Whether your team is smaller in size of employees, budget, or just tools, there is no time to dwell. The evidence is compelling, those who put in the work now can see an exponential outcome. Through the pandemic, sales teams had to make drastic changes to ensure teams were hitting their quota… the same thing has to happen now.
On the other side, many businesses did not adapt and their teams struggled.
Due to the pandemic, the way we work is now different and our productivity has shifted along with that. Many businesses were not able to adapt while others found growth. If you aren’t sure which one you’re going to be in with the upcoming recession, don’t worry as that’s exactly what we’re going to dive into so that your team can weather the storm.
We’ll give you the best advice and tactics we’ve heard from our many years in sales to ensure you and your team hit your goals and weather the storm.
A 2008 Bain & Co. study found that during the last recession more than 20% of companies in the lower quartile of their industry jumped to the top quartile. Can you believe that? Just because your team is small doesn’t mean you can make a big difference during a recession.
What’s Important During A Recession
The game changes during a recession, which means the way you do things now might not work. This includes your standard of sales training and onboarding. How you approach your sales team will be different.
While in a rising economy, you may wait months to test a new process or email cadence that is not the case now. You want to be able to respond and change quickly if something is not working. This also goes for your sales team. If they can’t keep up and have an open mindset, then change may be looming for them.
Recession Proof Your Pipeline
Figure out what industries will thrive based on the current economic times. For example, healthcare generally doesn’t take a hit because there will always be a need for their services. How can you adapt your product and your approach to these industries? Yes this means you need to take your sales training up a level and work with your product team more often than before.
However, this also means other businesses are thinking the same thing. Competition will rise. Ensure you can provide value before you start selling.
Marketing + Sales
Everyone always says you need to increase your marketing spending in a recession, which of course is great if you have the cash flow. But what happens if you don’t?
You can still push your team forward if you align marketing and sales together. How can you produce more valuable content that will actually help your potential customers? While your marketing spend might remain the same, you can increase it in your most profitable channels when reducing it in others.
Immediate Tactics You Can Do Right Now
Everyone gives great strategy advice, but what most people (like yourself) are seeking is what can I do right now to help.
Let’s dive in…
1) Leadership needs to sit down and discuss the path forward. Ensure everyone is on the same page, especially if you’re starting to see a decline in sales.
2) Each team should meet after leadership is on the same page. Allow everyone to express their feelings/opinions/ideas. You will immediately see those who are ready to embrace change and push forward, as well as those who will freeze and would rather do nothing than something.
3) Review industry and product capabilities. What industries are you currently focused on? What could you potentially dive into? What are the pros and cons of both?
4) Set realistic goals and quota for your team. Times are different, which means sales numbers will be different. If you have unrealistic goals, your team’s buy-in will suffer.
5) Make changes fast. If you’ve been dragging on an underperforming employee, now is the time to make a change. If you’ve been throwing money at Google Ads with no results, it’s time to find another channel. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way is the best way to make sure you don’t succeed during a recession.
Sales Training & Compensation
We touched on this above, but it’s important so we want to expand on our thoughts. Whether you have seasoned or new reps, your sales training, and compensation need to change.
Sales training is focused on new markets, product capabilities, and overcoming your most common objection – we don’t have the budget.
If you’re focused on overcoming objections around your competition then you’ve already lost. Budget line items are thin, find a way your product can provide value faster and you’ll win.
Now sales compensation is different. You need to give your team goals, but they need to be realistic otherwise sales will decline even more than predicted. Throw out your old goals and redefine them right away.
Remove performance minimums – that get paid to reps, even the low performing ones, for any sales. But as we said early, low performing reps may need to go.
Introduce enhanced earnings opportunities for bigger sales (ex: long-term deals)
Opt-in for shorter contract periods (annual to quarterly) to allow reps to get into above-quota accelerators more often throughout the year.
Place value on metrics – CRM updates, calls made, meetings booked, etc. You can incorporate these into monthly challenges in which winners get a bonus, etc.
At the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is curl up in a ball and wait. You will get left behind.
Give motivation and hope during tough times
If you’re a leader, this is your time to shine. Embrace tough times because if you can get through them and succeed, there will be opportunities galore on the other side. Don’t be afraid to take risks, but even more importantly make sure to take ownership of something that doesn’t work out.
Your sales team will look up to you and want to meet their goals if they see you grinding through the tough days making cold calls with them.
Smaller sales team, same quota? So what. Go out there and make changes that will positively impact yours.