Best Practices for B2B sales in an Economic Downturn

Best Practices for B2B sales in an Economic Downturn

B2B sales in a financial crisis is a different beast

Were you around for the 2008 financial crisis? If you were in B2B sales then you remember how drastically different things were then just a year ago.

Selling in an economic downturn is never easy, but companies and salespeople can thrive. The tactics look different than what most B2B sales reps are used to. We had plenty of amazing years where everyone was buying. 

Sales jobs weren’t that difficult.

Now is the time when salespeople who put in the work will reap the rewards. Doing the little things well will make a difference in this market.

Today, let’s dive into the best practices that we learned from 2008/2009 when it comes to B2B sales in an economic downturn.

1) Who can buy now

Identify and prioritize the buyers who are most likely to purchase now.

These would be the industries that are less likely to be affected by a recession. Healthcare, lawyers, insurance companies, and so forth. 

Create Buyer Segments

  • Buy now
  • Cancel subscripts/contracts
  • Decrease utilization of services
  • Delay payments/spending

This then helps you create nurture plans. It’s important to not forget about the people who can’t buy right now but will be able to once the economy recovers. Those buyers should be nurtured.

2) Product/Service Pricing

Forrester has a great article outlining how to assess your product/pricing/packaging. This may be the time to switch things up if your ICP is most likely to cancel/not buy.

  • Product mix. Do you have offerings that will meet buyers’ immediate, near-term, and longer-term needs?
  • Product packaging. Perhaps you have the offerings, but consider if they need to be packaged differently. For example, do buyers seek an entry-level, freemium version?
  • Revenue and profit. Given changes in buyer response by segment, how will this potentially affect purchasing of products? Existing and future revenue? Profit?


3) Marketing & Sales Alignment

When your teams don’t align internally (more common than you may realize), then you’re already swimming against the tide. 

B2B sales during an economic downturn is the best time to align these two functions.

Questions to ask your team:

  • How can you produce more valuable content that will actually help your potential customers? 
  • How can we shift our marketing spend to where our buyers will be with this shift?
  • What are the major pain points and how have they changed against how we sold a year ago?
  • How should our goals change? 

Even better, make sure everyone on the team can tell your customer story. It’s more important now than ever.

4) Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

If you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon already with personalization, now is the time.

B2B sales reps who spend the extra time personalizing their approach will see a greater return.

Let’s show you some email examples:

Credit: Kyle Coleman on LinkedIn

5) Stay Disciplined

We said it before, but those that will thrive in B2B sales during an economic downturn are the ones who stay disciplined and make the details “perfect”.

If you’re a B2B sales rep, work on the things you’re not the best at. Whether that’s cold calling, cold emails, building your list, etc. Becoming great at all of the little things will help you more than you realize.

A good sales strategy helps to obtain better results and greater predictability. Using discipline allows you to determine where you and your team need to improve the process in order to obtain better results. Taking shortcuts never works!

Best Practices for B2B Sales in an Economic Downturn

In all, there are probably 30 other “best practices” we could put together. But if you stick with these five you will see results.

Remember that B2B sales need to focus on solving problems, not your product. People would rather run away from pain instead of run toward pleasure. The “vitamins vs. painkillers” debate.

We had a whole podcast episode about this – check it out below.

Here are some other articles that we wrote that expand upon some of our thoughts above. Hope they help!

  1. Smaller Sales Team, Same Quota? Now what.
  2. Using Call Intelligence Software During An Economic Downturn