How to Deal When You’re Having a Bad Sales Month

Having a bad sales month? We’ve all been there. Nobody is answering the phone and emails, and it seems like your prospects are falling off the face of the Earth. Two days until the end of the month; your quota is complete by 67%.

salesperson overcoming a bad sales month

You can’t seem to get into a groove, and frustration is becoming all too familiar of an emotion. It’s official: You’re in a slump.

However, it’s not the slump itself that really matters, but what we do to address it. In this article, experts from HubSpot, Belkins Agency, and more share powerful tactics they resort to stay upbeat.

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What makes a bad sales month?

A bad sales month can be attributed to a variety of factors, ranging from internal processes to external market conditions. Sales experts set off the common seven:

1. Inadequate pipeline management

A thin or poorly managed sales pipeline can lead to a slump in conversions, as it fails to continuously and efficiently move prospects to the point of sale.

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2. Poor customer experience

HubSpot’s research suggests that poor customer service can drive away potential sales. If one in six shoppers leave due to bad experiences, it’s crucial to maintain high service standards to avoid losing potential revenue.

3. Ineffective sales processes

Top sellers spend around six hours a week researching prospects. If this critical activity is neglected, sales teams may not fully understand their prospects’ needs and budgets, which are pivotal in closing sales. Also, they will merely waste their time (read money) on insufficient B2B prospecting.

On the other hand, poor sales processes may stem from sales qualification, sales pitches, or even sales follow-ups.

4. Economic factors

External economic downturns, increased competition, or changes in consumer behavior can all impact sales figures. Consider this year, we all saw a dip in sales and massive layouts due to the global recession.

5. Inaccurate sales forecasting

If sales forecasting is off the mark, this can lead to a misalignment of expectations and reality, which may lead to a bad month if targets are not met.

6. Marketing and sales misalignment

A disconnect between marketing efforts and sales goals is a common cause of low sales. It manifests in poor lead quality, insufficient lead volume, or unclear messaging, affecting the sales numbers.

7. Seasonality

Sales can naturally fluctuate due to seasonal trends or industry cycles. We have no pill for this.

What happens when you have a bad month in sales?

First of all, a bad month in sales plummets morale and may hinder the sales team’s performance in the next month. Secondly, it reveals ineffective sales strategies and underlies issues with sales data quality or management.

When I led a sales team of a startup Signum AI, I twice failed our monthly targets. For the first time, it happened due to poor sales forecasting that didn’t count seasonal trends. The other month didn’t hit targets because of inadequate pipeline management; specifically, the team failed to complete the next steps on time, which resulted in poor pipeline visibility and missed opportunities.

Whatever the cause, be prepared to recover your team and boost their morale as well as upskill.

Leading a Team During a Bad Sales Month

Lightening the mood of your team through a challenging sales month can be like herding cats through a dog park. It seems impossible, but with the right attitude and a sense of humor, you’ll make it out with a few less scratches.

I’m no pro at anecdotes, so I used to boost my team’s morale by pinpointing the old truth: “Good and great outcomes can come from bad. It’s an opportunity to strengthen our sales process and skills. Let’s dig into the analytics and come up with sound solutions.”

What was also important was to instill a sense of support and trust in my team. We all start questioning our abilities when failing targets. And so we think that our managers frown upon us.

I made sure to convey the message that all is fine. Nobody wins every match. We did our best at that moment. It wasn’t enough, though. But that’s our room for improvement and fantastic sales months ahead.

Try it, and you’ll see sparks in your sales team’s eyes.

How sales experts lead their teams through a rough sales month

Read on how two recognized sales experts approach their teams in times of uncertainty.

1. Communicate that rough sales months are normal.

“These fluctuations are a typical aspect of business operations.

“Your sales team is at the forefront of economic, social, and political shifts. The disruptions will continue, especially with the advancement of technology altering the landscape of work, like with AI. To boost your team’s ability to withstand challenges, encourage them to maintain an adaptable mindset and reassure them that ‘this too shall pass.’” — Todd Caponi, author of “The Transparency Sale and The Transparent Sales Leader”

2. Embrace discomfort and cultivate resilience.

“Sometimes you win. Most times (statistically speaking) you lose. You may never find out why that customer ghosted you, why the most risk-averse buyer chose the least accomplished vendor, or why that executive beat you up for a 30% discount before deciding to shelve the project.

“Build the layers of resiliency to survive in this amazing profession. In many cases, you won’t be able to connect the dots. Sometimes you just need to let it go and move forward.” — David Priemer, Founder and Chief Sales Scientist at Cerebral Selling, author.

3. Disassociate your personal identity from the outcomes.

“You can do so much within the sales process but still not get the opportunity to close it just because of external factors. Dissociate. Focus more on the output — of what you’re actually doing to lead towards a better result. This way, you’ll be much more fulfilled.” — Marcus Chan, President & Founder of Venli Consulting Group

4. Take great care of your team’s well-being and mobilize them to regain confidence.

“Bad sales months are bound to happen if you are in business long enough. The best way to mitigate the potential impact of a down month is to plan for them to happen!

“I remember when the war started in Ukraine. It was February 24th, 2022. We had a full pipeline of deals that were going to close in March. February had been a strong month, and we expected March to be no different. When Russia launched the invasion, it sent shockwaves throughout the world, and all of our prospective clients had large fears because our team was built and established in Ukraine.

“We watched as deal after deal fell off of our forecast, and there wasn’t much that we could do about it.

“We took immediate action to mobilize our team to ensure that everyone was safe (our top priority), that everyone had resources to help them during this time of uncertainty, and that everyone had the ability to continue with their work.

“What we saw was baffling. We witnessed our delivery team dig their heels in and start over-delivering for our existing clients. Our front-line salespeople were able to see that our team would not be shaken and that nothing would stop us from delivering on our commitments to our clients.

“We kept our heads held high. We didn’t lose hope. We stayed true to our promises.” — Brian Hicks, VP of Sales at Belkins Agency

How to Rebound from a Bad Sales Month

Get ready for more tips from sales managers who rebound from rough sales months.

Control what you can control.

“Knowing the difference between the things that you can control and those you can’t (and reacting appropriately) is crucial in combating a bad month.

“You can’t control whether or not the person you’re calling is going to answer the phone, even if you’ve followed the best prospecting practices. However, you can control how many calls you make in a day, so stay focused and maximize effectiveness during the day.

“Another thing you can’t control is the budget or timeline constraints of your prospects’ companies, but you can control the amount of value you show for your product or service and the urgency you create throughout the sales process.” — Ryan McDonald, Sales Manager, Mid-Market at HubSpot

Brian Hicks, VP of Sales at Belkins Agency, also sticks to this rule, and it shows powerful results when communicated to the team correctly:

“In March 2022, our sales team closed $43,500 in MRR ($522,000 ARR) against a quota of $175,890 MRR ($2.1m ARR), then rebounded in April to close $108,500 MRR ($1.3m ARR) against a quota of $111,100 MRR ($1.33m ARR)…A 97.3% quota attainment! We had just missed our team goal by over 75% in March and came back to hit it the following month.

“We focused on ensuring that our team was safe, taken care of, and in the right mental state to continue with our mission. We all agreed that things happen in the world that are outside of our control, so we would control what we could control. We rallied behind each other every step of the way and ensured that we were all supporting one another.

“We operated with a ‘ONE BAND ONE SOUND’ mentality, and it created an environment that wouldn’t let that bad month stick around for long. Sometimes you have to accept that a different plan is needed, and you call an audible to keep your team ahead of changing tides and circumstances.”

Look at the sales data to spot the cause and reflect.

“Our brains create false realities around us when we fail, fed by our fears. If I had a bad sales day, week, or month, I’d look at the data. Every conversion and every part of the funnel counts. I’d also listen to my own sales calls. And I simply would go back like, ‘Oh, you know what? I botched this part. I could’ve elaborated deeper into the pain.’ When you force yourself to have a level of self-awareness, it forces you to pause, reflect, and become better.” — Marcus Chan, President & Founder of Venli Consulting Group

Discipline to keep doing the right things to hit targets

Sabri Suby, Founder and Head of Growth at KingKong, addresses why some months you can put in the hours and still not see the results in the real meeting with his sales team. And how discipline helps rebound.

Watch this video for fantastic tips:

Be proactive, not reactive.

“When things aren’t going your way, the worst thing you can do is just sit back and wait for the winds to change. Sometimes, when it feels like everything is going against you, the best medicine is to just put your head down and work your way through it.

For instance, you could decide to make 25 extra calls in a month, check in on old prospects or actively ask around for referrals. What you can’t do, though, is wait for someone to come along and throw you a rope. Put yourself in a position to climb out of the hole on your own.” — Ryan McDonald, Sales Manager, Mid-Market at HubSpot

Focus on what your team did to boost morale

“Some of your top performers are going to go into slumps. And you’re going to coach them how to get out of it to ensure they perform at the same level. How? Focus on what they did when they were successful — not on the slump.

“Convince them that they’re still that person on the top of the leaderboard. Check their activity together. If they were doing everything right, keep them focused on the fundamentals. Maybe make some tweaks in the process but pump them up. They’ll pull themselves out of the slump.” — Dave Lorenzo, President and CEO of the International Association of Business Advisors.

Empower your team and scrutinize the data to recover from a bad sales month

Don’t get discouraged when your sales team doesn’t hit targets. It’s ever-present. It may happen even twice in a row. Accept the failure, find and ditch the root cause, and come up with creative ways to hit new targets during economic downturns.

We all win, we all fail. When you rebound from a bad month, share your story on LinkedIn to empower your colleagues.

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