How To Make Sure Your Sales Team Is Recession-Proof?
A B2B Recession-Proof Salesforce can keep any company afloat.
Is there a global recession looming? Although there is much speculation about the next global recession, most advanced economies are still not feeling the pain. However, every boom has its expiration date.
When the next recession comes and not whether it comes seems to be the right question.
Set aside for a moment the discussion about global risks outside the control of most B2B managers. Let’s focus on the specific steps that sales executives can take to make their sales team recession-proof.
What happens in B2B sales during a recession? Sales teams are stressed, demotivated and become clumsy. Companies put them under pressure to close as many deals as possible — sales costs increase without delivering.
Instead, during a recession, sales leaders should coach their teams more often and provide them with better software tools. Companies should invest in reducing customer attrition and should retain their most valuable salespeople.
Let’s discuss each idea in more detail.
Is the cost of sales an expense or investment during a recession? Nobody cares, keep yours under control.
This point might seem obvious, but one should not be surprised to find out, that with the intention of accelerating sales, executives bore a hole into their cash war-chest. Don’t do this. Take good care of your cash during a recession.
Similarly, keeping the cost of sales under control does not mean not investing in sales. Saving cash means focusing on those prospects or customers with better chances of succeeding.
Saving cash means focusing on those prospects or customers with better chances of succeeding.
If your Key Account Manager needs an average of 100 calls to close ten sales, find a way of closing those deals with half the effort. Prioritise on the prospects and customers with higher probabilities of buying now. Invest the precious time of your salespeople on researching and closing those deals.
Predictive Sales Analytics plays here a fundamental role. Using ERP and CRM data, predictive sales software can, for example, find customers with cross-selling potential or high attrition risk. Use it to support the concerted efforts of your salesforce during a recession.
Coach your sales team more often.
During a recession, the pressure will stretch your sales team to its limits. Reaching sales goals become day-dreaming, and customers are not as friendly as usual.
Teach your sales team resilience. If you were around during any of the last recessions, you know this one cannot last forever. Teach to learn from the rejections and to respect their customers’ priorities.
Coach them on collaborative persistence. Collaborative persistence means not giving up on one’s sales goals while helping customers to reach their own objectives.
Furthermore, help your Key Account Managers to focus on the sales opportunities, accounts and projects that are critical to sail the current recession. Prioritisation on the customers at risk of churning, the (few) new sales opportunities with higher chances of closing and setting the right prices becomes essential during rough times.
Give your salespeople the right tools.
During tough times, having the right software tools makes a huge difference. Unfortunately, many sales leaders misunderstand this last premise and put a heavier load into the shoulders of overworked sales representatives.
Using the right software tool does not mean increasing the number of CRM sales reports that your KAM needs to fulfil. It means making the existing software intelligent and proactive. In many cases, it means less CRM.
Giving your salespeople the right tools also means making your existing software intelligent.
How do you make a sales team more successful with less CRM? By prioritising and streamlining sales workflows and by getting rid of unnecessary bureaucracy. Predictive Sales Analytics play a critical role in making CRM intelligent.
Invest in customer retention activities.
A recession is a right time to take customer attrition seriously. Companies living to rosy growth phases tend to ignore the fact that a proportion of their current customers will churn. During a recession, sales executives should employ a churn risk software to predict and retain customer at risk of churning.
Customer churn and attrition will logically increase during a recession. It might be a possible indicator of trouble on your customers, more aggressive competitors, or cost-cutting initiatives.
Define and reduce your customer churn. Measuring customer churn or attrition is the first step in pursuing an effective retention strategy. Make sure your definition contemplates voluntary and involuntary churn.
Once you have defined and measure customer attrition, adopt appropriate retention approaches. By implementing a retention strategy, companies can better cope bearish times. Furthermore, they can outlive a recession if they can quickly identify the customers at risk of defecting.
Keep your most valuable salespeople.
Lastly, you should avoid losing your most experienced and valuable salespeople. Yes, layoffs might be painfully necessary for a company to survive, yet the business will never recover if it loses professional experience and knowledge about their customers.
Your most valuable salespeople will take away experience, knowledge about the customer and your products and services. The recession will be over, and your company will miss out on the expected rebound.
Sales and marketing teams usually take the brunt of cost-cutting activities during recessions. Avoid losing your best people at all costs, for they are the ones that will pull your nose out of the water once the downturn has passed.
How To Make Sure Your Sales Team Is Recession-Proof? Summary.
The effects of a recession are felt in B2B sales before it happens and will be felt long after it is gone.
During an economic slump, companies should reduce sales costs by prioritising accounts and prospects based on customer lifetime value, present buying-potential and risk of attrition. Predictive Analytics and Sales forecasting based using artificial intelligence are critical to performing this prioritisation and cost-reduction.
Sales managers should coach and support their sales teams more often, to help them sail the tough times, pressure and rejections. Moreover, management should also provide the appropriate predictive sales software to discover potential and reduce customer churn.
Lastly, companies should make sure they retain their most valuable salespeople, for though times shall pass, and their expertise will be needed again.