It’s time for businesses to rethink sales

The Bank of England has projected that the UK will next see its economy grow during Q3 2024.

That’s a long wait. But does it mean that businesses should rush to fire their sales teams and hunker down to wait things out? Not in the slightest! Instead, it’s simply time to refocus.

Finding the opportunities

No economic downturn is without its opportunities. Yes, economists are projecting a rough ride ahead, with inflation marching doggedly towards double figures and the cost-of-living crisis deepening. It’s a tough outlook for business leaders, but that doesn’t mean the answer is radical, panic-induced change.

Instead, it’s time to shift to longer-term thinking and map out a strategy for coming out of the other side of the recession stronger. While rushed actions can quickly lead to a negative spiral, more considered thinking can actually lay the foundations for making the most of opportunities that arise in the short-term while also planning for solid future growth.

The fundamentals of selling

Regardless of how well, or otherwise, the economy is performing, the fundamentals of selling remain the same. It’s just the focus of the team that needs to shift. Targets and sales figures can be a great motivator when times are good. However, they can quickly become a negative distraction if those targets don’t keep pace with the economic realities of the wider world.

Instead of targets, it’s far better to focus on market share when operating in a difficult economic environment. Simon Blair, Founder and Group CEO of SHB Real Estate, reminds us that:

“Downturns are simply part of the cyclical nature of western economies. Part of the problem is that businesses get intimidated by them instead of seeing them as an opportunity to slow down, refocus and reassess.”

Repositioning the focus of the sales team onto market share is the ideal way to do this. Instead of the team feeling increasingly demotivated by being unable to hit pre-recession sales figures, they can pull together and work on something that will enable the business to come rocketing out of the other side of the recession.

Ongoing dialogue

Tougher economic times also call for greater communication with clients. After all, companies that maintain ongoing dialogue with their clients are unlikely to be caught out by sudden, unexpected shifts in requirements. This means it’s time to pick up the phone, check in on how your clients are doing and keep the conversation flowing.

It’s also time to for businesses to focus on how their sales teams are feeling and look at different ways to motivate them. Investing in a programme to upskill the team is an excellent way to show that the business is committed to the team’s long-term future. And again, it can pay dividends when the economy starts to flourish again and the business is primed and ready for success.

Lessons from the pandemic

What’s interesting about the current economic situation is that many business leaders are facing it with a certain degree of resilience that they built up during the pandemic. The past couple of years have been a lesson in determination, flexibility and dealing with uncertainty, to say the least. Now, it’s time to take those lessons forward and prepare to come out stronger on the other side of whatever may lay ahead.  

Paul Owen
Paul Owen

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