12 Steps for Avoiding a Sales Rut: Getting Back on Top

April 23, 2014

by: Mark Basla

It’s a well-known fact that every peak is followed by a valley.  And for those who make their careers in sales, these highs and lows can be extreme.

Sure, rejection goes with the territory when it comes to selling, but there are few among us who ever really develop an immunity to the disappointment of losing a deal that we know made sense for the prospect. During these dips, having a good process for developing leads and regaining our professional A-game is essential.

A 12-step guide to beat the sales blues

Build—and stick to—this routine of activities and behaviors, and you will offset the all-too-easy practice of self-doubt when it feels like we’re slipping into a rut.

As you read, remember the secret to unlocking the full potential of each step comes from setting your own individual performance goals and making sure they make you feel slightly uncomfortable; after all, any deal worth getting is a deal worth fighting for!

1.   Don’t panic, get organized – Set Goals

Rather than worry endlessly about being in a rut, put your energy to work.  Begin building a simple daily, monthly and annual plan that will help you turn the tide on your current situation. As you do, remember that goals are essential mile markers on your journey.

2.   Free your mind

Take a step back from the issues that are weighing most heavily on you. Find the proper amount of “you time” required to help you reboot.  Get out for a run, go for a long hike, plant a tree, read a book…do whatever you can to stimulate your creative side.

3.   Explore the “5 Whys”

Invented by Toyota Founder Kiichiro Toyoda’s father Sakichi, the “5 Whys” strategy involves looking at any problem and asking: “Why?” and “What caused this problem?” This process is an important part of getting to the root cause of any problem, and it can help you begin mapping a way out of your current situation.

4.   Seek inspiration

It has been said that there are no new problems. Even if this statement is only partially true, odds are that someone somewhere faced similar adversity and rose to the challenge in epic fashion. Use Google to find out who they are and learn from their success. Consider being a guest, or joining DVIRC’s Sales and Marketing Group where you can meet with and learn from and share sales successes and opportunities for improvements with your peers.

5.   Set a timeline for attaining your goals

Give yourself a limited runway for creating the changes you seek. Don’t let open-ended goals mess up your progress. Plan-Do-Check-Act thinking fits nicely into weekly performance tracking on your journey to success.

6.   Put your goals in writing and sign your name to them

Why not write a contract with yourself? This simple exercise is a great tool to help you get and stay motivated.

7.   Make yourself a little uncomfortable

What better way to get out of a stale situation than trying something totally new? Exposing yourself to new sources of stimulus might be just what you need to break free from what’s holding you back. Consider attending an event you would not normally consider to broaden and expand your network – keep a “pay it forward” attitude – more opportunities should present themselves!

8.   Try living healthily

A healthy lifestyle builds self-confidence; self-confidence enables us to pursue and attain our goals. Make a slow but steady shift toward exercising more, eating better, and treating yourself right—you won’t believe the difference in how you feel.

9.   Make time for people who believe in you

As our lives get complicated, we tend to become absorbed in our problems. Rather than focusing on the things that keep us up at night, try an evening out with friends or family.  The people who believe in you most are the ones you should turn to first when you seek the voice of reason.

10. Remember – some days will be better than others

Odd though it might sound, peaks and valleys will occur even in the midst of peaks and valleys!  Good bad or otherwise, a day is only 24 hours long, and no two will ever be the same.  Make the most of whatever they put in front of you! And re-read step 12 over and over again! Consider professional baseball players – the few that are hugely successful with a .300 batting average actually means they don’t get on base 7 out of 10 times at bat.

11. Celebrate incremental victories

Sometimes we all need to take a step back and celebrate the little victories. It’s a great way to stay positive and strong.   When you are in a sales rut, a good lead or positive conversation can be all you need to celebrate a change in the tide.

12. Believe in yourself

If you don’t, why would anyone else?  Self-confidence is the most effective tool for overcoming the fear of rejection. Once they’ve taken that first step, a motivated salesperson is truly a force to be reckoned with.

The passion and determination to keep on even when the journey gets rough will help you build a successful career in sales. If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about sales and marketing, root cause and “5 whys”, networking event opportunities, or anything else covered here, please let us know.

DVIRC’s marketing experts can help you climb out of even the most challenging sales growth valleys.  For more information or to learn more about our full range of lead generation, market research, marketing plans and other business growth services contact Mark Basla, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development at mbasla@dvirc.org, or call 215-464-8550 ext. 240.