Every sales team will experience times when objections are rife, conversions are low and reps start to hear 'no' much more than they hear 'yes'.
Over sustained periods, this may lead to people or even your whole team losing motivation - and that's when morale can dip and sales really begin to suffer.
Every sales manager has been there, and it's frustrating for everyone when skilled personnel start to experience real difficulties with closing deals.
Fortunately, there are always actions you can take to set underperforming teams on the road to recovery.
1. Work out the real problem
Dissatisfaction can manifest in a number of ways, so it's vital to get to the bottom of what's really causing your sales slump. To do this, you might want to try the classic '5 Whys' model pioneered by Toyota.
This gets managers to ask why several times to strip a problem down to its bare bones and make solutions seem clearer. For example, you may start with the underperformance issue and ask 'why' until you get to the root cause of the problem.
The technique could help you to delve deeper into common complaints on your team or obstacles that are hindering performance.
2. Check teams have everything they need
It's a common misconception that all salespeople need is a phone and their wits. Actually, having a relevant set of tools could make all the difference, starting with good cloud-based customer relationship management software.
This will allow them to collaborate more easily with their co-workers and keep track of calls and clients, making them generally more organized. Similarly, fast, reliable computers and high-quality headsets could boost focus and improve multitasking.
Don't forget that training also falls into this category, as it will boost your team's mental toolbox. Indeed, companies that provide solid coaching could improve their annual revenue by 16.7%, SalesDrive found.
3. Have a plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail, so having a well-defined sales pathway to follow could make the difference between keeping pipelines full and working the phones for hours to no avail.
Introducing a playbook could help to make your team more effective and productive, which should lift morale. Indeed, a past study by the Harvard Business Review found half of top-performing sales organizations work to a playbook to guide reps through the buyer journey.
Think of it as a flexible guide to help salespeople know which tools and techniques to use to turn cold calls into hot leads.
4. Set goals
Although most sales teams have targets, setting different categories of goals could help to ensure teams stay motivated. Based on the SMART method, goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound, and they can be set monthly, weekly or even daily.
For example, daily targets may include moving three leads to the next stage in their pipeline, which should boost confidence, improve time management and quash procrastination.
Having more impetus to be proactive could be all salespeople need to get themselves out of a rut.
5. Reconsider compensation
Sales has classically been linked to bonus schemes and commission, but when performance starts to decline, it's worth asking if basic financial incentives are enough to motivate your team.
Instead, you could consider tailoring reward schemes to individual members of staff depending on how they work best and their achievements, and thinking outside the realms of traditional financial compensation to get them excited about work again.
For example, physical prizes, bonus days off, hotel stays, company movie lunches and even a shout-out on Teams could be enough to improve morale and make everyone feel more valued - and employees who feel valued tend to perform better.
6. Remember the value of teamwork
Sales can be competitive and this attitude has typically been encouraged over the years, but promoting cooperation rather than competition could actually improve productivity.
Whereas rivalry might create an 'us and them' atmosphere between teams, sitting reps together and allowing them to learn from each other can create more of a community, which in turn has the power to boost employee engagement.
7. Work on your products
Even the best salespeople will struggle to promote a product they know is below par or that they don't believe in. Selling something that has a host of poor reviews, for example, is not only difficult but unsustainable in the long term.
Furthermore, it can damage trust among clients once they find out. It's therefore vital to take a good look at your product and ensure it's the best it can be before you have your people push it to potential customers.
After all, research has found people are more persuasive when they believe in what they're selling, so make the most of this and create something irresistible.
Sales slumps can be tough, but employing simple solutions to get to the root of the problem could revitalize your team and get them back to delivering the results you want.