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As tumultuous as the past couple of years have been for the economy, it is no surprise that organizations are worried about an impending recession. In fact, according to Fortune, a majority of economists believe a recession is likely to occur in 2023. For your sales team, this means closing deals is going to become more challenging. With an economic downturn on the horizon, how can your sales reps adapt to become a recession-proof sales team?

A recession does not mean you have to panic. There are plenty of ways to rethink your sales processes to adjust to these difficult times. So don’t be discouraged! There are strategies your organization can utilize to create a recession-proof sales team, better serve your buyers, and drive sales — despite the economic downturn. To help you make sense of it all, we’re offering up three strategies to ensure your sales team will not only survive, but thrive during the upcoming recession.

1. Prioritize Your Current Customers and Focus on Upselling

To build a recession-proof sales team and drive revenue, customer retention should be a top priority. In fact, making it a priority to upsell to your current customers is more lucrative than focusing all of your efforts on converting new leads. According to Bain and Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can bring in 25% to 95% more in profits.

By upselling and cross-selling, sales reps are able to increase a customer’s lifetime value. Take a look at this example. A tech start-up might task a subset of their sales team to upsell customers who are on a basic subscription of their software by offering a more advanced subscription that provides them with more capabilities and 24/7 support. Meanwhile, other sales reps at that same start-up are busy cross-selling to more advanced customers offering an opportunity to purchase another complementary product that will enhance their internal infrastructure.

Using these strategies in conjunction during a recession is an innovative way to increase profits without a dire need for new lead generation. With sales reps having a 60-70% chance of selling to existing customers compared to a 5-20% chance of selling to new customers, cross-selling and upselling are wise sales practices to engage in during an economic downturn.

2. Overcome Buyer Objections with a Sales Playbook

It’s no secret that the impending recession will increase the likelihood of sellers experiencing buyer objections they might not have ever faced before. Being able to effectively navigate through the sales dialogue to overcome these objections is essential to closing deals. With 60% of buyers already saying no four times before saying yes, an economic downturn may cause buyers to become even more critical and objective during sales interactions. Luckily, there’s a solution to help your sales team overcome buyer objections — a sales playbook.

Staff member reviewing data on a tablet

While sales playbooks detail how sales reps should position a product and discuss how it may solve various use cases, sales playbooks can also provide salespeople with tips and strategies to better handle buying objections. Plus, these sales playbooks can be personalized to buyer objections your sales reps hear often. A sales playbook will outline each objection one by one, providing sales reps with talking points and tips on how to overcome these scenarios and close the deal.

For example, a sales playbook can prepare sales reps for objections based on cost, the buyer’s budget, or the priority of the purchase. Say a sales rep is facing a competitor, and needs to set themselves apart to win over the buyer. With a sales playbook, this exact scenario is walked through, providing the rep with talking points that elicit fear, uncertainty, and doubt about a competitor while clearly demonstrating how your company wins over the competition.

With the possibility of an economic downturn, these objections will become even more common than before. With a sales playbook, a recession-proof sales team is prepared to field these hard questions and overcome buyer objections with ease. In fact, organizations with well-defined sales processes are 33% more likely to have high-performing sellers.

3. Align Sales and Marketing to Increase Deal Flow

According to LinkedIn, 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between both departments enables vital business growth. Essentially, sales and marketing alignment is the key to garnering a surplus of high-quality leads on a continual basis to increase deal flow. With sales enablement software, such as Seismic, Outreach, or Highspot, the marketing team is able to gain visibility into the sales pipeline. Thus, they have full and complete access to insights and data on sales content performance.

Working towards a solution

Sales enablement software provides users with insights and performance analytics, allowing for enhanced visibility into the entire sales process. This is essential for both teams to make data-driven decisions about which content and strategies work best to attract new leads and convert them to customers. Marketing can leverage these insights to focus on creating content that converts buyers into qualified leads and propel them through the purchase journey.

For example, say the data shows the buyer’s journey progresses at a faster rate if buyers are shown customer testimonials that establish the credibility of your product. However, a buyer hesitates to move toward making a purchase when they are shown a one-pager that lacks data and social proof points. With insights into content performance, marketing is able to tailor content for every stage of the buyer’s journey, enabling sales to provide the right content at the right time to each buyer. Based on these insights, marketing can unveil:

  • A product feature that is most impactful to focus on in sales interactions 
  • Which types of content is most useful to then convey these points
  • When in the buyer’s journey it’s best to share these types of content

To learn more about sales and marketing alignment, check out this recording of our webinar, Sales & Marketing: How to Maximize Revenue by Aligning Around Shared Goals.

Final Thoughts

Organizations need to rethink their sales processes and strategies to better navigate the muddy waters of a recession. By aligning sales and marketing, prioritizing upselling to current customers, and utilizing a sales playbook to overcome buyer objections, any sales team can become a recession-proof sales team.

Get in touch with us to discover how SFE Partners can help turn your organization’s sales department into a recession-proof sales team!