All sales reps go through slumps. The sign of a great sales rep is their ability to self-evaluate and self-correct. This is the same for sales team performance as a whole. Many of these slumps are caused by factors outside a team’s or a company’s control, like COVID-19 and the economic downturn of last year. Even population shifts can have an impact on sales. As Kenneth Gronbach writes in The Age Curve, the 11 percent drop in population with Generation X had a devastating effect on the economy and on sales.
Even when external factors are partially at play, it is possible to improve sales slumps from the inside. Here are four tips to improve your sales team’s performance:
1. Sales Training
It’s always a good idea to focus or refocus on training. Reps can sometimes forget about the fundamentals that made them successful. In training, focus first on the basics:
- Value proposition: A statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. This helps reps learn to understand a customer’s main problem and specifically address this in their pitch.
- Competitive differentiation: How a company’s product or service is different from and better than what competitors offer. It’s important for reps to understand what else is on the market, and what other calls prospects might be getting.
- Email templates and cold call scripts: It’s possible the problem lies in what a rep is writing or saying to a prospect. Make sure all reps are working from the right scripts. Team performance is heavily tied to each rep’s ability to pitch effectively through these media.
- Structuring the day: Emphasize the importance of establishing prospecting call blocks. Coming up with the proper structure of a day has a direct impact on success.
After the basics, focus on product training. Be sure the team is up to date on the latest product releases. Have reps demo their product value-add to each other and to the sales manager. Don’t forget about the core use-case of the product. Too many bells and whistles can have a negative impact on a sale.
It’s a great thing that most sales reps are naturally competitive (it’s what drew them to the career in the first place). Fueling that competitiveness can help motivate reps to go the extra mile. Effort is often the key to breaking a sales slump.
Gamify your sales process by making it fun. Report on the team’s numbers consistently and transparently (open communication is the key to gamification). Come up with new or better SPIFs that will act as an incentive to drive sales. This can be financial compensation, like bonuses, but it can also be other rewards, like time off, memberships, gift cards, or travel vouchers. Well-implemented SPIF programs can increase sales by as much as 27% and boost overall team performance.
3. Hired guns
Sometimes sales teams need a little outside motivation in the form of a new rockstar rep on the team. It’s always a good idea to recruit ‘A’ players, but especially in a sales slump. This may seem counterintuitive, but investing in a top player when sales are down can get the team out of a slump by motivating all the reps on the team to up their game. This can also bring in a much-needed outside perspective on the sales process and encourage reps to try new strategies.
4. Change it up
Sales can, at times, become monotonous. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Try a different sales spin or competitive differentiation. Change up the cold call script. Add a new step to the sales process to see if it works. Have reps brainstorm with each other. This can also be gamified to encourage rep participation and boost team performance.
Companies can prepare for sales slumps by understanding these strategies ahead of time. Slumps are typically a matter of when, not if, and if you have strategies for breaking the slump, they’ll only be a short-term issue.
For more strategies to improve team performance, check out SaaS Companies: Track These 7 Metrics for Better Renewal Rates