BY ULRIK MONBERG
Surviving Recession – The Moment of Truth for Commercial Excellence
We can’t turn a blind eye on what’s lurking ahead. Another recession is coming – it’s inevitable...at least if you believe what you read in the papers. Around the world, inflation is on the increase due to the post-pandemic demand and the war in Ukraine. And with energy and food prices hitting record highs many companies are struggling. Thus, the world of B2B sales is expecting even more competition and the willingness to spend money to drop to an all time low. As you fasten your seatbelt for the bumpy ride ahead, keep in mind that the well-prepared companies can actually leverage these turbulent times to gain market share. But how do you prepare for a recession?
Recession in Sight – Preparing Your Sales Team
As the CEO of a company working with sales professionals and account-based selling, I’ve experienced the challenges of inflation first hand. And as we continue to follow the market closely, we of course try to address potential future challenges before they turn into real headaches.
Recent research from Bain & Company shows that companies that prepare for a downturn in advance come out stronger than the competition. It also concludes that the most advantageous time to commence big changes that will strengthen a company during and after a recession is BEFORE it hits. Finally, the same research finds that the companies that came out winners after a recession pursued a variety of strategic initiatives prior to the downturn.
This means that the companies who act now (in a recession-proof manner) will have the upper hand over those that remain status quo. Below, I’ve listed my suggested priorities for preparing your sales teams for what’s coming and ensuring your sales orgs come out stronger on the other side.
1. Put your Commercial Excellence under the microscope
To effectively prepare for a potential recession, you need full visibility into your commercial excellence. There’s no getting around it. You have to know exactly where the money is coming from, where you are not profiting, and what your customers want. You should be digging into the metrics and familiarizing yourself with exactly how much time, money and resources you spend on a single deal. Then compare this to your average deal size or customer lifetime value to determine if a deal is actually worth your efforts. This is a great way to finetune your qualification process and let you know when to walk away from a deal – no profit, no deal!
Really, it’s the moment of truth for your company’s commercial excellence, and any Management team should be asking themselves if they’ve succeeded in preparing their salespeople properly, and if they truly understand the width and depth of their customer relationships. I highly recommend spending some time assessing the ins and outs of your commercial excellence: dissecting customer contracts and deals, delays, and really taking the time to understand how you create value for your customers.
2. Ramp up your sales tech stack
The journey towards digitalisation continues, especially in the account-based selling scene and for sales tools in general. In troubled times, it’s important to maintain the structural move towards digitalisation – even though it might feel like the wrong time to prioritize spending over saving money. Research from Bain & Company states that Sales organizations should focus on acquiring new digital tools as preparation for the next recession. Findings also conclude that the companies that came out on top were roughly four times more likely to have digital tools embedded into their core commercial capabilities.
How? Digital technologies are simplifying business processes with continuous improvements, outperforming the businesses that refuse to welcome tech into their ‘homes’. As we potentially head for the next recession, digital sales tools will allow for more cost-effective and customer-focused opportunities in our pursuit of growth.
One reason these tools can serve as a gateway for pulling out ahead of the competition is that they can help you share and leverage sales best practices across your organization. All sales teams have their top performers. Knowing what they do right and making these best practices available to the rest of the team is an absolute game changer.
The ability to automate your account planning is another reason why sales tools are essential to your business. Digital sales tools can help your sales professionals stay on top of stakeholders, opportunities, and next steps in each account by automating these processes directly in your preferred CRM. This provides you with a simple yet extremely powerful strategic account planning tool.
Bottom line, it’s the end of non-tech businesses. All manual work that can be automated should be automated. Time spent on non-selling activities should as much as possible be freed up for your sales team to focus more on activities that actually generate revenue.
In the face of economic hardship, so much will feel outside your control. That’s why it’s crucial to focus on the things you can actually influence. We need to understand how we ensure that our sales teams are fully armed to defend our key accounts. First and foremost, start preparing today. Very soon it will be too late. Commercial Excellence should be at the forefront, and make sure you have a solid tech stack – this determines if you make or break it when sh*t hits the fan! If you start preparing now, when the storm has passed, you might emerge even stronger than when you entered – just like Bain & Company concludes.
Is your sales team prepared to overcome the next recession? You’re very welcome to reach out – I’m happy to continue the conversation and discuss how ARPEDIO can play a part in your long term success.
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