What happened: They say a sales slump can occur with new salespeople at six months. I barely sold a third of my calls in my second month. Yet, in the month following, I sold eight of 12 leads. But I had two weeks of no sales, on 12 leads. I couldn't find a common theme.

What I learned: I realized I needed to talk to people and get reinforcement that the slump wouldn't last. I needed to keep trying. I looked at my process. As I got busy, I found I wasn't preparing as well as I could have for appointments. I also realized I judged myself too harshly, thinking that something was wrong with me. I realized I was personalizing the sale. --Guy Marzano

What the sales expert says: A salesman can be in a slump before he realizes it. Something happens -- usually a sales experience, maybe a dominant customer. Or, he's taking a shortcut or is making wrong assumptions and has shortened his process. He keeps practicing, but it's not the right process. There's a deviation from the way things should be, and pretty soon, the deviation is a mainstay. Then he's in a slump.

The deviation can be caused by emotions or personal problems. It causes a slip in routine. If this happens, review your process. Examine whether you're doing something differently. Contact a mentor. Have them join you on a call. Look at yourself objectively: What am I doing right and wrong? Don't be concerned with making a sale -- just tell your story. If you concentrate on that, and not the pressure of making a sale, you'll slip out of your slump.

Sales is a numbers game. Once you make a sale, you'll be back on top. --Lon Bennett

Guy Marzano is a new sales rep with Case Handyman Services of Golden Valley, Minn. We'll recap his experiences over the coming issues. Lon Bennett is national sales manager with Case Handyman Services, Bethesda, Md.