Improving sales during economic downturns

Sales teams are comprised of people with different abilities and needs. Some people are more driven and filled with charisma. They tend to meet and exceed the expectations set for them. These people have a natural gift to drive revenue.

Other salespeople have potential but need a guiding hand to fulfill their goals. Whatever kind of salespeople you have on your team, they all need motivation. A slowing economy can make motivation more critical. In a downturn, the spirits in any sales team tend to be low.

Since salespeople are different, what motivates them will also vary. Thus, sales managers have the uphill task of knowing how to motivate each person. Keep reading to discover strategies that can help in keeping your sales team motivated. 

How Challenging Times Can Affect Sales

A recession refers to a significant reduction in economic activity that lasts longer than a few months and spreads throughout the economy. That is the official definition by the National Bureau of Economic Research. A recession affects the individual, business, and national economy.

Keeping your sales team motivated during volatile times like these may prove challenging. Your team members may be anxious and in despair because of the economic situation. You’ll have to cast your despair aside; only then can you create a strategy to motivate your team during the challenging period.

During economic downturns, motivating your sales team will be even more necessary. Before you come up with a strategy, you must first understand how a recession affects sales. So, here’s a breakdown of the impact of an economic downturn on sales. 

Decline in Profits

During a recession, consumers and businesses alike become more careful in their spending. The uncertainty associated with a recession is what leads to wariness in spending. The result? It may be challenging to generate the normal kind of sales that you usually get. 

A reduction in sales will mean less revenue generation and a decline in profits. Businesses will have to reduce overhead costs to match the drop in profits.

Issues With Credit

Like consumers and businesses, lenders also become cautious with spending during a recession. Most businesses rely on loans to finance and run their operations. When lenders start cutting back, businesses will find it hard to access the credit they need.

Lenders use two methods to reduce the number of loans provided to consumers. One is increasing interest rates which also curbs inflation. The other one is coming up with stricter lending requirements.

Cash Flow Problems

When there’s a recession, clients find paying the money they owe on time challenging. Thus, after a sale, you may spend more money going after invoices. Late client payments will also lead to delayed supplier payments.

Companies that sell to other businesses face a greater risk. If the business collapses, outstanding bills may never get paid. These cash flow problems will affect how a business runs. 

Motivating Your Sales Team During an Economic Downturn

Central banks all over the globe are increasing interest rates to curb inflation. Given this and other trends, the global economy may be heading toward a worldwide recession in 2023. Some economies are heading toward financial crises that will have a lasting impact.

Thus, sales managers must learn how to keep teams motivated even during difficult times. Below are some ideas to help you do exactly that.

Create Trust With Your Sales Team

The basis of employee motivation is trust. Consider a sales team that doesn’t trust that you want the best for them. It’ll be pretty challenging to motivate them. Keeping up sales during an economic downturn requires you to inspire your team to work.

You can’t inspire them until you talk about obstacles and goals with your team. Such a conversation can’t occur without trust. To foster trust, engage with your team consistently, and be transparent. Also, nurture their talents to help them achieve their career dreams.

Understand What Drives Your Team

Motivating your team is impossible if you don’t understand what drives them. So, begin by asking your team what each one wishes to achieve. The answers you receive will help you understand the things that motivate them.

Making sales during an economic downturn requires you to use every tool at your disposal. So, don’t shy away from asking questions about what drives your team. To answer, your team will have to self-reflect. This will have a positive effect on motivation.

Ensure Employees Can Find Meaning in Their Work

People who feel like their work has meaning are more dedicated and motivated. So, how do you help your sales team find meaning in their work? The business values and mission don’t mean a lot on their own. You must help your team understand its role in achieving the company’s mission and enhancing its values.

Your sales team may view their duty as bringing in clients and boosting company revenue. To find meaning, salespeople must go beyond that view. They must understand how the product they sell impacts buyers and communities. 

You can gather stories about how your product or service improved customers’ lives. Share them with others to help them find meaning in their work.

Set Goals 

Keeping your sales team motivated requires you to develop goals and a sales strategy plan. In doing so, your team will know what they’re working towards. You can create daily, weekly, or monthly goals. 

Daily goals are short-term, and the incentive for achieving them should be fun and simple. Weekly goals have more weight since they specifically impact the organization. You can come up with performance metrics for such goals. Also, offer a more tangible reward that will encourage great results. 

It’s best to offer high-value rewards when a salesperson meets a monthly goal. The reward can be cash or something physical. Physical rewards may have a greater effect. When a salesperson looks at it, they’ll remember how they earned the reward. Thus they’ll get motivated to work harder.

Offer Different Incentives

As previously mentioned, people get motivated in different ways. A particular sales incentive will work for one person but not for another. However, some incentives usually work for a large number of people. The point is to balance out different motivational tactics among salespeople. 

Keep in mind that not everything will work for every person. Over the years, companies have tested different motivational tactics. Of them all, one thing always seems to work. Offer a variety of incentives and let people choose a suitable one for themselves. 

Using this tactic makes maintaining sales quotas and increasing sales possible. Ensure that the different incentives are in line with your budget. 

Encourage Competition

True hunters love to compete, which is why one of the key characteristics we always look for is their love for competition. 

In fact, through our DriveTest Sales Personality Assessment, we always want to see a very high score to help companies select the best salespeople.  

As Dr. Chris Croner points out in this video, research has shown that salespeople in a highly competitive company climate consistently set higher goals, whereas salespeople who were in lower competition environments consistently set lower goals. 

Recognize Accomplishments

Employees feel motivated when their boss recognizes their wins. Recognizing a win also changes how someone thinks of challenges. Your team will start to view obstacles as things that they can overcome. 

Recognizing wins doesn’t mean that you have to throw a party for every accomplishment. Instead, you can offer written or verbal praise. You can hold celebrations for wins that the team accomplishes together.

If the team has had an accomplishment as one, offer public praise. Doing so boosts morale and is key to keeping your sales team motivated.

Help Salespeople Focus More on Wins

In the world of sales, there are many obstacles and rejections. These tend to happen more than the wins. These setbacks happen more often during challenging times, such as a recession.

It’s very easy for your sales team to focus on the challenges. However, doing so will have a negative impact on getting sales during an economic downturn. You can encourage your team to focus more on the wins rather than the setbacks.

Ask your team to record their wins and send them to you in a message. That includes the little wins and big wins. You can then choose one of the things on the list and craft a winning message and acknowledge the achievement at your next sales meeting. You can also use the win as an opportunity to help those salespeople who are not succeeding as much learn and grow.

Ensure Salespeople Feel Valued

Motivating salespeople is key to increasing sales during economic downturns, such as a recession or even a depression. As you already know, people want to feel like their work has meaning. In addition, they need to know that their boss values the effort they put in. Both these things are essential in keeping your sales team motivated.

An excellent way to make your team feel valued is to offer praise when they do something well. Also, provide reasons why their efforts matter to the company.

There are many more ways to make salespeople feel valued. For example, provide them with opportunities to enhance their skills through training. Every team member can benefit from training, even a high-drive salesperson.

Nurture Career Development

People in your sales team might have a dream to progress in their careers. To motivate them, ensure you link their daily activities to their future careers. Their daily tasks should help them develop skills that benefit their long-term career goals.

You’ll attract good salespeople to the organization when you encourage career development. Sales managers can also help salespeople outline their career goals. With a clear goal in sight, a salesperson will have the motivation to work to reach it.

One thing to note in keeping your sales team motivated through career development, not everyone wants more. So, know who wants to progress before offering help.

Encourage Innovation

Innovation is vital to the growth of any business. Through their jobs, salespeople may have identified a market gap and a solution for it. Such an idea can help increase sales only if it’s nurtured.

So, allow your sales team to be creative and develop ideas. These ideas may be the key to enhancing business growth. Offer your team the freedom and space to be innovative. However, maintain oversight to keep them from wasting company resources. 

Ensure you reward salespeople for coming up with new ideas. If you implement the idea, offer an even bigger reward to the innovative employee.

Wrap Up

If and when the world faces an economic downturn, such as a recession, businesses must prepare to weather the storm. Remember that your salespeople are also concerned about what a recession means for them and their jobs.

This may result in a lack of motivation, causing a drop in revenue. So, focus on keeping your sales team motivated even as you brace for economic uncertainty.