As a tough economy lingers, many businesses find themselves stuck in a sales slump, and don't know how to get out. As the CEO of Sandler Training, I've had the privilege of helping businesses with just that problem.
Many businesses are paralyzed in today's difficult environment. They don't have a system for success or forget what they actually know, and are merely reactive. This time can actually be a period of profit and productivity, but you must avoid knee jerk reactions that will keep your company in a rut. As I explained in the video above, sales professionals are far from being immune to some self-destructive behavior. Here are seven deadly sales sins to avoid now and forever:
- Abandon your sales procedures. When sales slow down many businesses panic, forget what they know and start throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks. They jump from activity to activity, neglecting their sales process. Stop there. A sales process tells you exactly what needs to happen in order to complete a sale. Imagine an emergency room. When a patient comes into triage the hospital doesn't try multiple check-in procedures and leave their process to chance, or things would be chaos. There are procedures and orderly steps that need to be taken every single time in order to correctly treat a patient. The same is true in sales.
- Focus on revenue only. If you want to frustrate a sales team, only focus on numbers. What you really need to consider is revenue and behaviors. To achieve your sales goal, your business needs to know which behaviors need take place in order to provide favorable sales results.
- Stop prospecting. If you want to lose long-term sales, try focusing only on your current customers. When a business gets to a certain size, employees feel like they can relax are past needing to prospect. Don't fall for this trap. Very few people like to prospect. You don't have to like it; you just have to do it. While it is important not to neglect your existing customers, you always need to be on the lookout for new customers in anticipation of the peaks and valleys throughout the year.
- Eliminate marketing and advertising. When businesses see a decrease in sales, the first costs they tend to cut are marketing and advertising. That is a mistake. Now more than ever companies must create mindshare with customers and prospects. An often missed opportunity is simply following up on all leads that are generated through marketing. For instance, research shows that only 2 percent of leads at trade shows are followed up on. Simply following up on leads could allow you to come out of the slump stronger than your competitors.
- Act like Hercules. If you really want to kill sales, create an atmosphere of learned helplessness. In fact, many sales managers do this and don't even realize what they have done. The sales manager steps in and micro-manages the day-to-day processes of their sales teams to "save the day." This tactic could backfire. Instead managers need to empower their sales people to close deals within parameters, and be responsible and accountable for their own progress.
- Believe that you're "past that." If you want to drive a business into the ground, forget what you did that made the business successful. Remember what made clients and prospects fall in love with your company, then go back to that.
- Stop planning for seasonal slowdowns. If you want to stay in a sales rut, don't plan ahead for seasonal slowdowns. Leaders should anticipate months or times of year when sales trend down and feed the sales funnel before these occur. If you know your business will be slow during the holidays, feed your sales funnel now.
By avoiding these deadly sales sins you just may come out of 2010 stronger than ever.
For over 20 years,David Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training, has been a trainer and business consultant in management, sales, interpersonal communication, corporate team building and strategic planning throughout the U.S. andEurope.