How to Beat a Sales Slump

By Jeff Beals

When I hear the word, “slump,” I think of two things: baseball and sales.

Here in July, we’re right in the middle of baseball season, and some hitters are finding themselves in a slump.  Every time they step up to the plate, they strike out, fly out to left or ground out to short. It’s frustrating for a ball player to watch his batting average plummet despite trying everything he can think of to get out of a hitting slump.

Midsummer is also the time of year when many sales professionals find themselves in a slump. Prospects are on vacation and business just moves slower.  Decisions take longer to make.  But even though everyone seemingly has summer on their brains, you still have to meet your July and August goals.

Like you, I hate slumps, but as much as we try to avoid them, they sometimes happen.

I met with a client over coffee this week.  She’s a respected sales professional and has amassed an impressive record over 20-plus years selling high-value products in a handful of different industries.

She told me she had been going through a mini sales slump this summer and had just shaken free of it.

“How did you beat it?” I asked.

As it turned out, she simply phoned her best friend, another long-time sales pro, and asked her for advice.  They had an in-depth conversation.  Friend-to-friend.  Salesperson-to-salesperson. Two professionals helping each other be more successful. Two people who understand the challenges that come with selling goods and services for a living.

Actually, this phone conversation was really nothing new.  These two sales pros have been helping each other for many years.  They once worked for the same company but now they sell entirely different products.  But what they sell really doesn’t matter.  To one another they are counselors, coaches and friends.

You could call them “sales accountability partners.”

Any professional working in any industry can benefit for having an accountability partner.  In sales, a profession that requires you to work independently under heavy competitive pressure, these trusted confidants are particularly valuable.

Sales accountability partners lift you up when you need it and call you on the carpet when you haven’t accomplished what you said you would.  An effective sales accountability partner sometimes plays the role of the supportive friend and other times acts like a results-oriented boss.

Do you have a sales accountability partner?

If not, it would be worth your while to find someone who understands what you do for a living. Often the best sales accountability partners come from a different company or an entirely different industry segment.  The key is to find a high-quality person who can help you while simultaneously profiting from your advice.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 6 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Voicemail Is a Powerful Selling Tool Only If You Know How to Use It

“Telephone prospecting is a waste of time, because all I ever do is leave voicemails. Nobody ever answers the phone.”

That’s what a sales rep told me last week during one of my workshops.

His comment was not unique. I hear those words all the time.

Few topics in the sales world generate more opinions than telephone prospecting in general and voicemails in particular.  Sales reps typically don’t enjoy telephone prospecting, and many get tired of never reaching a real, living decision maker.

Make no mistake; those of us who sell for a living spend a lot of time leaving voicemails.

According to Ringlead.com, the typical sales rep leaves an average of 70 voicemails per day.  If you assume 60 seconds per voicemail (30 seconds to listen to the recipient’s greeting and 30 seconds for the caller to speak), that means sales reps spend 25 hours per month just leaving voicemails.  That’s 300 hours per year, and it equates to about 15 percent of their total work time.

So, sales professionals leave a lot of voicemails.  Is it a good use of their time?

YES!

When calling new prospects, should sales professionals feel frustrated or disappointed when they get voicemail instead of the actual person?

NO!

Instead of feeling frustrated with voicemail, be happy.  Voicemails are not bad things; they are opportunities, little advertisements that can be customized exactly to each prospect’s unique situation.  Because you are most likely going to get voicemail whenever you call, it makes sense that you put a lot of thought and effort into each voicemail.

The key is to leave a voice mail that captures a prospect’s attention by relating to what truly matters to him or her.  If you leave voicemails about your company or your product’s features and benefits you are almost guaranteed not to get a call back.

Be compelling.  Think of a strong idea you want to convey in your voicemail message and say it. Surprising or insightful messages have a much higher likelihood of being returned. Boring, rambling messages as well as messages that are too focused on the caller’s (salesperson’s) interests are easily deleted and not returned.

Don’t Give Up too easily.  You’re being naïve if you think one message – no matter how creative it may be – will do the trick. Your prospects are so busy that they just assume callers like you will eventually call them back. I’m not saying you should carpet-bomb people with daily messages, but it is now taking 8 to 12 attempts to get a cold decision maker to return your call. This is especially true with high-ranking, senior decision makers. The average sales rep gives up after only 2.5 attempts.

The two most important components of successful voicemail prospecting are 1. Persistence and 2. Messaging.

“Persistence” means you realize that voicemail prospecting is a campaign that might require multiple messages over several months in order to get an appointment with a decision maker.

“Messaging” means you have a series of voicemails that have been planned in advance that you can leave for a prospect in order to catch his or her attention with compelling or surprising information related to what you’re selling.

If your sales team needs to develop better telephone messaging, we can do a workshop in which you and I will roll up our sleeves and actually develop 12 voicemail messages that will get cold prospects to meet with you.  It’s a powerful program that has delivered results for many companies. Let me know if I can help!  402-510-7468.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.