Sales slumps happen. They are guaranteed to hit and, when they do, they put intense pressure on your team to perform. You, as a sales manager, should be prepared to lead your team out of the doldrums effectively and efficiently.
We’ve identified 6 things exemplary sales managers do to drag teams from the muck. There’s no perfect solution to sales slumps, but these techniques will help mitigate damage and keep your staff afloat through the toughest times.
Identify and address problems
When excellent managers recognize a sales rut, they first examine the situation as a whole. Ask yourself a handful of questions to help diagnose and address the situation at hand:
- What caused the slump? Was it something outside your control, such as a market correction? Or is the cause internal? Is your team fatigued? Caught in an inefficient cycle?
- Is the whole team in a slump, or just certain individuals?
- When in the past was your team at its best? What conditions led to success, and can you recreate them? Is there a common theme causing this issue?
- How is the team feeling outside of work? Is everyone healthy and making time for activity? Stress and emotion weigh heavily on the sales process and can’t be ignored.
There are no silver bullets in climbing out of sales valleys. Focus on what’s obvious, but try not to ignore the big picture.
Shift their focus toward process and productivity
Remember: sales is a science. One all-too-common mistake sales teams make during tough times is abandoning process. Desperation sinks in, and the successful past goes out the window.
It’s your job to keep your team on task. Help each team member stay stoic. Focus on your sales process and their individual cookbook behaviors. Keep them prospecting, practicing pitches, and fighting for sales as usual. There are ways to fight your team’s frustration and fatigue. Halting your standard selling process is not one of them.
Maintaining broad and lofty goals during a sales rut can result in work without focus. Instead, define clear objectives. When times are tough, turn your team’s attention to smaller, more controllable personal behavioral goals. Increase the number of prospecting calls made by 10%, or solve a specific problem for one customer. Achieving process-based goals can help your team maintain scope and keep morale from plummeting.
Encourage touches on existing customers
Remember that a primary role for sales teams is to build and maintain customer trust. Prospecting during a slump is important, but keeping your existing customers happy is always critical.
Challenge stagnant perspectives and comfort zones
During the problem discovery phase, did you find that your team was spinning their wheels? It happens to all of us. We live in routine, recycling what we’re reading, to whom we’re talking, and how we treat our jobs.
Sometimes shaking up the routine can put your team back on track. You can facilitate this for your staff without breaking sales procedure by bringing in fresh perspectives. Network with leaders in similar positions and ask them to shadow your team. Seek invaluable advice from colleagues and advisors you trust.
It may be a single member of your team in need of a refresh. In that case, have that person sell from another office for a day. By shadowing another company, that person becomes reinvigorated and brings new ideas to your process.
Pool your resources
When your team is individually focused, it’s easy to forget the team aspect. Encourage healthy collaboration and cross networking among team members.
Open teamwork can lead to fresh perspectives. However, putting everyone in a room with no direction can lead to chaos. Try taking on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ approach to productive collaboration meetings. To start a meeting, provide your team with a memo detailing the specific issues at hand. Have everyone take 15-30 minutes to read and annotate this memo before proceeding. This process aligns everyone toward a singular goal, creating a focused meeting environment.
Whenever possible, nurture an environment that’s conducive to open idea sharing. In uncertain times, your team may fear failure. Lending thoughtful consideration to everyone’s ideas leads to a more confident sales staff, especially when you put those ideas into action.
How do you manage a team when sales take a dive?
If you’ve been a sales manager for some time, you probably have survived a slump in your recent memory. Your team may be stuck in one right now. What are you doing to keep revenues and behaviors positive? What were the most effective techniques in the past that allowed your organization to endure? Tell us in a comment below!