The year 2020 has brought with it a hefty amount of economic pain — a pandemic-powered recession has wiped out a fair amount of the prosperity for a number of businesses, from mom-and-pops to large corporations. Despite the promise of a vaccine and the potential for more government assistance, businesses must not wait to seize control of their ability to transit the choppiest of uncharted waters and arrive at a safer port. Clearly, though, navigating economic uncertainty — particularly something caused by a once-in-a-century “black swan” event — takes more than just hopes, dreams, and intestinal fortitude.
According to research from the Harvard Business Review, companies who weathered downturns successfully (and even prospered) had three things in common. In this post, we’ll review those three factors, and dive into each of them to show you how to take action and effectively recession-proof your sales team and business.
1. Act Early
Companies who proactively recognized the threat ahead of the 2008 recession achieved six percentage points better Total Shareholder Return in the downturn than companies that did not address the challenge early.
It’s not too late to begin “building a moat” around your organization and safeguarding from future uncertainty. Many businesses experienced a rebound in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2008. By planning right now — being prepared for the ravages of a secondary downturn and viewing it as an opportunity — you will have the chance to put lasting distance between yourself and the competition.
2. Take a Long-Term Perspective
HBR found that companies with a longer-term perspective achieved 4 percentage points higher annual growth during the downturn as well as 2 percentage points higher total shareholder return.
The ultimate competitive advantage is your team’s selling skills. The truth is that sales enablement is not a once and done type of initiative. In order to improve your team’s selling skills – and keep them elevated on a consistent and long-term basis – you must intentionally plan and execute a sales enablement approach over time.
The key is to create a plan that aligns with your organization’s goals, then consistently reinforce both the goals and the plan.
3. Focus on Growth, Not Just Cost-Cutting
To prosper during economic uncertainty and gain a competitive advantage, your company must not only pursue efficiencies, but also focus on revenue growth.
If you’re being honest with yourself, the good sales results you’ve experienced in recent years may have been driven more by the uptick of the economy, and less by your sales team’s skills.
When the economy recedes, you cannot afford to have your sales team be anything less than excellent. They must make the most of their time by following a dedicated sales process, and they must have the skills necessary to consult with buyers, negotiate effectively, and close business even in a slowed economy.
The Bottom Line
Times of uncertainty can actually be a wonderful opportunity, for the prepared, to strengthen their long-term competitive advantage by “building a moat” around their sales organization.
As a key stakeholder in your organization, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your business is positioned as strong as possible for any sort of economic disruption. The first step of your preparation should be laying the foundation with exceptional selling skills.
The Virtual Selling with Impact Training Program will equip your sales team with a process to follow and the skills they need to outsell the competition when the stakes are high.
Are you ready?
A successful sales enablement strategy requires intentional planning and direction from the top levels of an organization. Map out your strategy using this comprehensive guide and set your sales effectiveness initiative up for success.