Breaking The Slump

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I just finished reading an entertaining book, Breaking the Slump by Jimmy Roberts.  Roberts is a sports reporter for ESPN, ABC, and NBC.  The book is specifically about golf, but the lessons learned from the dozen or so golfers he interviewed can easily, and I believe successfully, be applied to life in general.

The overriding theme of the different stories profiled is that; one, everyone will hit a slump, and two, you’re in a slump because something changed.  It’s amazing to me that these highly skilled professional athletes, who spend thousands of hours practicing, would have something as fundamental as the way the hold the club, change over time. For most of them, the way they broke out of their slump was to get back to basics.  Some returned to their first coach, others went back to old equipment they use to use, others simply started enjoying the game again.

So how does this apply to business, and specifically the wine business.  My principal skill set is sales.  I’m pretty good at it, and have had a fair amount of success.  I’ve also had slumps.  Weeks, even months, when I couldn’t close a deal.  Most often it was due to one of two things.  I had either lost my enthusiasm for what I was selling, or I had stopped doing the basics and just jumped to the end game.  If I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit I had stopped working as hard as I had to, and tried to coast on my past successes.

How many wineries are in a slump today?  Easy to blame it on the economy, and maybe that is the total reason.  However, I suspect that some of us have strayed from the basics that built our business in the first place.  Do we spend time in the tasting room connecting with our customers, or do we leave that to the staff?  Have we picked up the phone and placed a call to some club members, or have we just been too busy for that?  How about market visits? Have we spent time in the trenches with our distributors? Have we looked at our pricing in relation to our competition? Most importantly, are we, and our staff, still enjoying what we are doing?  Are we letting the pressure of todays market dampen our enthusiasm, and reflect in our dealings with our customers?

Is there a magic pill for breaking out of a slump? Unfortunately,no there is not.  Most often it is as elemental as remembering how you became successful in the first place, and returning to those actions.

Good luck, and good selling,