If you ever played sports in high school, you may have tried to make the hockey team but never could; or perhaps despite hours of practice at tennis, you never managed to reach varsity level.
Maybe you’ve been on a diet recently to lose some Corona weight and after losing 5 kilograms you couldn’t lose any more, even though you were still doing all the things that made you successful in dropping it before.
What do these two things have in common? They’re examples of hitting a plateau. While to some the word may invoke imagery of a picturesque New Mexican landscape, for others it can be a frustrating reality in which they experience success up until a certain point and then hit a ceiling.
What is a sales plateau?
A business plateau is based on the same general idea. A business has been steadily growing for years until suddenly, it’s not. It’s not the worst thing: the business keeps pulling in revenue, finds the same number of new clients every year, and retains its existing customers.
In sales, a sales rep is hitting their quota but no longer surpasses it, or no longer reaches it when it’s raised even though their volume hasn’t gone down at all. It becomes a problem for the team and the manager because there’s no trend to follow as to when or how deals will climb. This not only poses a problem for accurate sales forecasting but it means revenue is not reaching its full potential.
Signs that you’ve hit a plateau
Looking at the sales plateau definition above it may seem like hitting one would be obvious, but that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes it doesn’t click for someone that they’ve hit a plateau until way after it’s started. And as we are well aware in sales, lagging behind in numbers means losing wins to competitors.
If any of these look familiar, you may be headed towards (or already in) a slump:
- Your sales pipeline is clogged with aged deals that have gone nowhere for more than six months
- Overall activities have slowed
- Each month there are less deals closed with new clients
- There aren’t as many new leads generated
- You’re working harder but seeing less results
If any one or all of these situations has crept up on the team, don’t worry: like any slump, all it takes is a rev of the ol’ sales engine to get past it.
3 steps to break through a sales plateau
Just because you, your team, or your business has hit a growth plateau doesn’t mean the demand is no longer there. Clients are still buying, they just need to be pulled in the right direction.
Let’s take an in-depth look at three ways to boost sales in 2021.
Prioritize client relations
Today many sales reps, especially those in the B2B industry, can benefit from relationship based selling. Relationship based selling focuses on nurturing a long term relationship with prospects and clients. Just like you might be more likely to purchase handmade satin face masks from your friend’s aunt, your prospects are more likely to buy from you if you have an existing relationship.
A good relationship starts with the sales person doing outside research about prospects before engaging them using social media and other online information to discover talking points. Not every interaction should be treated like a sales pitch: instead, speak of comment interests and empathize with them in a human-to-human way rather than a seller-to-buyer way.
Be a good listener to clients and prospective clients. Find out their paint points, figure out what they value or don’t really care about, and become a guide in their buying process. Responding promptly to any questions or follow-ups also helps: fifty percent of buyers choose the vendor that replies first! And, of course, keep in touch even after you make the sale.
Sales enablement, a buzzword that has no doubt crossed any seller’s path this year, is an AI tool that facilitates the aforementioned meaningful conversations with prospects. Read more here about using sales enablement to break through a sales plateau.
In difficult times, tweak business strategy
There’s no other way around it! Diagnose areas that can be improved, make some alterations, and observe what they do for sales. Then, tweak as needed.
- Reassessing target demographic: Can you market to other groups? Have you been selling in a way that works for one demographic but may not be as well received to others? For instance, B2B companies have recently had to adapt for selling to Gen Z in the workforce.
- Expanding geographically: Companies were already moving more activities online, and now with Covid, business has shifted to the digital sphere. While there’s a learning curve to this, it’s also extremely valuable because it means sales teams can sell to anywhere in the world, not just locally.
- Adjusting demos and trials: With customer relationships increasingly going digital, it’s harder to build trust without face-to-face interactions. Offering more product demos and longer trials can fill that gap and let customers know you’re there to help them. This will be one of the key B2B selling trends of 2021.
- Revisiting your lead scoring process: In the rush of trying to make new sales, people can forget to carefully score leads. It results in time wasted chasing prospects that have low likelihood of buying. It’s good practice to regularly review data and identify what your ideal customer looks like.
Come to RevGarage’s webinar
RevGarage has set up a webinar with Mark Roberge, the former CRO for HubSpot. The topic is just what we’re talking about here: how to break through a sales plateau by leveraging the tools and data that you have on hand. Mark Roberge should know, he grew HubSpot’s Arr from 0-$100M.
The best part? The agenda is all open, so you can get answers to your own questions from one of the leading figures in sales. Leading topics right now include:
- How to overcome a sales plateau if you are a startup whose initial launch-oriented sales strategy is starting to flop
- How to understand what sales actions bring best results in terms of revenue and how to scale them
- How to use analytics and data to “moneyball” my sales team? Can i use it to reboot and win new market
Go sign up and put in your own questions! See you there.