For Sales Managers…6 Coaching Tips to Help Your Reps Break Out of a Slump

By Colleen Francis

Paul had suddenly been experiencing major problems in his telesales career because many customers would not call him back. He estimated that up to 90 percent of customers were ignoring him. This was affecting his sales number and his commission. Normally in the top 3 reps in the office, being at the bottom was a huge blow to Paul emotionally and finally. His manager was noticing and putting pressure on him to perform but Paul did not know what to do.

Paul noticed that they usually stopped calling him back after prices were discussed. He assumed that potentials were not buying from him because they found a cheaper alternative. However, even when he lowered his price, they still didn't call back. Paul was convinced that he was right about his assessment about his prices. They were so high that customers were scared off. Next, Paul started to blame the company and his boss for his performance.

After our monthly coaching session, Paul decided to accept the idea that he just might be wrong—that maybe prices weren't the issue after all. He returned to the office and started calling customers, leaving a very specific voicemail: "I notice that you have been difficult to reach and I suspect it's either because you are worried that our prices are too high or that your project is on hold. Either reason is okay. Please call me at 111-1111 so we can determine the next steps—if there are any—together."

The end-result of Paul's efforts: his callbacks increased over 80 percent and his sales rocketed by 30 percent. As soon as his clients understood that Paul really cared and was willing to accept their decision, they wanted to talk. When they called back, they were willing to reciprocate his willingness to listen and to care. In addition, Paul found new business in many deals that had been previously stalled.

Next, he applied his newfound winning method to how he interacted with staff and other sales associates—asking more questions and checking the facts before making decisions. When someone gave him advice, he would listen carefully, with the view that the other person just might have a good point. This simple technique put his career back on track and improved his performance, putting him within striking range of becoming a top 10 percent performer in his organization…within a 2-month period.

All this success came from accepting that he might be wrong and being willing to implement new ideas

Sales people who have a poor start at the beginning of a year, or who slump part way through the year often find themselves struggling for the rest of the year to catch up. The good news is, whatever they're experiencing, we've all been there at least once. The bad news is, most of us don't know exactly how to snap out of a slump, and start making sales.

Don't get down on your team. As a coach, think about a time in your past when you were in a similar situation, and how you were able to climb out if it. Focus on that positive experience, instead of focusing on the negative.

To help you snap out of a slump and get your year back on track, try some of the following ideas submitted from Engage Selling's clients: 

  1. Reconnect to plan.

Review goals and have your team either recommit to the action plan you set for them at the beginning of the year - or create a new one! One client recalculates his plan after every month he doesn't hit his quota, to ensure his quota for the next month includes both what he was supposed to do PLUS whatever he missed last month. This helps him redefine his actions and gain clarity on exactly how many calls he needs to make, meetings he needs to secure and business he needs to close to get back on track. If you had a really bad month, you could perhaps work your underage into the next 2-3 months to make it more attainable.

2. Get back to basics.

Once, after Tiger Woods had spent hours on the practice green sinking hundreds of puts, a commentator asked him why he was still practicing considering how consistent he had been. Tiger responded: "I don't like the way the ball is rolling into the cup." That's mastering the basics.

As Tiger knows full well, problems are not usually caused by something complicated. They're usually the result of doing the simplest thing just slightly wrong. And more often than not, we know exactly what the problem is. In my experience, for example, slumps are almost always caused by not having enough qualified buyers in the pipeline - in other words, not enough prospecting. If you're in a slump, start by looking internally, not externally.

3. Change the sales presentation.

Maybe it's time to turn your presentation style upside down, or inside out. What you're doing now obviously isn't working, so if you want a different result, you have to do something different. Try starting with the end, or in the middle.

4. Encourage everyone to get to work earlier.

Yes, I know, you're already screaming at me: "Colleen, I need balance!" Not while you're in a slump, you don't. Right now, you're behind, and you need to do something about it. Only the mediocre use balance as their battle cry during a slump. So suck it up for this short period, and save the balance until you're back on top.

5. Follow a leader.

Have everyone trail the best sales person you know on their calls for a day. See what they're doing differently than you, and how you can incorporate those ideas in your business. Note that this doesn't have to be someone from the office. You can learn a lot from watching sales people in other industries, too.

6. Have them take their boss (you!) to work.

This will force your sales reps to be more prepared and on your best behavior. You'll also probably give more feedback than then want. Encourage them to use this feedback, use it to be better.

Having a slump is not the end of the world, so long as it's short, temporary and you know what to do about it.

Know what motivates you. Be disciplined - it's the one thing that separates the best from the mediocre - and stay focused on those activities that you know will pull you out of the slump. And remember to keep it all in perspective.

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Nonstop Sales Boom by Colleen Francis Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.

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