In NASCAR, the command, “Drivers, start your engines!” elicits excitement for the fans and produces an adrenaline rush for the drivers. It conveys the thought that it's time to aggressively begin the task at hand.
What motivates you to start producing? Whatever that motivation is, is it ongoing and consistent? Even the most successful producers, every now and then, whether caused by external or internal reasons, obvious or hidden, don't feel like starting their engines or don't have the ambition to take the sales mark.
Continued inability to sell could lead to a decrease in production performance occurring over time, aka a “sales slump.” One bad result turns into two and three. Soon, depression occurs and doubt of one’s sales ability takes over. Negativity fuels all of those emotions to the point that it consumes the producer’s every thought. Successes of the past are long forgotten.
One bad result turns into two and three. Soon, depression occurs and doubt of one's sales ability takes over. Negativity fuels all of those emotions to the point that it consumes the producer's every thought. Successes of the past are long forgotten.
Sales slumps don't discriminate. Even the most successful, seasoned producer could face one. A diligent producer who is doing exceptionally well may find prospects taking the summer months off from making insurance buying decisions. Sales during that time become harder to close. Frustrations could develop, causing the beginning of a sales slump. One truth with sales slumps is that they are self-perpetuating. The lack of success often erodes confidence and the expectation of positive results, making it more difficult to sell.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you eliminate a sales slump:
If you continue to work diligently, recognize that sales slumps will end. Be confident, and stay focused on the sales duties at hand, not letting the slump distract you. Use the power of positive thought as your foundation of confidence. Don't panic.
Joe DiMaggio said that to get out of a slump, you need to keep swinging. Insurance-wise, that means to continue getting in front of potential customers. Keep calling, prospecting, soliciting, presenting and proposing. Often during a slump, energy decreases and activity diminishes, which only prolongs the possibility of no success. Just continue your excellent practices of the past and success will return.
Work smarter and harder
There is no better way to improve your results than to put in more effort. If you’re calling 10 businesses per week, increase that to 15. Identify one or two things that you feel you can do more efficiently in your sales process. For the perfect sales year, you need impeccable sales components that you market flawlessly.
Know when to move on
We all seek out relationships with prospects who, for multiple reasons, will never buy from us. That's not working smart. These accounts take up too much of your time and contaminate your ability to service your better accounts. If you are satisfied that you’ve given all you can to close the deal and nothing is happening, move on. Choosing to work with nonbuying prospects will give length to your sales slump. Find prospects that are truly interested in what you can do for them.
Reorganize and reenergize
Step back and look at what you do. Without recognizing it, your work environment might have changed or become chaotic. Possibly your work routine is not what it once was. Do you put in the same hours, but find yourself doing more maintenance instead of sales activity? Perhaps your sales pace has slowed. Take the time to evaluate. Is there a better way to operate? Look to whom and how you are prospecting. How have you been successful in reaching new prospects? Is there a better way? Reenergize your sales opportunities by filling your pipeline with quality prospects.
Keep prospecting to add to your future bank
Your sales engine needs oil, and the best way to do that is to prospect. Avoid focusing on current customers and instead prospect, which few sales professionals like to do. Liking it and doing it are two different things. The more successful producers see the need to prospect and simply do it. Don't neglect your existing customers. Service to them is a key retention component. You can avoid the peaks and valleys caused by mini-slumps if you’re on the constant prowl for prospects and opportunities.
Enhance your memory
If you’ve been successful in the insurance business, don't forget what made you so. Repeat those actions, such as offering better coverage, better pricing, and, most importantly, better service. Remember why clients liked you and reapply those qualities.
Don't push too hard
When you push your body too hard, you can strain yourself. The same is true with selling too intensely as that approach will put strain on the buying process. An aggressive, anxious approach will become obvious to the buyer, turning even the best proposal negative. Don't oversell out of the need for slump termination. Sell out of expertise, knowledge and confidence, rather than out of desperation.
Eliminate or reduce the pressure gauge
One constant that accompanies a sales slump is the pressure to perform, which dramatically increases. One way to mitigate the pressure of your sales goals and objectives is to reset them, temporarily. Meet with those supervising you, but more importantly, meet with yourself to recalculate short-term goals and targets. Goals to modify are the number of calls needed to get an appointment, the number of appointments to be able to quote, and the number of proposals needed to obtain a sale. When success returns, readjust your goals upward to be more aggressive. All you have done with this exercise is turn down the heat on your pressure cooker, until you’re once again producing as you know you can.
We all go through sales slumps, some deeper than others, but they exist for us all. Repeat the command, “Producer, Start Your Engine,” and enjoy the victories of your sales checkered flag.
James Dougherty, CIC, works at the Allwood Forlenza Agency in Clifton, N.J. For sales training and education through the Dynamics of Selling program, go to: www.thenationalalliance.com.