In his book “Getting Started as a Freelance Writer,” Robert Bly details his highly technical three-step process for getting out of a writing slump. Ready? Here goes:
- Do Something
- Do More
- Keep Doing It
While this strategy is designed for writing slumps, it works just as well to conquer a bad sales slump.
When you have an unsuccessful day, it's depressing. When you have an unsuccessful week, it can cause a feeling akin to panic. The longer a sales slump goes on, the stronger will become the instinct to stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head and avoid human contact.
Since your sales manager probably won't let you do this, the next closest approach—and the one many salespeople adopt—is to avoid selling anything. A salesperson who's having trouble might bury herself in paperwork, take three-hour “business” lunches, schedule appointments an hour's drive away to spend as much time as possible on the road, etc.
The problem with this coping strategy is clear—if you don't sell, you won't make any sales. This is blindingly obvious to someone in a clear state of mind, but if you're mentally paralyzed from a lack of sales you're probably not thinking it through. Instead of avoiding sales situations, you need to seek them out as much as possible to break out of the slump. Try to hand off as many non-sales-related tasks as possible until you break out of the slump. For example, see if you can be excused from staff meetings and hand off paperwork to an admin.
If you would normally make 20 cold calls per day, instead make 40 or 50. Or you could simply decide to keep calling until you have five appointments, even if that means you spend ten straight hours on the phone. Talk to all your existing customers and see if you can upsell them new products, or ask them for referrals.
Whatever sales activities you normally pursue, do more of them—lots more. Now is also the time to try sales techniques outside of your normal comfort zone, whether it's sending out a direct mail package or launching a social networking campaign on Twitter. Do you have an account on LinkedIn? Hit up your contacts for referrals or even pitch them directly.
Keep Doing It
You probably won't see instant results on whatever strategies you adopt. If you're still in panic mode you'll be inclined to drop it and try something else. Resist the urge. Sales techniques rarely yield immediate results even in the best of times, and obviously, if you're having bad sales you're not in the best of times.
Give each sales method a chance to work... a few days to a week at least. If you're still not reaping any benefits, then table it and try something else. And if you do start to see results on a particular strategy, do more of it! Stubbornness and persistence are the keys to defeating a bad sales slump, and those are qualities most salespeople have in abundance.