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Rise and Shine

Drifted into a sales slump? It's time to wake up and sell your way back to the top.

There isn't a salesperson alive who hasn't experienced a sales slump. It could be because of an economic downturn or because the competition has a new product. It could be due to personal challenges or lack of motivation. It can even happen when things are going well, and you feel you can "coast" for a while. The problem is, you can't coast uphill.

Barring catastrophic events, you don't dive into a slump. It creeps up on you until you start to realize that things haven't been going well. Don't wait to start your ascent; the longer you wait, the more difficult the climb will be.

Here are four steps to follow if you find yourself in a slump:

1. Call on your satisfied customers. These are the people you know best; presumably, they're the ones with whom you have the best personal relationships. Look for additional ways to satisfy their needs or new needs you can meet. Ask about their customers and potential customers, and find ways to help them reach their targets. Learn about their new problems and challenges, and come back to them with fresh solutions.

2. Concentrate on bread-and-butter accounts. Different accounts have different sales cycles. Some may take a week, a month or two years. Sometimes, you get so caught up with landing the big one that you forget about little accounts with shorter sales cycles that can bring in money now. There are times when you have to sacrifice immediate income for something that will pay off over time. In business, you have to look ahead and think long-term. But you also have to take care of day-to-day responsibilities. It's important to keep those factors balanced; don't get so focused on one that you lose sight of the other.

3. Stay on top of business and world news, and always keep in mind how events of the day might affect your customers. When was the last time you broadened your reading habits? Look for sources that will give you new ideas on how to fine-tune your activities and target your customers more efficiently. Read materials that will help you speak to your customers in their business language. Learn more about how other people grew their businesses. You never know what you might learn from their failures and successes.

4. Be selective about the company you keep. If everyone around you is in a slump as well, you'll drag each other down. Surround yourself with people who are excited about what they do. Ride on their momentum until you can build enough of your own.

Be selective about your customers. It may seem like you want to keep every customer when you're in a slump, but there are times when you get so desperate that you spend all your time trying to make a match where one doesn't exist. So if an opportunity doesn't meet your expectations, move on.

In the end, it's the movement that counts. The best way to get out of a slump is to keep moving forward. Remember: See the people, sell the people, serve the people. Make more calls, set up more meetings. Don't let a temporary slump turn into a slippery slope. If you keep your activity levels high, you'll be at the top of your game again before you know it.

QUICK PICK
Ramp up your sales with help from "Small Business Heroes Radio" (www.jamesmaduk.com/radio.htm), a how-to Internet radio program hosted by James Maduk, president of Full Contact Sales Systems in Ottawa and author of 52 Secrets My Mom Never Told Me About Internet Marketing.

Maduk has learned hands-on through trial and error, and now he's sharing his knowledge with you. His radio show's topics focus on how to effectively use marketing, management and technology to make the sale, increase your revenue and grow your business. The station broadcasts 10- to 20-minute self-contained looping sessions streamed over the Internet weekly free of charge, with one or two interviews each session. There's no obligation to register--just click and liste.

-Steve Cooper

Barry Farber is the author of 11 books on sales, management and peak performance. His latest release, "Diamond in the Rough" CD program, is based on his book, radio and television show. Visit him at www.BarryFarber.com, or email him at barry@barryfarber.com.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the January 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Rise and Shine.

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