The threat of a recession, combined with rising interest rates and inflation, continues to loom high in the minds of employees and CEOs alike. Following plummeting stocks and sweeping layoffs, companies are nervous about where the economy is headed. Whether they’re slashing marketing budgets or investing in tech that will increase productivity (and thus profit) in the long term, more companies are trying to avoid cutting jobs; and it’s leaving leaders on the lookout for other ways to shore up against losses. For sales and revenue leaders, this adds to the pressure to hit the ground running with a strong start to the new fiscal year in 2023.
A recent Bain webinar calls out that some organizations far outpace others in terms of compound annual growth rate (CAGR) because they did the right things during a slowdown. We call these companies resilient. Revenue resilience is an important skill for sales and revenue leaders to master as the economy grows more challenging for sales teams. It requires leaders to identify threats to their revenue and opportunities to open new revenue streams in hostile selling environments to ensure that their revenue is stable.
There are two parts to enduring a period of revenue resilience: thriving and rebounding. It’s vital to ensure that sales teams have the skills to thrive during a period of revenue resilience and the skills to bounce back when enterprise spending goes back to normal.
Difficult Times Demand Versatility
Right now, sales teams are searching for ways to thrive during the difficult selling season. If you’re running from a predator, being the fastest helps – but you definitely don’t want to be the slowest. In other words, the first concern should be how to do well when everyone is struggling and this can be solved with the openness to be versatile with sales tactics.
Skills for thriving include:
- Implementing a sales methodology that mirrors the buying process.
- Establishing deal discipline and forecasting accurately.
- Building mutual action plans with buyers.
- Creating custom content based on buyer needs.
With the added uncertainty of a rocky economy, sales forecasting is harder than ever to do accurately, but also more important than ever. Enablement cannot be left out of the forecasting process. It helps teams identify pockets of inaccuracy and address the skill gaps that create pipeline leakage. To maximize revenue and drive growth, sales leaders are tasked with looking into their blind spots and changing sales methods. Adjusting to an individual buyers’ needs and processes to create action plans and custom content might be time consuming in the short term, but a worthy investment in the long run.
Rebounding on a High Note
The other set of skills for surviving a recession is to know when and how to bounce back, or in other words, to prepare for the end of the recessionary phase. After weeks or months of poor sales, there will eventually be an opportunity to rise as the economy recovers and companies start to spend more to ensure that they themselves have the tools they need to land on their feet. Ensuring that you accurately time the market to hit the ground running for a rejuvenated global economy allows for a faster comeback to get ahead of the competition.
Skills for bouncing back include:
- Hunting or creating your own pipeline of sales.
- Developing manager-led coaching based on themes related to concurrent training programs.
- Executing sales plays.
- Maximizing the value of reusable content.
The top skill for bouncing back from a period of revenue resilience – and for any good salesperson – is networking, which feeds into hunting leads and bringing opportunities to your team. The rest is making sure your team is set up to succeed with proper training and maximum efficiency. An easy way to do this is by preparing sales plans and creating content that can be effectively reused with little to no edits, so your team has the contingencies and the time to focus on more important tasks (like networking).
The skills sales leaders and their teams need to hone for a period of revenue resilience boil down to dedicating the time, effort, and grit to setting themselves up for success. At the end of the day, no single sales team can change what’s happening in the economy but, by focusing on these aspects of the sales process, they can better prepare themselves for tough times. It will be challenging, and will require setting different expectations, but sales leaders can take these steps to ensure their teams will come out the other side on the top and better than ever.