Act now to recession-proof your sales


Don’t wait until it happens, it might be too late.
Stock market falling
Image source: Getty Images

If it turns out to be true and a recession occurs, let’s not wait to be backed into a corner. Get your game plan ready, because you need to act now to recession-proof your sales.

  • A mindset game

I’m a firm believer that sales is a mindset game, if you think it’s going to be impossible, it will be. That doesn’t mean you should put your rose-coloured glasses on though. In Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great, he explains a concept he developed called Level 5 Leadership. Over a five-year research project, he discovered that the best leaders, among other traits, have the ability to confront the brutal facts, and at the same time never lose faith. Sales leaders and CEOs are going to need to adopt this type of leadership to put them in the best position.

A Gartner poll of 74 sales and business leaders found that 54% said meeting quotas or customer retention worried them the most about an economic downturn.

  • Upskilling

Upskilling your sales team should be a top priority right now. Setting them up for success by focussing on some of the activities I’ve highlighted below will put them a step ahead as this next chapter unfolds.

  • Pump up the pipeline

You’re going to need a bigger pipeline, and you can start working on that. Allow for deals that will be lost or budgets that will be no longer. Focus hard on lead generation and proactive prospecting to build a buffer. Take the number of prospects you currently need to hit your quota and double it.

  • Build your dream 100

Put down the scatter-gun and take a targeted approach to prospecting. Focus on prospects with the highest potential. A great way to do this is to build your Dream 100 – an idea shared by Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine. This process looks at where the majority of the spend is in the market and how to create a system turning up repeatedly adding value, staying front of mind to take a prospect from not knowing you, to thinking who is this company, to taking your meeting, to a buying customer.

  • Less is more

The latest research shows that it takes 15 touch-points before someone goes from, ‘I’ve never heard of you’ to, ‘I want to buy from you’ – you need to play the long-game here. In a recent LinkedIn’s APAC report, the research showed that top performers reach out less, but do their research every time. They take a personalised approach to reaching out to prospects and spend less time on unproductive and potentially damaging blind outreach.

  • Introduce the pre-mortem

So many of us analyse things after the fact, but what if we anticipated the risks of an opportunity? Look at what could go wrong – why would a prospect choose your competitor? What if they don’t have the budget or can’t get finance? Once you’ve identified the potential risks, work out what you can do to minimise them.

  • I just can’t decide

A recent study based on 2.5 million sales conversations, by Harvard Business Review, found that anywhere between 40% and 60% of deals end up lost to customers who express their intent to purchase, but ultimately fail to act. No longer is the biggest risk signing with the competition, it’s losing a sale because a customer wants to avoid making a decision that could lead to loss. Consider how you can mitigate perceived risk for prospects who are on the fence.

  • Double-down on well-being

Sales can at times feel brutal with rejections, quotas to hit and tough competition. When times are tough, it’s important to make well-being a priority. Sales people often thrive on the vibe and energy of the team, so sales leaders and CEOs need to invest in their people’s well-being and keep the mojo high.  

  • Use the tools

So that your sales team can maximise their proactive selling time, it’s important to leverage the tech and automation available. What can be streamlined, automated, or digitalised to make processes faster and everyone’s lives easier?

Recession or not, focussing on the above will make you a better salesperson. It’s time to refocus on delivering value to the people you serve. I truly believe mindset is everything in the sales game, so go into this looking for opportunity and opportunity will come knocking.

There’s a Tony Robbins quote I always come back to, that speaks to this perfectly, “If we have the courage to ignore the ‘prophets of doom’ the best opportunities come in times of maximum pessimism. If we focused on that advantage, we’d feel very differently, wouldn’t we.”

So, focus on the advantage and see what comes your way.

Abbie White is a leader in the field of high-performance sales and is founder of Sales Redefined.