How to motivate and lead a sales team in an economic downturn

Even without considering the economic downturn we’re in, the role of a sales manager is a difficult one. There are roughly 25,000 of them working in tech in North America, who are responsible for hiring, training, coaching and leading their sales reps with the overall goal of crushing revenue targets, which is no easy feat. 

Add in the economic pressures we’re currently facing, and generating demand, closing deals, maintaining a healthy pipeline, and keeping up team morale all become that much more challenging. So, how do you lead your sales team through a downturn while keeping motivation high?

Our Chief Executive Officer, Asad Zaman, hosted three expert leaders who have successfully motivated and led sales teams in this environment: Laura Guerra (VP of Growth at Pavilion) Neil Weitzman (CEO/Founder of RevOpsX Advisory) and Butch Langlois (Former President of Vend). By watching this session, you will learn how to strategically brave through this market and lead your teams to success.


Key Takeaways:

Takeaway 1: Go back to basics and review every step of your go-to-market strategy: reassess your target audience, your value proposition, and your messaging, then adjust as necessary. For example, many sellers aren’t the best copywriters and could use guidance, so leaders should get in the trenches and provide coaching to help the overall message resonate. Tactical strategies like this can make a significant impact, even in the short term.

Takeaway 2: More than ever, being disciplined on how you’re qualifying deals is key. There will be a lot more nice-to-have conversations in this environment, but people may go through the motions without an intention to buy. So, be disciplined about what the qualification process looks like for new deals and know when to move on and not waste each other’s time. 

Takeaway 3: During a downturn, inbound leads and revenue are often both down, and sales reps can be penalized for these decreases because of missed quotas. If possible, this is a time to show leadership and protect your salespeople to make sure they’re being compensated fairly, especially if close rates remain the same. 

Takeaway 4: Clearly outline your expectations of the team, and if they’ve changed as a result of this environment, make sure they’re known. A helpful exercise to ensure your team is capable of meeting expectations is to have them write a list of what’s currently under their reps control. It can feel overwhelming and intimidating to sell in this challenging environment, but the people who know their expectations feel like they have more under their control. 

Takeaway 5: Your number one job as a sales leader is to make your people better, so coaching, role playing, and practicing with your team should be a focus to ensure everyone feels prepared in this environment. And, once you’ve hired your A players, trust them to do the job that you hired them to do. It isn’t always easy to trust someone to represent you and your company, but it can be a huge driver for your team’s success.