How to avoid the 'holiday slide'

This time of year, I normally write articles focusing on the "Holiday Slide" calling out the fact that most salespeople begin to wind down their prospecting activities and get in the holiday spirit.

The simple excuse they make to justify this action is, "Nobody buys this time of year as they are in the holiday spirit so we should kick back and enjoy the season." Since this is their belief, they halfheartedly hunt for new business with the expectation that no one will want to speak with them and guess what ... self-fulfilling prophecy.

Unfortunately, the same broken thinking is being applied to the impact of COVID-19. If you listen to the news or social media, you will hear enough gloom and doom to make you want to go back to bed, pull the covers up, and wait for this to pass. Far too many salespeople are justifying poor performance with the thought, "Nobody is buying, they are waiting for the pandemic to run its course" and the same self-fulfilling prophecy will be the result of their halfhearted efforts.

The one area of my business that has been consistent since March 19 when we shuttered is, "Prospect every day and you will be rewarded for your efforts." Granted, quite a few businesses have been and are adversely impacted in a major way, but not enough to hide behind the excuse mediocre salespeople are offering for poor performance.

Before I sat down to write this article, I reviewed my journal and collected some of the lessons I have had since the pandemic impacted my business:

1. Check your belief system.

Most salespeople are led by their beliefs, which are not always positive. It's time to review your beliefs and rewrite them if they do not support high performance. If you believe that no one buys in this time frame than you are the problem, not your prospects.

2. Revisit your commitment to success.

Eighty percent of salespeople have conditional commitment to success. If you are in the 80%, then you will buy in to the excuses that prospects tell you. Unconditional commitment to success means you will do everything in your power, whether it makes you uncomfortable or not, to achieve your sales goals.

3. Set goals for the December and January time frame.

If your only goal is to get through the impact of COVID-19, time will pass, and you will achieve your goal. However, if you goal is to prosper when other lesser salespeople are struggling, set specific sales goals and raise the number of selling engagements you have each week.

4. Find accountability partner who will be honest with you.

Salespeople need a "competitive playing field" to truly challenge themselves, so they should find an accountability partner and develop competitive growth challenges. Most accountability partners spend too much time commiserating as they find themselves with the same issues as their partner. If you have a weak belief system you should partner with someone who has a stronger one.

5. Check your spine.

I have had mentors in my life for as long as I have been in the business world and have been supplied with a wealth of knowledge throughout my interactions. One piece of advice offered by a longtime mentor especially applies to today's business environment. He said, "Bartlett, all you need is guts and humor to survive in the business world."

As a result, every day I set three gutsy goals that stretch my sales spine and keep it stronger than my prospect's, which gives me the best chance of developing equal business stature.

Now is the time to be disciplined and to approach the pandemic excuses prospects give you as an opportunity to shine. Realize that 20% of salespeople are thriving in this COVID-19 fueled environment ... why not you? Go conquer your worlds.

• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. Text "salestip" to 35893 to receive Bill's biweekly newsletter.

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