If you’ve been a sales manager for a while, it's inevitable that one or more people – or even your entire sales team – will get into a prospecting or selling slump. For me personally, the period after the holidays or a vacation is usually the most common time for the “slump effect.”
First, let me give you Dictionary.com’s definition of a slump:
“a period during which a person performs slowly, inefficiently, or ineffectively, especially a period during which an athlete or team fails to play or score as well as usual.”
So here’s what I do to keep my sellers on track, in the game, and away from “slumping:”
1. Have everyone set an individual weekly goal for how many prospecting activities they will perform.
These include phone calls, emails, in-person meetings, and networking events. For example, someone declared a goal of twenty activities for this week. I make sure this activity is tracked in our CRM system (salesforce.com) so they appear on a report that I can run weekly to see how many prospecting activities were performed individually, as well as for the entire sales team.
2. Suggest they set aside specific time in their calendar to prospect.
We use Outlook, and prospecting events are color coded as green so that I can quickly identify on anyone’s calendar if there is enough time allocated during the week for prospecting activity. We refer to this as “green time,” and I like to see at least 20% of someone’s work week allocated to green time.
3. Build lists.
Using the CRM system, creating a report of people that each salesperson should talk to is easy, and they can do it themselves. These can be various types of reports, including people that are currently on their radar to call from the last time they were prospecting, people that they met at events, or people that they tagged in the system for frequent calls. Some other good reports are past clients to reconnect with, as well as past prospects connected to lost opportunities.
4. Help them determine their purpose.
Before speaking with anyone, it’s good to determine why you are calling them and what the desired outcome is. It’s not always about looking to close an opportunity, but catching up, during which time it may be easy to ask for a referral, or asking someone to put in a call to nudge a prospect to return a phone call, or simply calling to stay in touch and to discuss ideas for generating new business.
5. Use LinkedIn.
Help salespeople create a target list of companies they want to do business with. Set the criteria such as company size, industry, location, etc. Generate a list of contacts in these companies and find out whom the salespeople have common connections with. If you have a Sales PlayBook, create a section for email or phone scripts that salespeople can use when requesting an introduction. Again, track this information in the CRM, so the salespeople can nudge once or twice to remind someone to make the connection before moving on.
6. Go through old emails.
Encourage your team to reconnect with their networks. They can easily sort their inbox by sender so the same people are grouped and simply scroll down the list of emails. I’m betting that many salespeople got busy and let correspondence with prospects and/or referral sources fall through the cracks. Simply reviewing past emails for the last month or two can yield fruitful opportunities to reconnect with someone who might be ready to do business with your sellers.
7. Give to get.
Encourage salespeople to provide something of value when they interact with prospects and clients. Things like industry reports, service benchmark reports, ebooks, webinars, invitations to speaking events, discounted services or products, all help to give incentives for people to meet with your salespeople.
I hope these tips help you to keep your sales team in motion, which is one of my first rules to busting a sales slump and filling up a sales pipeline. As an old trainer friend of mine used to say to me, “You can only fail at prospecting if you fail to prospect!”