In sales, like all things, our performance is inconsistent. Even the best, most solid of us have times where we perform below normal, and even the worst of us sometimes perform magnificently. The result is a sales slump. What gives? Luck. Really!
Let’s think about the biggest reason it might not be your fault: statistics. Every time you flip a fair coin, the chance of it coming up heads is 50%, because that’s the number of possible outcomes, or 1 over 2. (You’ll never get both results from a single flip.) If you flip 5 heads in a row, the chance you’ll flip a heads on your next toss is still 1 in 2, because the coin still has two sides. (There is a human tendency to think the results of the previous flips will change the odds, but it really doesn’t work that way! Learn more here: The Gambler’s Fallacy.) How can that help us in sales?
Statistics tell us that stretches of positive outcomes and stretches of negative outcomes will happen. The reason this is good news is that if you haven’t closed much lately, the odds are reset to normal every time we knock on a prospect’s door. Enter the sales slump. You’re no more likely to have a negative outcome if you’re in a “slump” than if you were on a “winning streak” if all other things are equal. It’s just like the coin flips – the previous sales call has no effect on the next sales call. (We’re still assuming you are not suddenly less capable and talented, you’re just in an unusual patch of bad luck.)
But sometimes it’s hard not to let self-doubt creep in. After several unsuccessful sales calls in a row, we begin to dread adding another failed sale to the list. What’s a nervous sales pro to do? Snap out of it! Dread will put you an a frame of mind that “primes” you to expect defeat. Your language and tone of voice change, and your customer will quickly lose confidence in you and the product. If you psych yourself out, you will be the problem.
Sales call planning
Instead, run through a checklist of the information you need to convey before you meet with your customer. Review any goals the customer is trying to achieve. If you don’t know their goals, make sure you plan to learn them. Doing this will remind you that you do, in fact know what you’re doing, and are properly prepared. Then, go into your meeting with confidence that you can help your customer achieve their goals by buying your product.
Still feeling a little nervous? Play your stereo loudly and sing along to an upbeat song. Studies show this increases mood and confidence, even if you’re a lousy singer! Remember how well you did in closing a few difficult deals, and how good you are at helping customers achieve their goals. Positive visualizations and self-talk are also backed by science as mood-lifters and performance-enhancers. Calm down, cheer up, and go get ’em!
If your slump is, in fact due to some problem on your part, it will become clear soon enough. Each sale will break down in the same place, or you’ll be defeated by the same objection over and over. That problem is easier to fix – you can pinpoint the problem and train yourself accordingly!