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Don’t use the economy as an excuse


Jeffrey Gitomer

Jeffrey Gitomer

In case you hadn’t noticed, the economy is still hurting. And the universal cry of salespeople not making enough sales is, “IT’S THE ECONOMY!”

In a slump? Not making enough (or any) sales. Feel like you’re unable to get out of the rut? Is it the economy, or is it YOU?

Maybe you’re not in a big slump, but just can’t seem to hit the quota numbers. Let’s be kind and call it “sales under-achievement.”

Don’t panic.
Don’t press too hard.
Don’t get down on yourself.
Don’t get mad.
And above all – don’t quit.

OK, OK, there’s a slowdown (a recession), but don’t be too quick to blame your lack of performance on “it” before you take a hard look at “you.” And take a closer look at “slump” before you blame “economy.”

Here are the prime causes of sales slumps:

Poor belief system. I don’t believe that my company or product is the best. I don’t think that I’m the best.

Poor work habits. Getting to work late, or barely “on time.” Not spending your time with people who can say “yes.”

Misperceptions that lead to sour grapes. I think my prices are too high, or my territory is bad.

Outside pressure. Caused by money problems, family problems or personal problems.

Poor personal habits. Too much drink, too much food or too much after-hours play.

Boss giving crap instead of support. Someone who says, “You better do it,” instead of, “I know you can do it.”

Events that go against you. New salesperson passes you, someone else gets promoted and you knew it should have been you.

Customer cancels a big order. Weakening your personal belief or causing severe money problems – or both.

Competition cuts price and steals the order. This is the new reality of business.

Getting depressed. From any of the above.

When you’re in a slump, you begin to press for orders instead of working your best game plan (which is: “sell to help the other person,” and let your sincerity of purpose shine through). When you have the pressure to sell, the prospect senses it and backs off.

Then things get worse. You can’t seem to sell at all and begin to panic. Oh my gosh, I can’t sell a thing, I’ll get fired and miss my house payment. Aaaahhhhhh! False fear. Relax, you’re better than that.

What causes a slump? You do. Therefore, you are the best (only) person too fix it.

Here’s a prescription to help cure sick sales:

• Study fundamentals – Usually what’s wrong is not complicated. In fact, you probably know what’s wrong. Your problem is that you think it’s someone or something else’s fault. Wrong. List two or three areas that need immediate care. Have the guts to take action.

• Revisit your (or make a new) plan for success. Today.

• List five things you could be doing to work smarter AND harder. Make a plan to work as smart as you think (or say) you are. Hard work can change your luck.

• Change your presentation. Try a different approach. Take the customer’s perspective.

• Talk to your five best customers. Ask them to evaluate your situation.

• Get someone you respect to evaluate you presentation. Take them with you on sales calls. Get a coach.

• Visit your mentor. And have a new plan to discuss when you get there.

• Get to work an hour before everyone. Put in more productive time.

• Stay away from pity parties. Don’t make a slump worse by whining or hanging around a bunch of “negits” and underachievers.

• Hang around positive, successful people. The best way to get to success.

• Have some fun. Go to a comedy club. Do a little extra of what you like to do best (unless too much fun is the cause of your slump).

• Spend 30 minutes a day (in the morning is best) reading about your positive attitude. Then listen to attitude CDs and sales CDs in the car ALL DAY.

• Listen to your favorite song just before a presentation. Go in to your next call singing.

• Take a day off. Chill out, take stock, make a plan, re-group, re-energize, and return with renewed determination and better energy.

• Rearrange your office. Shake things up a little, make it look new.

• Record your presentations live. Then listen in the car immediately afterwards. Take notes. Act to correct.

• Videotape your presentation. Watch it with others who can give you constructive feedback.

• Take the best salesperson you know out on calls with you for a day. Get a written evaluation after each call.

• Take your boss with you on calls for a week. You’ll get more feedback than you can handle, but it will help.

• Avoid negative talk and negative people like the plague. Find people who will encourage you, not puke on you.

• Become more valuable to your customers. Send a weekly value message by e-mail to everyone (it can be the same message to all). Tweet a value message or inspirational message daily.

The best way to get out of the rut is keep the slump in perspective. Once you accept the fact that you can change it, you can begin to recover. Be cool – you’re the greatest, if you think you are. Believe in the most important person in the world. You!

THINK ABOUT THIS: When a baseball player is in a batting slump, he’ll do anything to “change his luck.” Things from superstition (rabbit’s foot, not shaving, wearing the same underwear) to changing batting stance, to video watching, to extra coaching. But the one thing that usually breaks the slump is extra batting practice – to regain the groove.

Fundamentals, baby.

They, like you, have the professional ability but temporarily lost it. They, like you, need to revisit the raw fundamentals to regain lost talent.

If you want to learn my secret for long-term name recognition and loyal customers, go to www.gitomer.com and enter the word NAME in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer; he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.

About Jeffrey Gitomer

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