker. In sports, it is called a losing streak. Suddenly, you can’t hit the ball and a strike-out turns into a given. In economics, it is called a decline in consumer optimism due to some fiscal event. In life, it is called a pessimistic attitude. Extended letdowns overpower your confidence, and that douses everything else you have to offer. A cloud of unintended bewilderment comes upon our thinking and attitude.
Here are some useful mental tactics to help you through a sales slump:
Mentally detach yourself from negativity. One way to look at a sales slump is to recognize that your unconscious mind is playing a dirty trick on you. Try to examine and observe your dilemma from a mental distance–like looking out from the peanut gallery. The workings of a sales slump would be ludicrous if this ridiculous display wasn’t affecting your performance. What we must do is practice detachment which means that you stop buying into the negativity; stop embracing it with active belief, stop finding identity in it and stop defending it. Allow your awareness to deepen and start seeing through all the subconscious negative patterns in your mind.
Next, do not panic! Being self-absorbed in fear does nothing. In fact, it makes everything chaotic. Panic is an emotional state which stifles the creativity needed to overcome a sales slump. When panic edges upon us, just realize that sales slumps are a universal anomaly that happens to us all. Everything isn’t doom and gloom. You haven’t forgotten how to sell and your business is not about to end. You are simply in a rut and it will pass. What we need now is the resourcefulness for a new mindset to create a positive attitude to get back on track. Encourage yourself to operate out of imagination versus memory because the past does not equal the future. If you think it does, put your car in reverse and drive.
Do not get angry. This is not the time for a hot temper. Anger will only prove your immaturity and lack of control to everyone around you. You are not still in your terrible two’s. Furthermore, anger assumes blame. Be honest instead. You are responsible for your success. Do not beat up on yourself either. We need to stay on track. Look for the bigger picture and replace your cynical thoughts with solutions and options.
Get organized. Becoming organized relieves stress because it stops us from feeling overwhelmed. Start by making a to-do list. Most people I talk to agree that a to-do list helps motivate and increase discipline. It also prevents procrastination, organizes time and relieves stress and anxiety. But few people actually do it on a regular basis. By putting things on paper, it empties your mind of all those thoughts that keep popping up in varying degrees of importance or completion. Further, when you cross things off your prioritized list, it gives you a needed sense of accomplishment.
Change your environment and polish your look. This could be as easy as uncluttering your office. Organize your files and desk so that you can methodically find things. A chaotic work environment can raise your stress level, and that won’t help you snap out of your slump. Buy something new and different for your office. (Do not hang sales slogans in your office as it may seem manipulative and off-putting to customers.) Buy some new clothes, especially if you need to. If you do not already iron your clothes, strongly consider it. Polish your shoes. Neat appearances equate confidence and competence to your customer and to yourself. There is an old saying, “You dress for success,” and while this statement may have fallen somewhat out of favor, it is still true.
Coach yourself. Refresh your selling skills. There are so many great sales books out there that can motivate and offer different ideas on how to approach things. The Internet is full of selling and motivational tips, and this knowledge is easily accessed. Sometimes we have to do more than just think our way out of a sales slump, we must act our way out. One of my best friends is a respected real-estate motivational speaker. Do you know what he does every morning? He listens to motivational tapes before going to work to get his mind right.
Make some positive affirmations. Start by taking pride in your good qualities. Think about your achievements. Reflect on when you were having success and felt on top of the world. Recreate that positive thinking. If you find yourself isolating, step out of it. Interaction with others keeps you sane. Now is not the time to live in a vacuum or stew in blame of yourself.
Stay away from people who bring you down. They are called complainers. The ones who constantly remind us that nothing is ever right. You know who they are. Follow a leader instead. Observe the best salesperson you know. Notice their mannerisms and attitude. Discern what they are doing that works, and consider how you can integrate their methods into your approach. But keep it all in perspective; you have to be you.
Look for some little successes. Throw yourself a bone. I don’t care if you sell a small remnant to fit the back-seat windshield of a car. How about a discontinued sample for a dollar to act as a mat for someone? How about a bottle of floor cleaner? You are receiving the chance to help somebody and there is self-fulfillment in that. It creates successful interaction with a customer and that gets you out of your shell.
Follow up with some earlier customers. They are still your customers. Your follow up will be appreciated and set you apart from your competition and produces continuing relationships. Ask if they are having any maintenance problems. You may uncover some nuisances, but it is important for your psyche to follow up and solve any problems. Your follow up will be appreciated while creating referrals and return business. Importantly, you will feel better about yourself.
Do not quit! The worst thing you can do during a slump is to give up. Here is an interesting statistic compiled by the automobile industry: 78% of customers who visit the showroom buy a vehicle somewhere else. I would think that the flooring showroom is not very different. If our mental demons are not enough, nearly 80% of rejection is just a normal occurrence of selling. Of course, sales training can end a fair share of this, but you are not going to sell every customer.
When you greet a new customer, you have a fresh start. We all act in life, and when approaching this new customer, you are about to go on stage. Act like it! An actor or an actress cannot bring to the stage negative emotions and play the part of someone who is cheerful, polite, helpful and courteous. In order to feel the part, find a way to empathize with your customer. Put yourself in her position. Ask yourself: do you want to meet you? If not, correct your attitude. Your success vitally depends on it.
You must separate each customer, each sales event, each rejection, and think of them in different terms. Anything new is a fresh start. Remember, it is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us, that hurts or helps us. You need to train your mind to react to the negatives—the problems, the criticisms, the failures—no differently than you would the successes in your sales day. This inspired viewpoint must somehow become your belief and your attitude for a successful selling career.
Good selling to you!