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Sales slumps occur for many reasons

August 16, 2007

On the train coming back from New York City one day a few months back I ran into a guy I worked with 20 years ago and had seen two years earlier. He told me he had changed jobs in the past year and that he was now an individual contributor selling enterprise security software for a major vendor. When I asked how he was doing, he said “great”. I noticed that he was not as exuberant as one would expect when someone says “great”- so I drilled down a little over the course of our train trip and found that he felt that he might not make quota for the first time in a long time.  He had always been a super star and made a great deal of money, but was unable to bring in any significant business for his current employer. I proceeded to ask him many questions to find out what might be affecting his performance. I asked about his territory – he thought it was fine, his quota was fine, he was making the right calls, had the right number of meetings, but his performance against other sales professionals was terrible and he lost a few deals. We talked over the course of the next few days and we mutually came to the conclusion that he had a territory problem. The problem was a serious one: product-over saturation. The saturation included his companies products as well as the competitions. He could not see the problem nor could his boss. To make matters worse, this problem had a negative impact on his ability to overcome the competitions sales strategy. The past 8 months of selling had turned into a metal road-block for him. He needed a territory re-alignment and some training on how to compete more effectively.

We all can and will hit sales slumps in our careers but if you keep on top of the learning curve you should be able to see the forest for the trees. As a sales professional you should be continually learning about your profession throughout your career. You can’t always depend on your sales manager as the one who will see a particular problem and help to guide you in the right direction. When you encounter a problem, take charge and find someone who can help. Get in the habit of continually looking to improve your skills.  Do what sports figures, doctor, educator do – in order to keep on top of their game, they  continually train. Find a sales trainer, professional sales coach or attend seminars or workshops. Learn about different sales methodologies and select the one that makes the most sense to you and mix and match until your comfortable with it. Make sure it fits your style of communicating. Whatever training is offered, take it with gusto. Don’t sit there and think you know it all. Remember training keeps you sharp and successful.

By the way, as of this week, my friend is back on track and will make quota for the quarter. He’s talking about a very promising pipeline and as I know him – it’s accurate.

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