Leading Sales Teams Through a Recession

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Nobody wants to use the “R” word, but whatever you call it, selling is tough right now. I’ve had the good fortune of speaking with dozens of leaders and managers about what they’re doing right now with their teams to protect their bases and keep building pipeline in case a recession does officially happen.

READ: Top Pipeline-Building and Recession Selling Tips

Here’s an idea I love that I hope you will steal when leading sales teams through a recession: 

Turn down lead qualification criteria immediately. 

As deals slow down, you’ll need more in the funnel to close the gap. If you’re using a standard BANT or MEDICC qualification criteria, work with the team to decide what is worth taking anyway. If your sales team isn’t busy creating proposals and demonstrating your solution, the simple answer is to get more leads. They could literally be sitting in the “reject” pile of your BDR/SDR or marketing team right now!

What should you accept? I’d start with budget. 

Many buyers aren’t spending as freely right now, so if your lead qualification criteria require a ready budget, you’re rejecting most buyers. 

I get it, you need leads ready and able to buy to close more deals, but if they’re not as available right now, are you willing to build future pipeline for when times change? 

Can you and your team work harder to convince buyers you’re worth assigning a budget? 

READ: Changing Sales Incentives During A Recession

Along these same lines, are you willing to build future pipeline for opportunities with longer timelines? 

If we’ve moved on the B (budget) and T (timeline), what about Authority and Need? Truth is, now more than ever you need to show this is something prospects need over want. So check the value props being touted by your lead generation team. Can you switch something that feels like a “nice to have” to something that seems more like a “Can’t live without it especially in today’s economy?”

For example, I sell training. Many times people come to us because they’re growing (nope, many in RIF mode now). Others find us because they know they need better onboarding and upskilling to attract and retain talent (nice to have, less important if not hiring). 

READ: Why You Need Special Recession Payment Terms

How about this one?

During today’s economic times, the sellers are separated from the order takers. You can’t afford NOT to make sure your team have the very sharpest skills to close more deals. Protect your revenue by teaching your team how to push deals through when there’s economic uncertainty. (BTW, click here to go directly to my head of Client Success and learn more about our training! 😉)

Finally, let’s talk about Authority or Champion. I think you’ve got to have it. Every deal in tough economies will be approved by your economic decision maker (e.g. CFO), and nothing is getting there without a champion explaining the urgent need for it right now.

Boom! BANT just became NC (Need and Champion).

Next step: go sit with the teams to help draft the right questions and gates for this. Just because you know what a good “need” looks like, doesn’t mean the person training your BDR team or writing the marketing copy can translate what you’re looking for into criteria and sales questions/marketing form fills.

Good luck out there!

READ: 5 Tips for Reps to Keep Selling During a Recession

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