According to economists, a recession is likely around the corner, and sales teams are bracing for impact. Deutsche Bank was the first financial institution to call for a recession this past April, and others could follow over the second half of 2022. But signs in the market have been percolating for a while. In fact, not since the 1970s has the U.S. encountered so many destabilizing factors occurring at once. The U.S. is experiencing a prolonged recovery from the pandemic’s economic stall-out while China and other countries face supply chain issues in continued COVID-19 disruption. The U.S. underwent a dramatic regime change in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, a war in Ukraine broke out and persists at the present time. All these things add up to an economic downturn slated to land officially in 2023.
Although sales managers don’t necessarily look forward to economic downturns, the smart ones stay prepared for them even in prosperous times. Economic cycles happen naturally like weather patterns, and the best way to persevere through them is to continually work on the things that bring stability to the revenue-generating arm of the company. We’re in a unique time in history in that we actually have more time to prepare for the expected recession than in prior years. Inflation is high, but the labor market is still strong. The average U.S. spender still has some savings to work with, so while the budgets are tightening up, companies can still grow and strategically position themselves. The work sales managers do now will determine how the next U.S. economic recession pans out for their team and their organization.
Two critical areas should always top the sales manager’s priority list. (1) Talent strategy and (2) sales process.
1. Talent Strategy
Sales managers should never take their eyes off the talent strategy, especially as a recession approaches. The talent strategy includes everything from recruiting to hiring and onboarding, role assignments, training, and career development. Sales managers can bolster the strength of their team by building into it intentionally and vigorously. According to a McKinsey survey, top talent is eight times more productive than average talent. In fact, the gap rises with a job’s complexity up to 800 percent in highly complex occupations. Economic conditions are going to get worse. That means now is the time to implement a talent strategy if there isn’t one already in place.
TaskHuman offers coaching support to help Sales leaders shape up their talent strategy in time-sensitive circumstances. A multi-pronged approach could include sales leadership coaching and 1:1 coaching sessions for sales producers to accelerate development on both sides of the ladder as well as to solidify a systematic and repeatable talent strategy. Sales managers can get the tools and curriculum they need to implement a system for improving the team’s performance capacity rather than starting from scratch. The sales leadership coaches available through TaskHuman’s coaching platform can provide these resources and walk sales managers through implementing them. Sales managers can also rest easily knowing their systems have been used to grow and nurture successful sales teams in prior recession years. Why reinvent the wheel when there are proven playbooks available?
2. Sales Process
A sales process is always key to winning more business. In a down economy, it’s essential. A well-defined sales process can increase closing rate by 50%. It includes a common language shared by salespeople and deep knowledge about how the solutions they offer work in their prospect’s business. Generalist salespeople can fare okay in a good market, but data shows sales specialists sell more. In a recession landscape, salespeople that niche down will survive and thrive. It’s especially true in the B2B market because these prospects still have revenue goals to hit on constrained budgets. They will buy from the providers that demonstrate without a doubt their ability to solve a specific problem they have. Salespeople specializing in the specific industry niche will be able to speak effectively to the problem at hand and propose a smart solution that makes financial sense to the prospect.
TaskHuman’s sales coaching services can help sales teams double down on their sales process before the greatest impact of the upcoming bear market hits. Sales coaches can help producers keep their focus on the behaviors that drive new business, such as selling time, call plans, and prospecting. Sales coaches are available on-demand through TaskHuman’s mobile platform and producers can schedule sessions around their peak selling hours. Having a highly experienced and seasoned sales coach to personally walk them through the past will be a valuable asset as economic conditions evolve and challenges change. Sales coaches can help bring perspective to the producer and offer a listening ear as the sales methodology becomes more difficult to carry out.
Increase consistency in uncertain economic times with these two key components of a winning sales strategy. They’ll carry sales teams through tough selling climates to come. Recessions, as challenging as they can be, can actually sharpen sales teams and sales leaders, and make them better through adversity. Sales Coaching through TaskHuman’s coaching platform can transform impending doom into opportunity for sales teams to pull ahead of their competition and establish dominance in their market, whether it is bear or not.
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