For the first time since 2020, many organizations are having serious conversations about economic uncertainty. At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember sharing a slide with my team that read, “Winter is coming.” While I’m not a Game of Thrones fan, I do believe that, in times of economic uncertainty, it’s important for organizations to hunker down and prioritize building efficiency.
There are always ups and downs in business. When times are good – as they’ve been for most of the past ten years – an average salesperson can do very well because customers buy new products and invest in new initiatives. However, in a macro environment of scarcity, where every dollar is scrutinized, your sellers’ sales skills need to evolve.
As sales reps adapt to selling in an uncertain environment, training and coaching play a significant role. In this post, I’ll share how your organization can use sales training and coaching to become more efficient today and emerge stronger tomorrow.
Why sales training and coaching matter
In a world where there are external uncertainties, you need to first create certainty internally. In an economic downturn, most organizations will limit hiring. Instead of pursuing hypergrowth, organizations begin to pursue efficiency with their existing resources. For example, organizations that invest in their existing employees – whether through promotions or opportunities for learning and growth – will build confidence among their staff.
The way that sellers sell will also change in times of uncertainty. There’s a greater need for emotional intelligence, navigating new objections, and adopting new go-to-market messaging. Each of these skills requires training and coaching in order to be effective.
Reevaluate your value proposition for the current climate
Your customers are facing the same economic climate as your organization – at the same time. As their budgets tighten, your product’s value to their organization will also change. For example, in a bullish market, your value proposition may be that your product helps businesses grow quickly. However, in times of economic uncertainty, your product may be valued for its total cost of ownership (TCO) and efficiency.
Making these adjustments to your messaging allows your sales organization to empathize with your customers, justify your product, and strengthen your business relationships. Ongoing sales coaching ensures that your reps are aware of these changes so that your team can go to market with the same unified message. And, by coaching your reps to properly use this new messaging, your organization will ensure that everyone is delivering up-to-date and consistent communication to buyers.
Make sales training and coaching more efficient
In order to become more efficient, most sales organizations will also need to reevaluate how they deliver training and coaching. What appears to be small tasks add up over time, particularly when scaled across an organization. For example, requiring a 3-hour training session may not be the best use of time for the 2,000 sellers who make up your salesforce. Instead, a 10-minute lesson between calls can easily fit into a seller’s busy day, while ensuring they can learn on the fly.
It’s also important to consider when training is deployed. Not everyone needs training or coaching on the same subjects at the same time. Instead of blocking 1-3 hours for training each week, reps can become more efficient with just-in-time training. For example, if one of our reps is selling to a customer who is interested in Enablement Intelligence, it’s more efficient for them to take a lesson on Enablement Intelligence after a discovery call so that they’re ready to navigate this particular deal cycle. This just-in-time knowledge can be reinforced over time or prioritized in individual coaching sessions.
Navigating a tough landscape
In a macro environment of scarcity, the skills your sellers need to sell effectively will change. When budgets are scrutinized, customers need a solid emotional and rational justification for investing in your product or service. Investing in growth and learning opportunities will ensure that your reps are prepared to meet the moment.
In times of economic uncertainty, it’s easy to think “Winter is Coming” – but it doesn’t need to be “The Long Night.” Some organizations will undoubtedly experience a tailwind in this period of uncertainty. For others, it will be important to control what’s actually controllable. By making a commitment to building efficiencies today, your organization can come out stronger in the long term.
If you’d like to learn more about how your organization can navigate uncertainty, please check out our resource page, Adapting to Change.