If you’re in sales long enough, you learn to accept and even enjoy the slow periods as much as the busy ones. Sales slowing down doesn’t mean that you, as a salesperson, can slow down too. In fact, slow sales periods mean sales professionals need to speed up their creativity to stay ahead in the game. So, you need to learn how to increase sales during slow times.
How to increase sales during slow times
Today we’re going to focus on things that are in your control. You can’t change your number or the economic outlook. Don’t drive yourself insane. (Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing again and again while expecting a different result?) Instead, take a moment to re-evaluate everything: attitude, strategy, skills, and activity.
Let’s start with that last one: activity.
Am I doing the right things?
Check your activity
When work seems to be “slowing down,” the easiest thing to do is increase your activity! More calls! More emails! More social touches! Heck – even open a new channel! Have you tried sending old-fashioned letters? What about reaching out to prospects with video or going through industry groups? When in doubt, send one more email, or pick up the phone one more time.
Activity volume is always the first metric that management will check when performances lag. In most cases, it isn’t micro-managing – sales is a numbers game. If you’re not doing the minimum activity, it’s harder to get the results. Plus, the more activity you have, the more data your manager has to look at to help you improve. We’re not saying that you should sacrifice quality for quantity – but when it’s slow, you cannot afford to ignore the latter.
Check your messaging
When your cadences, email templates, and messaging stop working, it’s time to switch things up! This is the world telling you it changed, and you need to evolve with it!
Get creative – try rephrasing your value proposition or taking the time to build a new one. Get help – ask your peers what’s working for them (and discuss what isn’t working so you don’t repeat mistakes). Get experimental – have a crazy idea? When things are slow, the stakes are low. You’ll risk less and have a great chance to find out what works!
Is my strategy bringing me the business I need?
Lean into your personas and ICP
Unless you’re launching a new product during a slow season, it is not the time to open new markets. Focus on finding every niche you haven’t explored before. Check the database for old matches that qualified out ages ago and try to re-engage. It will be easier to re-engage stalled deals or prospects than to go find net new business.
Increasing the time spent researching to find solid ICP fits will be rewarded, whereas exploring new use cases and markets have no guarantee of success. Going for the new is a big risk, big reward scenario. If you choose to play that game, do it wisely.
Organize your life
Sales habits and routines are built during slow times. When it’s busy, the focus has to be on surviving and making sure nothing slips through the cracks. When it’s slow, the focus should shift from efficiency to establishing routines. Use the slow time to pay attention to your organization. Figure out what works and repeat it until it becomes a habit. Then, when it gets busy again, those habits will sustain you.
Set a daily schedule! Put everything on your calendar, from coffee breaks to check-ins with your boss, to scrolling on LinkedIn. If you don’t track it, you don’t (really) know how much time you’re spending doing it. Note where your time is going and adjust. Bonus points if you take your calendar to a coworker or mentor and ask for feedback! Getting a fresh perspective can be a big productivity boost.
Do I have the right skills to get where I need to go?
We all know it’s important to seek out opportunities to up our sales game. Slow periods create a chance to make skill development a habit. Beyond building your skillset, those slow sales phases will encourage you to indulge your curiosity.
Take a little time and treat yourself! Listen to an episode of INSIDE Inside Sales. (We suggest you start with Andy Paul’s Interview talking about “Increased Earnings Start with Increased Learnings”). Read that sales book your boss recommended. Watch some webinars to improve skills called out as needing work in the last performance review. Baby steps add up. Take the time and invest in yourself.
How are you doing – really?
Now we’re going to get serious for a moment. Sales is a challenging profession, and when things are slow, it’s even more mentally draining. Stress brings out all of our worst habits and can make things feel far worse than they really are. It’s easy to see colleagues and role models posting about “killing it” on social media while you feel useless. Just remember – you’re not. All sales professionals struggle with slow periods and lapses in confidence.
Get help if you need it.
Mental health must be a priority if you want to succeed. Sales professionals are more open with their struggles than ever. (Thanks in big part to organizations like Uncrushed.) There is no shame in needing a mental tune-up – the same way a car needs maintenance, or your body needs a workout. When you’re in a “slow time,” it becomes far too easy to feel like it will never end. Don’t give up.
Half of the adult population will battle a mental health issue at some point in their life. (Source) That also means half of your peers – you are not alone.
If you feel lost and hopeless, reach out and ask for help. Leverage your network if you’re comfortable sharing your struggles – let them cheer you on and offer support. Seek the guidance of a counselor or psychologist who can help with coping strategies and identify what other resources you need.
If you’re suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (US) or 833-456-4566 (Canada). You are too valuable to lose even if you don’t see it yourself. Your coworkers, client, and community need you. Please keep fighting.
A final thought
There are no easy answers to big problems. In the great weirdness that is 2020, the connections between people and products are more evident than ever. The inability to fix the problems facing our world can feel unbearable. You can and will get through this. It’s impossible to know what’s on the other side, but it can only be better if the steps above are followed and if you lean on the sales community for support.
We’re not alone. We’re not helpless. Instead, we choose to focus on what is in our control to compensate for our inability to control that which we can’t. Slow periods will happen – use the time to reset yourself, your skills, your strategy, and your messaging. If nothing else, you’ll learn something! That is the key to riding out the peaks and valleys – making sure you learn something from every experience.