When do you think about momentum? I’d guess most people don’t think about momentum until they’re feeling stuck.
Momentum is movement; mass and force propelling an object forward. In sales, it’s more than simply closing a bunch of deals. If your sales team is not constantly improving, it's standing still.
There needs to be advancement, like consistently increasing the average contract value while keeping sales cycles as concise as possible. Your sales reps need to be making the adjustments that keep that upward motion going.
When everything’s working, the world’s your oyster. Things just flow. As soon as that forward motion grinds to a halt, though, you’re painfully aware of momentum—and your team’s lack thereof.
Sales reps or exercise reps?
When your reps are looking to get their momentum flowing again, they’ll need a plan of attack. Try thinking about it like a workout plan.
Once you make the decision to start improving your fitness, you set lofty goals. You’re motivated. After some hard work, you started hitting your targets. Hooray! Celebration time!
Now what? It’s not like there’s a big issue here. You hit some goals. You improved your fitness. It would be easy to rest on your laurels, and maintain your accomplishments at that level. The challenge is to keep improving by rebuilding the momentum that propelled you to where you are now.
Sales is the same. When your team is consistently hitting their goals (woo-hoo!), there can be an impulse to coast happily along in that sales plateau. In business, though, growth is the name of the game.
Staying in a plateau too long can cost your team more than just lost sales. You risk your salespeople losing focus and confidence and turning to shortcuts or short-term gains, instead of making plans for long-term growth.
You need to recognize that what got you and your team to this point might not be enough to take you to the next level, at least not without some tweaking or getting back to basics. Here’s how to make the shifts that will create and maintain upward sales motion.
10 dos and don’ts for reviving and sustaining your team’s sales momentum
1. Do get sales reps to work on weaknesses
In most fitness journeys, doing workouts that only exercise parts of the body that are already strong is redundant. By avoiding workouts that address weaknesses or imbalances—like bodybuilders who skip ‘leg day’ in favour of yet more bicep curls—you’ll likely never hit your overall fitness goals.
For sales reps who have worked hard and achieved a level of success, there are probably places in their processes where they are very strong. These are the skills that have gotten them to the point where they hit a plateau.
When you work with them to identify and make a plan to improve any weaker spots, it could be the extra push to move past the plateau and take their sales to the next level.
Aside from the team and individual sales quotas, have your salespeople set some self-improvement goals to shore up those areas of weakness. The goals don’t have to be wild and crazy.
If improving their demo or presentation skills is the target, the goal could be something as simple as doing 20% more demos this month than last to get some practice in. The main thing is to get refocused on an achievable target that addresses a weak spot that’s within the rep’s control to hit.
2. Don’t let your reps get away with ‘good enough’
As a sales manager, you’re on top of your team’s metrics. You should be able to recognize fairly quickly when a salesperson’s numbers stop growing and start plateauing. Don’t let plateaus become the status quo.
Make plans to revive that lost momentum quickly. The longer anyone stays in a plateau, the harder it is to get moving and growing again. It’s like when you take too much time off your workout schedule. You have to work harder just to get back to where you were before, let alone push yourself even further.
Your plateauing sales reps might need that extra push from you to get their sales numbers climbing again. Help them stay disciplined about evolving their skills, improving their results, and not getting complacent.
Talk to them about challenges they see with your customer base and the general marketplace. Shadow them on some calls or demos to provide them with actionable feedback.
You’re likely already doing this kind of thing with all of your sales reps, but the key here is not to target underperforming reps. Instead, focus on your reps who are doing well to help them recalibrate their sales techniques so they can make the leap from good to great.
3. Do make sure they’re sticking to the plan
Once they have the goals set, they need to plan for how they will get there.
If your fitness goal is to improve your endurance, you’d set up a plan to run a bit further each time you train. You wouldn’t stop at the first distance or try to run a whole marathon the first time out, right? You’d set a plan and track your progress, so you can make adjustments as you go.
Do you have a sales process and playbook? Are your reps following it? Having goals is great, but there is an all-too-true saying: if you fail to plan, plan to fail. Watch for any areas where your reps are deviating from the sales plan. A slight recalculation to get back on track could mean the difference between an average sales period and an amazing one.
Are your buyer personas accurate and up-to-date? Revisit them to see if there are any that need to be retired, updated, or added. Sales reps need to know exactly who they’re targeting to work out their positioning and the techniques and strategies they’ll use to close the deal.
Reps will also need to know how they will track and measure how well the plan is working. Set the key metrics to benchmark and then watch for changes. For example, if you’ve added a new targeted buyer persona, stay on top of the sales metrics for that particular persona.
4. Don’t have them go it alone
In fitness, there are usually coaches, trainers, and other athletes around to offer advice, expertise, or just a “Keep going!”
Encourage sales reps to reach out to their teammates and to you when they’re trying to grow their sales. Mentorship, coaching, or other training can go a long way to finding a sales groove again.
Since competition can be natural in a sales department, there might be some reluctance to collaborate on solutions to improve. Instill a culture of teamwork and cooperation to help break down some of these walls. Make sure there are channels for open communication between you and your reps and among your team members. Foster a sense of camaraderie with team building and goals.
Even finding a sales role model to emulate can provide a boost. Many aspiring athletes have sportspeople they look up to; why not in sales? There are lots of sales gurus out there to follow and learn from, like Jill Konrath, Grant Cardone, Mark Hunter, and more.
5. Do get your sales reps to change it up a bit
Many people plateau in their fitness routines. Your body gets used to doing the movements or workouts, and progress seems to slow.
Trainers usually recommend changing up your routine to keep your body guessing, like trying new equipment or checking out a different fitness class. The point is to not let your mind or body become complacent.
Sales reps can switch up their thinking, too. Have them look at your product/service and your customers from a different perspective:
Is anything missing that could help locate new customers or close more deals?
What new opportunities are available with a small change to your process or technique?
Is there a different or emerging industry your team could tap into?
How is your team feeling? If they’re bored or complacent, adding or increasing sales training can give them a fresh outlook on their sales approach and new tactics to try.
It may have taken the sales rep a lot of time and energy to get to where they are now, so they could be feeling burnt out. Encourage them to take a little breather and recognize how much they’ve accomplished. This will help them get back into a positive, forward-looking mindset, ready to tackle the next goal.
6. Don’t go after low-hanging fruit
Don’t let your reps be tempted to short-change your lead qualification process. Going for short-term gains, just to make some quick sales, is not likely to spark much long-term momentum.
To go back to the fitness analogy, these short-sighted “wins” are akin to losing water weight. It seems like there’s forward motion, when really it’s just a temporary placebo effect. In order to make true gains, sales reps will need to do things right.
Your best bet? Make sure everyone continues to properly qualify leads. Only move quality leads down your sales funnel and save your team the time and frustration of poorly-fitting clients. Identify dead-end leads so your team doesn’t waste time chasing prospects who will never convert.
7. Do get everyone organized and prepared for more success
Many gym rats set aside specific times each week for working out. Some keep a gym bag packed and at the ready, so there’s no scramble to find clean socks or a water bottle. This type of efficiency and organization helps them stay disciplined.
In a similar way, a plateau can be a great opportunity for salespeople to set themselves up for future success. This could involve updating or going deeper into the digital tools your team uses, setting up a daily or weekly schedule that aligns with their strategy, plan, and goals, or simply putting their workspaces, physical and virtual, in order.
A clean, organized CRM is a happy CRM. Get reps to give your sales management databases a deep clean. Update contact details, delete or archive old information, and make sure data is tagged and labeled properly for easy searching. Research and add any missing information.
8. Don’t let distractions slow them down
Tidying and organizing are great, but make sure that kind of task isn’t turning into a form of procrastination. Help your sales reps avoid traps and distractions, even ones that seem productive on the surface. These will only further slow any return to momentum.
We’ve probably all seen the person at the gym who spends 90 percent of their time “warming up.” Prep work is great and all, but the most important part is doing the darn thing.
There’s also the person who only does a couple reps and then wanders off to do something else. Watch out for time management bad habits that might be limiting your team’s sales potential.
For example, multitasking or switching tasks constantly can be a time suck. Different tasks require different skills and mindsets, so doing more than one thing at a time wastes effort. It’s much more efficient to batch similar tasks together.
9. Do encourage breaks
Now, time management doesn’t mean sales rep can’t take a breather. You want them to be productive and building momentum, but not to the point of burnout.
During a workout, trainers would recommend active rest, like stretching or hydrating. For office situations, I’ve talked about the Pomodoro Method before, which builds rest into the strategy. It involves getting work done in 30-minute chunks—25 minutes on task, with a five-minute break.
Sales reps could use that five minutes go for a head-clearing walk. Grab a coffee. Read a sales blog or watch a training video. Setting aside time to catch their breath, literally and figuratively, gets them ready to go back to work refreshed.
10. Don’t give bad habits a chance to thrive
Successful sales reps put in the time to be productive. Just like in fitness, there really isn’t a silver bullet or a quick fix.
There are some shortcuts out there that do save sales teams time and money, without being detrimental to client relationships. Automating email drip campaigns or templating proposals are two examples. These help get vital information in front of leads promptly, while freeing up more time on the back end for the sales team.
What you shouldn’t stand for are reps taking the type of shortcuts that turn leads off. Bad habits like this include not doing enough research on a potential new client before reaching out (or worse, doing it while they’re on the phone with them), using a cookie-cutter sales approach, or not taking the time to fully understand a lead’s pain points.
Shortcuts like these are not worth it. They end up costing more in lost sales than the time they save, making them inefficient for getting back into the swing of sales momentum.
Bonus reminder: Do stay positive
In sales, as in fitness, there will be times when giving up and just maintaining the status quo starts to sound like a good option. Keeping a positive, can-do attitude is essential, whether it’s sales or health goals you’re chasing.
The important thing is how your sales reps approach the challenge of busting through a sales plateau. Motivation can be quite personal. What motivates one salesperson might not motivate the next. For sales managers, identifying motivators that work for their team members can help them restart or sustain their sales momentum.
Momentum is something that can’t be forced. We can, however, create ideal environments for it to flourish, and encourage it to stick around with these healthy habits for continuous sales growth.