The Ups and Downs of the Sales Roller Coaster

For the most part, I like roller coasters. Everything from the tension-building climb at the very beginning of the ride, to the feeling of weightlessness as you hit the top of a hill, or the heavy feeling as you hit the bottom of that same hill, to the relief of surviving the ride at the very end. It’s all very thrilling.

For this blog, I’m talking about a different kind of roller coaster. The sales roller coaster. And it’s not much fun. Oh, sure, you still hear screams on the sales roller coaster (from your manager). You still get a heavy feeling (from poor sales results). You still feel tension building (between you and the manager). You still feel like you’re floating on air at times (when you have a good month). You still worry about surviving in the end (remember the tension between you and the screaming manager?). But it’s not fun.


What is the Sales Roller Coaster?

The sales roller coaster is the name given to the sales chart of a salesperson that closes a lot of deals one month, then has no sales the following month, only to be followed by another month of success, and then another dry month, etc. etc. When you chart the rep’s year of sales, it shows these undulating peaks and valleys that follow their sales-no sales-sales-no sales pattern. The sales roller coaster is fairly common, but you can get off of it.


What Causes the Sales Roller Coaster?

What is interesting is that the sales roller coaster is caused by good things:

  • Closing deals
  • Following up on tasks
  • Prospect research
  • Addressing prospect objections
  • Demos and presentations
  • Administrative paperwork
  • Helping coworkers
  • Volunteering for special projects
  • Answering your manager’s calls
  • And on and on.

How can all these good things cause something bad like the roller coaster? The problem arises from WHEN all of those tasks are performed.


Timing of Sales Tasks

In order to maintain a steady track of sales, you need to keep your sales pipeline filled to the same level. When you convert prospects into new opportunities, you need to refill your pipeline with the correct number of new prospects. This “correct number” is determined by your conversion rate. If you convert opportunities at a rate of 20%, or 1 in 5, this means that for every 5 prospects, you create one new opportunity. So, while you are trying to close that opportunity, you need to add 5 more new prospects to replace them in your pipeline.

Many good salespeople will work hard to get their opportunities to close. They get very focused on following up, addressing objections, completing paperwork, and presenting. They are also good employees, so they readily help coworkers, volunteer for projects, answer their manager, and complete other tasks. They do all of these good things, but they neglect something extremely important: Prospecting. 


Time for Prospecting

Their calendar is filled with times to complete all other projects, but they forget to add time to prospect. Or, they have time in the calendar blocked off to prospect, but they “always have more urgent tasks pop up that require completion during that “prospecting time.” So, what happens is those other tasks get completed, their opportunities eventually close one way or the other, but they have a depleted pipeline, so they don’t have enough opportunities the following month to hit their goals. They get forced to prospect that following month, but those won’t convert to opportunities or close until the month after that. Do you see a pattern forming? Do you hear the clack-clack-clack of the roller coaster starting?

There is a very simple solution to stay off the ride. Respect your calendar!!


Respect your Calendar

Block off time to prospect every single day. Either one long block, or multiple shorter blocks. Add those blocks to your calendar. Don’t change those blocks. Add an alarm at the beginning of the block. Stop whatever you are doing when that alarm goes off. Get on the phone and prospect. If a client wants to meet with you during your prospecting time, find another time to meet. If your manager needs to speak to you during your prospecting time, find another time for them. If a coworker needs your help during your prospect time, find another time for them. If you just closed a sale and you need to complete the paperwork for that sale, and your prospecting time is beginning, congratulate yourself, relax, and find another time to complete the paperwork. 

I can hear you say, “Easier said than done!”, especially when a client is requesting your attention during prospecting time. I agree, but TRY to move that meeting to another block of time FIRST. You’ll find that many times another block of time will work just as well for them. That goes for your manager, your coworkers, and the paperwork as well.

Respect your calendar. Keep your pipeline filled with prospects. Stay off the roller coaster! 


Additional Resources

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