Selling is always hard, and it gets harder in an economic downturn.
For business leaders, the most painful effect of a downturn is uncertainty. Nobody – really, nobody at all – knows for certain how long a recession might last, what the stock market might do, or which industries will be most affected.
Sales leaders in particular are at the tip of the spear for their organizations’ assumptions about the business – how fast it can or should grow, the size and growth speed of their market. You feel the pain of uncertainty more acutely than anyone.
Sales leaders can’t eliminate every uncertainty, but you can focus on what is under your control and how you react.
Turn Up Selling in an Economic Downturn
By making smart investments and intentionally building a deeper connection with buyers and customers, you can get the most out of the organization you have today. According to LinkedIn’s buyer-first research, 35% of decision-makers rank trust as the top contributor in closing a deal — above ROI or price! Building trust takes time, which means driving efficiency for your team must be a priority.
The ideas below are my suggested starting points.
Drive Seller Efficiency and Productivity
Giving your team back selling time improves revenue per seller without adding headcount – essentially using technology as a “force multiplier.” This is an incredible tool during an economic downturn. I’ll talk more about this in a future post.
- Automate repetitive tasks: Technology can streamline revenue-critical tasks like the forecast roll-up, activity tracking, and multi-channel communication.
- Grow prospecting efficiency: Creating and executing intelligent sales workflows puts all sellers on a proven path to success.
- Increase technology adoption: In many cases, sellers who are using the technology you have purchased are generating more opportunities. Simply by increasing adoption rates, you may be able to increase revenue.
- Double down on coaching: Use cadence data like on-time percentage and skipped steps to identify where reps may be going astray. Head off problems early when you see a high number of calls or emails before a positive response.
- Consolidate your sales tech stack: In the rush to digital transformation, many organizations adopted point solutions that are now wasting more time than before. Should your company consider tech stack consolidation?
Focus on the Customer Experience
Selling in an economic downturn, customer churn is a leading indicator for companies. It’s a natural place to strengthen your position and again relies on the connections you are building.
Here are three ways to strengthen customer relationships:
- Encourage sellers to use sentiment analysis to gain insights on how buyers and customers are thinking and feeling so your team can quickly act and respond.
- Ensure everyone touching an account is on the same page with a single view of account engagement. Shared dashboards, activity history, and recorded and transcribed calls share the voice of the customer and keep your team aligned.
- Improve customer retention when the transition between departments is seamless and new team members are brought up-to-speed before talking with the customer. Don’t underestimate the value of a customer not having to repeat themselves.
A holistic view of the account activity, conversations, sentiment, and intelligent insights in one connected experience results in consistent, timely, and personalized outreach that creates authentic connection with your buyers and customers.
Concentrate on the Most Engaged Buyers
In an era where targets seem out of reach, it’s critical to proactively guide reps to be better and work smarter.
Now is the time to use technology as a guide – show reps where they should focus their time and prompt with the next best action:
Make sure your team has access to sentiment analysis and buyer engagement scores to anticipate buyer’s needs with actionable data. With automated touch points, they can nurture deals with less effort. That way, if lead and opportunity volume decreases, the efficiency gained will help keep pipelines at the right level. This enriched experience drives connection, increases deal velocity, and accelerates wins. I’ll go into more detail in a future post.
Position Your Revenue Team for the Future
At Salesloft we love sellers, and our value thesis is pretty simple: organizations operating without a sales engagement platform are operating below their potential. More specifically, they’re giving away revenue that is theirs to win with the people they have today – by enabling their productivity, improving the quality of the coaching they receive, and giving leadership the insights they need to make data-driven calls on sales strategy.
Selling in an economic recession is a great time to focus on efficiency, while deepening the connection with your buyers and customers. And the foundation sales leaders lay today won’t just provide the most disciplined growth through a recession – it will lay the basis for having a more effective and scalable sales strategy long into the future.
Recessions don’t last forever.