With the threat of recession looming, it’s essential that business leaders are prepared to deal with the slowdown that comes with an economic downturn. As budget cuts increase and the sales cycle slows considerably, sales representatives can expect an upturn in objections and rejections – something they must be equipped to handle in advance. Selling in a recession requires preparation, increased creativity and, often, a change in strategy.
Unsure of where to start? Take advantage of our strategies to help you sell in a recession and secure your growth.
How to Sell in a Recession
Understand the new pain points of clients
There is a misconception that businesses stop their spending altogether as soon as there is a threat of a recession. While yes, budget cuts are likely, an economic downturn will often bring about new pain points for your target market – and thus, new opportunities for you to sell.
An essential part of successfully selling in a recession is understanding these new pain points and how your product/service can help solve them. Take time to consider how your prospective customers may have been affected by the recession and adapt your messaging to pitch your service as a solution they simply can’t pass up on.
What worked for your sales team may no longer work in a recession, so don’t be passive and stick to the traditional approach. Reframe the benefits of your product/service to make it all the more tempting.
Increase sales activities
It’s typical for sales cycles to get even longer during an economic downturn, as there are more hoops to jump through as people are increasingly worried about unnecessary spending. An increase in the decision-making process is likely, as every cost is scrutinised – no matter how essential.
In light of these changes, it is imperative to focus on increasing your sales team’s output and the number of touchpoints they make on a prospect.
Set a sustainable target for your representatives to meet; it can be tempting to up the number severely, but this will likely result in burnout. One way of getting around this is by using an outsourced sales company, as this will increase the amount of activity done on behalf of your product/service, generating pipeline and accelerating sales without running your current team into the ground.
By diversifying your team with an outsourced sales team, you’ll get to utilise new strategies and skills – something that can make all the difference when selling in a recession. Outsourcing sales can also be especially useful if your sales force has been impacted by layoffs. While increasing headcount might not be part of the companies’ short-term plan, budgets can be used with outsourced firms to guarantee that pipeline is still generated, despite a reduced team.
Increasing your outbound sales activities is of particular importance when accelerating growth during an economic downturn, allowing you to target your ideal customers who may not know about your business, build brand awareness and pitch your product/service in a way that appeals to specific pain points.
Expect a decline in customer confidence
Selling in a recession comes with new objections, so your sales team must be prepared to prove the worth of your service.
As businesses become stricter with their budget, you will need to sell your product with a value-based approach – words and promises of success will likely not be good enough. Proven, factual and real success stories will help you stand out from competitors, particularly if you have a variety to choose from. In fact, 92% of B2B buyers said they were more likely to make a purchase after reading a trusted review about it.
Utilise case studies, video testimonials and reviews from existing customers on platforms such as G2, Clutch, Capterra, etc. to do so, picking out key statistics for your sales team to use when selling to prospective customers.
Invest in training
While you may be making budget cuts yourself, investing in training will ensure your team can hone their skills and understand how to make the most out of every opportunity. Encourage your sales reps to undergo training courses and look at resources such as podcasts, videos, articles, etc, particularly those that revolve around selling in a recession.
After all, there will be new objections to overcome, tools to use and negotiation tactics to pick up. As mentioned previously, you cannot expect the same results by using old methods – your sales team must evolve with the times. Training and development is one area that should not be overlooked.
Don’t forget about retention and expansion
As important as it is to double down on prospecting and pitching to new customers, you can’t forget about retention and expansion.
Many business leaders and sales teams are, understandably, under the impression that customer expansion is unlikely during a recession. However, loyal customers are already aware of the benefits your service can bring, therefore making them more likely to invest.
Encourage your team to look for up-sell opportunities, and ensure to improve communication with customers to keep them onboard for as long as possible. Iron out issues as quickly as possible and keep relationships positive.
Don’t overlook the importance of this, either – research shows that just a 5% increase in customer retention can bring in 25 – 95% more in profits. Selling in a recession shouldn’t just be about finding as many new customers as possible, but also looking for any opportunities for growth within current contracts.
If you need assistance with selling in a recession, Operatix can help. Our team of outsourced sales development representatives specialise in accelerating revenue and growing pipeline for software vendors across the globe. Get in touch to find out how our expert team can help you.