It happens to everyone throughout his or her career. Opportunities that have been identified turn out to be dead ends. Or the number of leads to pursue simply is not enough to hit the sales quota for the year. Sales slumps are inevitable. How you act is up to you.
Here are 7 tools and tips that can help you get out of your sales slump and hit your numbers by the end of the year.
1. Automate competitive research.
Sometimes the cause of a sales slump is being caused by a competitor. A new product that directly competes with your solution for the first time. Or possibly they have become more sophisticated in their marketing efforts. You can enjoy deep understanding of your competitor’s social media progress and engagement by using a tool like Rival IQ. Are they growing their Twitter audience faster than you? Have they created a LinkedIn Company Page that is really taking off? Maybe their Facebook engagement jumped 300% in the last week. RivalIQ provides you with a powerful dashboard view of your social media activity but also that of your significant competitors. Noticing significant changes in your competitor’s strategy and success can provide an early warning flag that you might need to make some changes in your approach and in your efforts.
2. Keep an eye on your sales funnel.
Many times sales slumps come from previous success. When you are delivering one sale after another it takes time to make sure that everything goes smoothly. This can take the focus away from what got you those opportunities in the first place – leads and business development activity. Depending on your industry, sales cycles can run from a few weeks to many months. When you place your focus on closing the current deals, you are not spending time on prospecting and moving fresh leads further into your sales funnel. This is possible by taking advantage of a tool like the Sales Funnel Analysis Report available in the popular Base CRM solution.
By identifying the overall funnel activity of the sales team, you are able to identify potential slowdowns and put actions in place to improve your processes. It is this type of focused, deep-dive information that can make the difference between identifying problems early and alleviating them or identifying them too late and missing your sales goals for the year.
3. Qualify and/or re-qualify your prospects.
Social media and marketing can be driving an increased number of “leads” into your sales funnel. That is a good thing.
Many of these same leads have not been rigorously qualified, leading to wasted sales time on those that are not yet ready to buy. Because they registered to download one of your companies eBooks, or attended one of your webinars does not automatically translate to a prospect worthy of your time.
Are you sure that your forecasted opportunities have been qualified? Has someone asked questions about time frame, budget, decision-making authority, current solution and competition? Use a tool like Enkata to uncover risks in your forecast.
Review your qualification methods and update where it is needed. By allowing these unqualified prospects to enter your forecast, you will notice dramatic increases in sales closures and a drop in the percentage of sales to leads.
4. Use social media strategically, be mindful of busy work.
Some sales slumps are caused because of too much activity in unproductive or unconnected ways. Social selling is getting lots of ink and talk for good reason, but if you jump into everything that social selling coaches suggest, you can find yourself overwhelmed and unproductive. Selecting tools that can help organize and automate several areas of your selling activities can be a big help in getting you out of a slump quickly.
Tools like Hootsuite or Buffer are designed to organize your social media efforts to be more effective and more efficient. By allowing you to interact on many social platforms at once you are able to free up significant time blocks during your day. The ability to schedule when your posts go out, and to which social platforms will provide significant productivity boosts.
Hootsuite provides the additional benefit of allowing you to monitor who is responding to your social posts and who is sharing and mentioning you, your company, your customers and even your competitors. Having this information can be a big help in prioritizing your sales activity for more productive results.
If you are not taking advantage of tools like these, the odds are good that you will not be doing as much as you know you should because you are too “busy” jumping from activity to activity in a chaotic whirlwind. Nothing good comes from this environment long term.
5. Boost your confidence on sales calls.
Customer call preparation, when done properly can be time-consuming. Checking their website for late breaking news, their LinkedIn Profile for common connections and interests, and their social media posts for any recent posts that let you know what they are currently working on and even struggling with takes time.
Using a tool like Refresh to gather this information and deliver it to you on your smartphone hours before your scheduled meeting, will not only save you significant time, but also provide the confidence that you have everything available about your customer in your possession. Then after the call, the ability to make notes concerning your meeting can provide a big help in increasing focus and clarity for follow-up.
6. Automate repetitive tasks and event sequences.
Each of these tools and tips above will help you improve your productivity and focus. The real power comes when you deploy each tool individually and then connect them to a powerful series of inter-locked actions that trigger the next action without your involvement.
Tools like Zapier or IFTTT give you the opportunity to connect activity on disparate tools and platforms to match your specific sales process and personal work habits. For example, the ability to send an email to a new LinkedIn connection, which then adds them as a contact to your CRM system and automatically sets a reminder to send a meeting request two weeks in the future. Automating things like this ensures that you are doing the things that you know you should be doing. As long as you customize the set of triggers to match your own personal style and workflow, the results will visible quickly and in a dramatic way.
7. Time for a vacation?
It might seem to be counter-intuitive, but this might be the best time to unplug and get away from your work entirely. When was the last time that you got away from work?
Sales is a tough, demanding job. It can grind on you and impact your perception and skills. Escaping it all with a vacation or simply a few days away from customers can be a big help. I use Trip Advisor to get ideas for a vacation.
Being in a sales slump is bound to happen. What you do to keep them as short and infrequent as possible is up to you. You are no longer left to rub a rabbit foot or wish upon a falling star to change your situation. Step into it and take control of your slowdown.
I originally published a version of this post on the GetBase.com Blog which you can read here.