In addition to the strategies mentioned in the Call Center Management Strategies, Sales Management, and Sales Call Analysis & Feedback sections, another key principle to be aware of when managing salespeople who have expected closing performance standards is the Dummy Curve. I first learned about this principle from sales trainer and coach David Sandler, who has written many sales-related books and programs. The Dummy Curve can be used to explain everything from why new reps do so well in the beginning only to have their closing effectiveness fall off to veteran sales rep slumps and even beginner’s luck at things like poker. In several sales organizations, I have taken months of data for each rep (past and present) to create a predictive model for exactly when a new rep will start to fail at closing deals.
Several strategies can be used to lessen a drop off in performance, whether reps are rookies or veterans. Management’s goal should be to predict accurately when the slumps will occur and proactively coach and retrain reps in order to mitigate a rep’s actions so the “low” won’t be as low and they can pull out of it sooner and more easily. Every rep goes through slumps, so management’s focus should be helping to buffer the slump to avoid losing the rep altogether.
My goal with an organization and its managers is to create awareness of the Dummy Curve, why it happens, what to do to avoid it, and then to fix it at the rep level. I take sales performance data dating back as far as possible and conduct an analysis to determine the cyclical timelines for the Dummy Curve in the organization. Working with management, I build proactive and reactive coaching and training programs as needed, and also set up systems for them to analyze ongoing data to spot when a new or veteran rep is en route to a slump that can hopefully be avoided.
Closing Consistency Tip
When reps hit slumps, they have usually gone “off script” (even if you do not have a script) and are over-talking, over-explaining, or potentially “rebutting” (bringing up objections you expect the prospect to make that the prospect wasn’t even thinking of) with themselves. The first thing to do is get the rep back on script, if you have one, and back to asking questions. The prospect should be talking twice as much as the rep, but usually veteran reps feel they already know what prospects will say so they stop asking questions. When prospects speak more, they feel your rep cares about them.