A Downturn is Coming at Some Point
Pundits tell us that, like the next earthquake, an economic recession is inevitable and on its way.  The good news is that for both disasters, natural and economic, the right preparation can minimize the negative effects.  Is your sales team prepared for a downturn?

How to Get Your Sales Team Prepared
Making the right moves now can enhance your chances of pulling ahead of those who didn’t properly prepare.  The best time to make those moves is now – before the economy stalls.  In fact, an analysis by Bain & Co. found that sales teams that prepared ahead of time reported over four times higher compounded growth rates. But what are the moves that can make the difference?

6 Sales Moves to Prepare for a Downturn
Assuming your organization is currently in a healthy financial position with the basics under control, here are some moves to consider under your sales umbrella.  Let technology help you figure out which moves would be most beneficial in your industry, market, and situation:

1. Ensure High Quality
Make sure that your company is delivering high quality products and services compared to the competition. Your ability to sell starts with having something differentiated to offer your customers.  If your offerings are not good enough, invest in making them as good or better than the competition before it is too late so that you can improve your ability to get qualified referrals.

2. Identify and Reinforce What’s Working
Figure out which sales strategies, behaviors, and skills correlate most with high performance. Then make sure you fully support the strategies, reinforce the behaviors culturally, and develop and reinforce the skills through customized business sales training and coaching.  Make sure you focus only the critical few sales scenarios that matter most.  This will form the foundation of your sales engine.

3. Focus on Target Clients
Not all customers make sense. Ruthlessly focus on your ideal target clients and stop chasing prospects that do not fit and stop investing in accounts that are not profitable or are misaligned with your sales strategy.  Get your sales team spending most of their time with either high performing or high potential accounts.

4. Get Customer Intimate
Putting the customer first is an important first step in building long-lasting relationships that can weather an economic downturn.  Invest in deepening your understanding of your customer’s business and prepare to flex to your customers’ changing and emerging needs.  This includes the possibility of adding less expensive inside sales capabilities to handle more transactional accounts.

5. Shift Non-Sales Work to the Back Office
Don’t overburden your sales force with administrative chores that can be handled efficiently by technology or staff. Your sales team needs to focus on adding customer value, not internal hurdles.  If your sales team spends less than 75% of their time with customers, then you have a problem.

6. Update Sales Forecasting
When things are going well, sales team tend to worry less about an accurate sales pipeline and more about closing deals. Do not less this happen to your team.  According to research from the Aberdeen Group, companies with accurate sales forecasts are 10% more likely to grow their revenue year-over-year and 7.3% more likely to hit quota.

The Bottom Line
If you want a high performing sales team in both good and bad times, make sure that you build the discipline required to consistently outperform the competition.  If, and when, the next recession starts, you may not have the luxury of investing in doing it right.

To learn more sales moves to prepare for a downturn, download 3 Critical Sales Warning Signs at Your Strategic Accounts

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