Stop Sales Slumps
In this issue of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report, we want to tackle a subject that is so critical to the success of any sales organization – what do you do when a salesperson is in a slump? Let’s dig right in and take a look …
We’ve all seen it before. A salesperson who is highly successful hits a slump and suddenly they can’t sell portable heaters to an Eskimo. Not even FREE portable heaters! The longer the slump goes on, the worse things get. If you’ve had this happen to you or one of your salespeople, what do you do?
First, it’s critical that you realize how critical it is to get out of the slump as quickly as possible. Leads are expensive. A slumping salesperson is costing you thousands of dollars in lead costs but also tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales each week.
The next big problem is that, for the salesperson, slumps become self-perpetuating. The longer they go, the more deperate the salesperson gets and, the more desperate they get, the harder it is for them to close deals. This is because they start to focus on their own success (or lack thereof) rather than on the success of the client. Undertsandably, they worry more about feeding their family than helping the prospect to a good decision. When this mind-shift from focusing on the customers to focusing on themselves occurs, it will be impossible for them to break out of the slump without some form of outside intervention.
When you have a salesperson in a slump, here are the steps to take:
- Search for distractions in their personal life. Problems at home? A new relationship? A failing relationship? Substance abuse issues? Other concerns? While we like to draw a line between personal life and business, if something like this is impacting their performance at work, then it serves you both to get the salesperson’s mind and focus to a better place. It benefits you both if you can help them deal with these things in ways which make them more focused on their job.
- Look for morale issues at work. Has something changed at work? Has a friend left the business? Has someone new joined the business? Has a policy or procedure changed? All of these things can affect attitude and also establish “head trash” swirling around in their brain which leaves them unmotivated or, worse yet, negative. Things like this need to be confronted with compassion and concern for their wellbeing, but yet very directly in order to protect your organization. Work to help them obtain a better attitude.
- Do not accept their excuse that the problem is the leads! You will hear this but don’t fall for it – and don’t let them fall for it either! The problem is never the leads – it is always their implementation of the sales process, or else, if something truly is changing in your marketplace, then it may be that your sales process needs to be adjusted. In all likelihood, though, the salesperson, whether they realize it or not, is short-changing your proven process for sales success. They are skipping something, or not putting enough effort into certain aspects of the process. (It could even be something so seemingly harmless as a knee problem that is suddenly preventing them from climbing steps for the attic inspection!) Regardless, you need to review the sales process with them and work to get them re-connected to the process as fast as possible. A common “missed step” we see in regards to the sales process is the salesperson not committing adequate time to selling themselves as the knowledgable and caring expert who can help guide the client to a wise decision.
- Refresh the salesperson’s focus on needs-analysis with their clients. Oftentimes, desperate salespeople are anxious salespeople. They rush headlong into the presentation, ready to slide into home with a close … and they end up skipping the whole part of discovering the prospect’s pain and learning what they need. Remind them that, until they can learn what the client needs, they are not selling to a friend but rather they are just randomly performing for a stranger. Sales is about discovering the client’s needs and presenting a solution. It is about serving the client, not about trying to capture a commission check.
- Debrief them after each sales appointment to determine what went well, what didn’t go well, and what parts of the presentation they skipped – do not take “none” for an answer! There is always something they skipped or at least short-changed. You need to find what they are skipping – there may even be multiple things. And then, once you discover it, “practice practice practice”and “rehearse rehearse rehearse” to get them back to the basics.
- This is something that should be required of all salespeople at all times but, especially with the salesperson in a slump, require their attendance at weekly sales meetings and force them to practice all parts of the presentation again and again and be quizzed as to why various parts of the presentation are so critical, and exactly what they are trying to accomplish each step along the way.
- If you still are not successful at getting them out of their slump, pull them off of their own appointments for awhile and have them ride with another salesperson, giving them a chance to see the sales presentation and demo be performed on an optimal basis. Have them join a salesperson who is selling jobs. Do this for no less than two weeks to help them re-train their behaviors.
- Finally, once they have spent time with another salesperson, before you throw them to the wolves out on their own again, go along with them on appointments for at least a week. This is your commitment to letting them know they are valued and appreciated, and that their actions and behavior are critical things for which they will be held accountable. Provide them with oversight and immediate feedback.
By making sure that the slumping salesperson is clear of distractions, getting them back to basics, and holding them accountable, you can turn them into a superstar once again!
Please feel free to contact me anytime. I am always happy to discuss anything that may enhance the success of your organization.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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