Recessions can be daunting for many salespeople. In B2B sales, it means that companies are much more restrictive with their budget and it’s much harder to close deals. Selling in a recession is difficult, however, it’s also not impossible to find success. In this blog, we will explore why it is so hard to sell during a recession and what B2B sales teams can do to ensure they are still winning deals during a recession.
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Sales is never an easy profession but it is a lot easier to hit targets during an economic boom. The budgets get a little bigger and the consequences of making a purchasing error are much more manageable. Selling in a recession is difficult because the exact opposite is true. Budgets are reduced and an unnecessary or bad purchase decision can cost someone their job.
It would be wrong to assume that deals don’t close during recessions. Deals occur during economic downturns but they just become much harder to get through. Buyers use a lot more scrutiny when evaluating solutions. The strength of the product alone cannot carry a salesperson to their targets. To succeed in B2B sales during a recession, the salesperson needs to be well-prepared with the right skills and knowledge.
For a lot of B2B sales teams, account management is a reactive role. Account managers or client success reps will check in during renewal but only act reactively to customer complaints during the rest of the contract. This approach to account management can be very costly during an economic slowdown.
In an economic downturn, CFOs and business unit leaders will be looking at every expense to see where they can cut costs. The product that your team or company is selling might be really valuable to your clients but it’s not enough to rely on the strength of your product. When selling in a recession, sales leaders must instruct their account managers to contact each client and help them understand how indispensable your company’s solution is to their business. If your team isn’t addressing the client’s pain points directly, your competitors will. Learn more about account management best practices.
As mentioned above, a sales team can’t just rely on the strength of a product during a recession. Your competitors will also sharpen their products and ensure they have features that the customer base wants. These sorts of features can be replicated however, a consultative selling culture cannot be replicated so easily. The way that your salespeople sell can be the competitive advantage your sales team need to edge out your competition during a recession.
When buyers are making a purchasing decision during an economic slowdown, they are looking to work with people they can trust. There are serious consequences for making a bad purchasing decision so buyers want to work with salespeople that make them feel reassured and understood. The only way to accomplish this is for a salesperson to adopt a consultative approach to selling.
It is more than reasonable that clients would want to cut expenses wherever they can to survive an economic downturn. One of the keys to sales success during a recession is having the account management team take a proactive approach to their role. On top of reiterating the solutions value to the clients, sales teams should also be ready to restructure existing deals to accommodate their clients.
This doesn’t mean resorting to discounts. Perhaps a longer-term deal would be more beneficial to your team and for the client. Companies will be reevaluating their existing vendor agreements anyway so it is in your best interest to get ahead of it and see what your account managers can do to make the existing contract more appealing to the customers. This way, the seller has a chance to influence the client’s decision regarding which vendors will be cut from the budget.
It’s also important to level with your customers to keep your competition at bay. The wallet share is much smaller during economic downturn so there are more head-to-head competitions for the same wallet share. Contact your customers early and frequently to ensure you stay ahead of the competition.
Product features can be copied, but your competitors cannot replicate the way your team sells. Consultative selling is vital during an economic downturn but there are other skills that are just as important. As shown above, proper account management skills are critical for success when clients are looking to trim their budget.
Another skill set that is vital to increasing sales during a recession is prospecting. While there are ways to limit churn, every company will inevitably lose at least a handful of clients. That is not a huge issue if your sellers are also bringing in new business. It will require more persistence and effort but with proper B2B prospecting skills, sales teams can consistently add new meetings and opportunities to the sales funnel. You can also learn more about the most effective sales training techniques to ensure your team is equipped with the sales skills they need to add new clients during a recession.
The four strategies mentioned above will help your sales team get through a recession. If these strategies are adopted, it will also ensure that your sales team is ready for explosive growth when the recession turns around. During an economic boom, these strategies and skills will elevate your sales team above the competition.
To learn more about how Funnel Clarity can help you adopt and execute these strategies, you can book a free consultation call with us today.
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Jill Ulvestad is the founder of Funnel Clarity. Jill applies her expertise in driving sales performance and results, developing sales strategy and streamlining skills development to the Funnel Clarity team. With nearly 20 years of business development and consulting experience, Jill provides valued sales performance insight to her roles as co-founder and managing partner of Funnel Clarity. Previously, Jill spent 8 years with the sales performance firm Huthwaite where she served as the Vice President of Sales. She most recently was co-founder of Business Performance Partners, a sales and strategy consulting firm and led the coaching practice.