James called me in a last-ditch effort to save his sales job. He had never made his sales goal over a 3 year period and now his boss had him on a 90-day development plan. If he didn’t make all the goals outlined, he faced termination. James called me at the 60-day mark in his development plan. He admitted being in a sales rut..stuck..with no way out. The question he posed to me was one dripping in defeat.
“should I find another job?”
I answered back with a question…”Is that the right question you should be asking yourself?”
As I explained to James, the easy path is to find another job and take his sales problem with him which he will probably repeat with a new employer.
He could take the hard path and do the work necessary to uncover how he got into the sales rut, why his sales were inadequate and fix the problems..permanently.
James chose to tough it out and fix the problems.
How to move out of a sales rut and start selling again
The first step is usually the hardest step because it exposes the stories you tell yourself.
Step #1 Tell yourself the truth
James began sharing with me in our first coaching session all the “stories” of why he was failing. Perhaps you’ve told yourself similar stories…your leads are lousy, the price of your product isn’t competitive, your boss is checked out and doesn’t care.
Those are excuses..nothing more.
Instead..step into a leadership role and start being honest with yourself. Recognize that these stories you tell yourself are not the truth for why you are failing. There are only a few reasons why people fail in sales
- lack of training
- lack of discipline
All can be fixed.
In my practice, I’ve heard about every excuse possible with the exception of one. I’ve never heard …”the dog ate my leads.” I’ll probably hear that one tomorrow!
When confronting honesty with your “self” there’s nowhere to hide. Yet it’s a freeing exercise once you move the ego aside and humble yourself to learn the real truth about you.
And it’s something I recommend at the end of each day by setting aside a few minutes to think and review your day in silence. No TV. No podcast. No phone notifications to pull your attention to look. Just you and your thoughts in a review of the day.
It’s an exercise to review in your mind, how your day unfolded; the successes, the things you could do better, the things you completely messed up.
Here’s why this is important.
If you can’t admit there’s a problem, there’s no way you can fix it. So you stay stuck. Just like AA, the first step is admitting you have a drinking problem. This AA mind shift works in all areas of your life as well…admit you have a problem. Tell yourself the truth. Name the problems so you can start working on solutions.
If your leads are lousy…that’s a problem. Find a solution. If they’re lousy for you, chances are they’re lousy for the rest of the team members. Collaborate with your fellow team members on how to fix the problem. If you’ve brought it to your boss’s attention and nothing changed..then remember this…always present a problem with a solution. A solution you’re willing to lead and fix. Just don’t dump it on your boss’s desk.
Tell yourself the truth.
Step #2 Take Responsibility for EVERYTHING
- It’s not my job
- We’ve always done it this way
- I don’t have the authority to approve this
- I have to wait for XYZ department
Sound familiar? Did you hear these excuses or voice these excuses? Maybe both?
This is how a bottleneck occurs in a company.
Start cooperating within the different departments that control your sales success. That’s one way to take responsibility. Get to know the key people that help make your day easier and more successful. In turn, you’ll make their day easier and more successful by helping them.
Look at your list of problems that need solving from Step #1. How can the problems be solved when other departments are involved? How well do you know the departmental managers? Who are the key people on the team that can coach and collaborate with you? How many departments will be involved to solve the problems?
Don’t just shrug this off and say..wow this is a lot of work! If you haven’t done this work already it will be a lot in the beginning, but over the next 6 months to a year, you’ll form internal relationships that could prove invaluable to your success.
I’ve seen throughout my career in selling the isolation many sales reps create. Working alone, day after day could feel like you against the corporate machine. That mindset will lead to a sales rut.
Once or twice a week invite a department manager or team member that’s vital to your sales success for lunch or for coffee. If you work remote, set up a luncheon call or a coffee call. Send a Starbucks $5.00 gift card to the person you want to collaborate with over a virtual lunch or coffee call. Begin to connect with important internal teams. They are your clients too.
Take responsibility for everything.
Step #3 Be Disciplined
This is by far the hardest step for most, especially if you’ve lived your life unrestraint, impulsive, and blowing with the wind.
And in my opinion, this is the most vital step for sales success.
YOU. MUST. BE. DISCIPLINED.
If this is a problem for you, I’d like to recommend a book that WILL help. It’s Jocko Willink Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual.
As I said in last week’s article How to Crush Sales without Relying on Motivation,
Motivation will not get you through but discipline will.
When people are stuck in a sales rut, they start looking outside of themselves for answers, for motivation, for inspiration instead of looking inside themselves and asking the hard questions to confront the truth.
When it’s 5:00 pm and you’re day has been unsuccessful, it’s “discipline” that drives you to make one more call.
It’s “discipline” that stops you from cutting corners during the sales process.
It’s “discipline” that reminds you to do your follow-up work even though it’s the end of the year and it doesn’t matter to your goals.
It’s “discipline” that drives you to….
Tell yourself the truth.
Take responsibility for everything.
James had a very undisciplined sales day. Once he began to implement a plan of self-discipline, his world began to change.
Discipline gives you a feeling of control over how your day unfolds because you’re taking responsibility for every minute of your workday. There is freedom when you control the 24 hours you get every day of your life. Will you have days when the unexpected happens? Absolutely..you prepare for the unexpected to the best of your ability.
James made it through his 90-day performance development plan. He worked hard and learned so much about himself. He’s still working out a few kinks..but his progress didn’t surprise me because he created a plan, kept telling himself the uncomfortable truth, formed collaborations with people to help solve problems, began taking responsibility for everything and framed it all around self-discipline.
You can do the same.
If you’re stuck in a rut….seek help. Seek someone you can learn from. Go where you can learn. Don’t try to fix it on your own. If you could…you would have moved forward by now.
If you need help like James, just simply schedule a 30-minute complimentary call. Discover how we can work together to help solve your problems. Simply complete the form below and in the message area, tell me what you’re struggling with and ask to schedule a complimentary call. Why not do it now.