My company was in a sales slump.
Yet still, the monthly sales dashboard had a lot of white space.
Understand something here: I take this personally.
I've been in sales most of my career. I've sold millions of dollars worth of stuff. I've probably closed thousands of deals. I've hired and trained hundreds of salespeople and sales managers. I've sold three companies.
Despite all that success, I'm not immune to the slump. So there I was. Mired. Stagnate. Dry. In a funk. Slumping.
I currently have a team of three salespeople. For my technology startup, a good month is 12-15 normal-sized deals plus a whale. As I sat there on about the 25th of the month, I was peering down at four closed deals. Four deals that I'd stretch to put in the "normal" category.
When you're in a slump, the pipeline seems to narrow and every potential deal gets magnified. In this mode, you tend to make some unforced errors. You put too much pressure on a prospect too soon. You offer deep discounts just to ring the bell. You take on an aura of desperation that prospects lock in on. It can spiral quickly. With each turn of the calendar, the pressure mounts, until you feel the weight of the world pressing down.
When will this slump end?
In my case, it has to be heal thyself. I'm the CEO. I'm also Chief Sales Guy, VP of Motivation, and Director of It's My Job to Turn This Ship Around.
So, I dug into my old bag of tricks.
I keep everything. Parts of my office look like a paper recycling center. Right on cue, I found a three-step session I did for a company called Slump Busting for Dummies.
Here it is for you:
1. Treat every at-bat like it's Opening Day.
Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees, once famously said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."
Any Major League Baseball player would tell you that the trick to getting out of slump is to ignore the idea that you're in one. When you approach every at-bat like it's the first at-bat of the season, you force yourself to forget that you're hitless for the month.
The same can be said for getting out of a sales slump. Approach every day like it's the first day of the month or quarter. Forget the recent losses. Enter the box with a clean slate and an opening day mindset. After all, like baseball, sales is 90 percent mental.
2. Little things are big things.
Instead of fixating on the blank sales scoreboard, shift your focus to the building blocks that lead to success. Many slumps can be attributed to not consistently doing these very things. Keep making the same number of daily calls. Keep your email habits solid. Get up early and stay a little later.
When I audit a sales slump, I often find just a slight wobble in the attention to these little details. It doesn't take much. To bust out, do these little things right.
If you do the right things that lead to winning, you'll eventually do just that.
3. Systems beat talent, every time.
My favorite little sales mantra of all time is this one: "If you do not have a successful selling system of your own, you will by default work under the buyer's system."
I love this concept. I also know the absence of a system wrecks more sales goals than any crafty competitor or slip in effort. A repeatable process, both before and during calls creates a disciplined approach that establishes structure.
The best salespeople I have witnessed have first been good at executing a system. Almost counterintuitively, a disciplined system allows them to be more natural. Their system allows for creativity and thought within a structure built for winning.
While mired in a slump, stick to a system you know produces wins.
We eventually pulled out of the dive. Slowly, at first, deals started happening. Then a big one came around, and then another. Getting out of a slump usually happens slowly. For us, it wasn't a floodgate that opened back up but a trickle that turned into a stream that turned into a spring with an occasional geyser. Win after win.
Treat everyday like Opening Day. Treat little things like big things. Stick to a process you know produces wins.
This slump has no chance.