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How to get out of a sales performance slump

Everyone has ups and downs, it is an inevitable part of life and the human condition.

When I started to work as a sales manager, it quickly became obvious that the members of my sales team varied enormously in how often they had these ups and downs as well as how much they went up and down.

The more experienced and more successful team members tended to be more constant in their emotional state. John was one of these, nothing much seemed to fluster him too much and if he hit a set-back he would generally learn from it, reflect, collect his thoughts and move on quite quickly. He almost always hit target too.

But Roger dealt with set-backs in a different way. He would take them personally, get upset or angry, become despondent and take some time to get back to feeling Ok again. He was less experienced in sales and his performance was much less consistent.

In both cases, the ‘downs’ typically resulted from dealing with the drip-feed of continued rejection, set-backs in a sales campaign or sometimes something happening in their personal lives. The ‘ups’ typically followed on from successes, both big and small.

The ‘downs’ always resulted in measurable performance slumps to some degree, but the frequency and the depth of the performance slumps were quite different between John and Roger.

John and Roger were doing basically the same role and faced the same obstacles. John was quite resilient in how he dealt with set-backs, he didn’t dip very often and when he did, it wasn’t by very much. Roger’s dips were much more frequent, longer lasting and tended to be deeper too.

You may well be thinking that John and Roger just had different personalities and that things would always be like that for them.

However, it has now been discovered that how our brains operate is not fixed by the time we become an adult, as used to be thought, but that they remain ‘plastic’ throughout our lifetimes. Using brain scans we can see new connections being made and even new cells growing when we establish new habits and new ways of thinking.

These dips in performance are caused by John and Rogers emotional reactions to the set-backs, rather than the set-backs themselves.

Psychologists have developed tools and techniques that enable us to actively manage our emotions when we face set-backs, which help us to develop a more resilient mind-set and enable us to perform at our best. These techniques have been used to great effect in sports for several years and many of the most successful sports teams now have a sports psychologist on board to help with this.

The very same tools and techniques have been developed and proven to work in sales too, which perhaps isn’t too surprising given the similar psychological challenges of sales and competitive sports. Sales people like Roger can learn these tools and techniques, to grow resilience and make these performance slumps less frequent, shallower and faster to recover from.

By using these tools and techniques, users have reported that sales activity rates have been boosted by 30%, sales results by 20% as well as staff turnover reduced by 66%.

If you are interested in exploring how you could reduce or eliminate performance slumps in your sales team, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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