Supporting struggling salespeople through a dry patch

Most salespeople will go through a dry patch at some point in their career. Often this is only temporary, caused by focusing on the wrong things the previous month. But sometimes, these dry patch can cause confidence to drop, which then leads to a longer period of poor results.

This lack of confidence encourages people to work contrary to best practice…

How to be a great salespersonWhat strugglers do
Make enough callsMore emails, fewer calls
Open calls with impactTentative openings
Be assertive in meetingsBe led by the prospect
Actively look for objectionsAvoid objections
Overcome objections confidentlyGet defensive
Close the dealWait for the prospect to close

So you see, a dry patch can quickly become a longer-term drop in performance if the salesperson isn’t adequately supported.

As a sales manager, there are a number of techniques at your disposal to help the salesperson to recover their form.

Sales micro-planning

Note this is micro-planning, not micro-managing! It’s about coaching salespeople at a granular level of detail, to help them improve their skills. You shouldn’t need to tell the salesperson what to do – they have this knowledge inside them somewhere – it’s about questioning them in very small steps to help them come up with the actions they need to take in order to lead the sale to a positive conclusion.

Using targeted feedback

Feedback is about sharing your perspective on the salesperson’s actions, and the impact those actions have on the progress of the sale. It may be followed by suggested actions, or you might just “shine the light” on what the salesperson is currently doing, then let them come up with their own solutions.

Removing excuses

Salespeople often have excuses for why they’re struggling. The problem with excuses is that they disempower the salesperson from doing anything to improve. As long as there’s something external to blame, they’ll just keep working in the same way until things change – which they often won’t!

A typical excuse could be “I don’t have enough leads”. You know, as their manager, that regardless of the number of leads the salesperson is getting, there are things they could be doing to increase their sales. These are things like:

  • Plugging some holes in their pipelines
  • Finding their own leads
  • Asking for referrals from existing clients

Your goal is to get them to realise this. If they fail to realise that they have things in their power to do, then you might need to tell them.

You can ask questions to encourage action. For example:

  • “What would you do if you had zero leads?”

The salesperson will probably then come up with some actions they could take, such as cold calling. Follow up with:

  • “Well you don’t have zero leads, but could you take these actions anyway to improve your sales?”

Once you’ve removed the excuses, what’s left is actions which can be taken. This empowers the salesperson to make changes to the way they work and brings them out of their dry patch.

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