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Selling Tactics
Pulling Out Of a Sales Slump
By Jim Kasper, President & CEO, Interactive Resource Group

Whatever the cause of the sales slump, the most important thing is to not over react, but to be proactive

"I've tried everything and I can't even give it away this month!"

"I haven't made a sale in so long that I've forgotten how to act if I do."

"I haven't closed a big order in weeks."

"The last great sale I had was when I sold my car."

How many times have you heard these lines before? Maybe they've even rolled off your lips a time or two. These phrases are indicative of a salesperson suffering through a temporary business turn down, commonly referred to as a "sales slump."

A regional sales manager was counseling a veteran sales person on his recent low numbers. The manager offered, "Everyone in sales eventually has business down turns." The sales person replied, "I know that, but why me? What did I do to deserve it?"

Strangely enough, this sales representative may have done nothing to deserve his recent slump. Many sales slumps are unpredictable and are triggered by uncontrollable events. By uncontrollable, we mean circumstances like:
  • New Products or Pricing by Competitors
  • Customer Financial Problems
  • Economic Turn Downs
  • Product Obsolescence and Demand Decline
As a sales professional, you have absolutely no control over any of the above, yet they impact your performance.

The secret to pulling out of a sales slump is how to react to the situation.

The things to remember about sales slumps are:
  • Sales slumps are a temporary phenomenon.
  • The realization that you are in a sales slump often comes too late.
  • The more you complain, the more you reinforce the slump and become more frustrated with your own performance.
  • Working harder is not a good substitute for working smarter.
  • We normally become more aggressive and desperate at the wrong stages in the sales cycle.
  • Our current customers and prospects will definitely notice our frustration, desperation, and aggression.
So, what do we do? How should we react? What steps can we take to pull ourselves out of the slump?

8 Strategies to Get Out of a Sales Slump
1.    Regain Your Focus:
This is perhaps the first and most important strategy. Focus on the short term, today and tomorrow, not next month. Concentrate on selling to a focused market segment. Don't shotgun the market by trying to be everything to everyone.
2.    Re-evaluate Your Activity Level:
Ask yourself the following questions:
  • How many prospecting calls am I making?
  • What do I have planned for everyday?
  • How am I managing my time?
  • How many proposals do I have scheduled to deliver?
3.    Recover Your Confidence:
Often sales slumps can devastate your selling confidence. Instead of evaluating the situation objectively, we tend to let it affect us emotionally. To recover your confidence, practice self affirmation and positive visualization.
Self Affirmations (repeat three times daily):
  • I am a good salesperson and I can overcome this slump.
  • I know this is only temporary.
  • I can work myself out of this.
  • (Remember, you become as you believe.)
Positive Visualization:
  • Professional golfer Jack Nicklaus attributes much of his success to positive visualization. He often has said that his performance is much better when he actually visualizes his shots before he swings. Many professional athletes say that this technique puts them in the "zone."
4.    Retrain Yourself to Ask for Referrals:
This is absolutely the fastest and most reliable way to fill your prospect pipeline. Pick up the telephone and ask all of your current customers for the names of three people who could use your service or product. Securing referrals is the best ounce of prevention against a sales slump.
5.    Review Your Sales Plan:
Have you strayed from your written annual sales plan? If so, this is a great time to review the other market segments that you plan to attack. Keep in mind that a plan is just a plan and can be altered at any time.
6.    Redistribute the Time You Spend on Your Accounts:
It is human nature to spend more time with the customers with whom we are most comfortable. Because this is a less stressful situation, however, you may be dedicating too much time to friendly courtesy calls that have no customer commitment objective whatsoever. It's good to spend time with the large active account, but someday you'll pay for your lack of prospecting.
7.    Return to Resourcefulness:
Ask yourself what made your business grow? What clever activities did you perform? How tenacious were you? What did you do to illustrate your creativity? What value-added actions did you perform originally that you have let slip recently?
8.    Relieve Stress and Relax:
You can not become creative and resourceful under stress and tension. You'll feel better emotionally and physically by undertaking a rigorous physical workout program. This will also help you relax and sleep better.
Whatever the cause of the sales slump, the most important thing is to not over react, but be proactive by instituting one or all of the eight strategies listed above.

By taking a proactive and positive approach to your slump, you'll be doing something about it and not just complaining about it. Remember the old saying: "It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness!"

Jim Kasper is the Founder and President of Interactive Resource Group. Mr. Kasper has over 26 years of practical experience in direct sales, sales management, sales training, and marketing. Contact him at or call 800-891-7355

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