As any sales professional knows, achieving revenue goals is hard enough at the best of times, let alone in tough economic conditions. This is especially true as budgets get leaner and buying committees expand.
This makes it essential to have sales strategies to help you meet your revenue targets in a constantly changing market. We asked 17 experienced sales leaders how they hit their targets when times get tough. Find their tips and advice below.
Are you a sales leader looking to support your BDRs and AEs by accelerating pipeline generation with UserGems? Learn more here.
17 expert sales tips for selling in uncertain times
After talking to 17 different sales leaders about what they do to meet their revenue goals in a fluctuating market, we have a ton of great advice to share.
Our expert tips can be broken down into five common themes:
- Having a positive perspective
- Strengthening your prospecting process
- Having a consistent pipeline generation strategy
- Playing the long game
- Showcasing your product’s value
- Align your sales and marketing team
But, as you already know, actions speak louder than words. Read on to learn how to execute these tactics with real examples.
1. Have a positive perspective
Selling in uncertain times isn’t a cakewalk. But focusing on the negative aspects of it will only weaken your mental performance, leading to burnout — and leaving you to ask yourself why you chose a career in sales to begin with 😅.
Brian LaManna, Senior Mid-Market Account Executive at Gong, says that “Flipping your perspective from ‘wow, this really sucks, it's hard to sell’ to ‘this is a really unique opportunity for me to improve as a seller and hone my craft’ positions you to succeed in economic uncertainty.”
He explains, “During easy times, you can get away with running a far but perfect sales cycle and still get something across the line. In more challenging times, every part of your process is pressure-tested from start to close.” This presents new opportunities to strengthen your sales approach and spot areas for sales training.
He adds, “Set a goal every Monday morning to get better at one skill and lean into the opportunity to up your game. If you can find success selling during difficult times, you'll knock it out of the park when things get easier.”
2. Strengthen your prospecting process
How you prospect determines the quality of leads in your sales pipeline. In the era of doing more with less, you want to avoid wasting your resources on generating poor leads.
“It's all about the integrity and quality of your prospecting,” says Zoya Segelbacher, Sales Enablement Manager at Gong.
“In the past, it was possible that you could cast a wide and vague net and still get some traction and qualified buyers,” she explains. “But in uncertain times, you want to get clear on your ideal customer profile and the most qualified personas.
“Not just for your customers/prospects but for the health of your own pipeline. You want to have focus and intention with messaging that speaks directly to who they are and the challenges they have. Otherwise, you risk wasting your own time and efforts.”
And if you need ideas for improving your prospecting process, Matt Green, Chief Revenue Officer of Sales Assembly, says, “If you want to separate yourself from the noise (which every seller does right now), find a way to meet your prospects in person.”
While Ross Rich, CEO and co-founder of Accord, adds, “Get higher in the organization. C-level or bust.”
The idea is to find the key contacts involved in decision-making at your target account and connect with them. You can address their concerns and move them down the sales funnel faster.
3. Have a consistent pipeline generation strategy
If you have a pipeline generation strategy that works, there’s no need to break it.
“Remain consistent in your pipeline generation, no matter the circumstances,” says Jacob Karp, Strategic Enterprise Sales at Rubrik.
“Double down on accounts with the highest propensity to buy, whether existing or net new. Spend your time where you can provide the best outcomes for your prospects, customers, and yourself.”
Leslie Venetz, Founder of Sales Team Builder, reiterates the need to be consistent by advising sales representatives to “Adhere strictly to the processes that get results and focus on executing those foundational techniques with skill [and] consistency.”
“During uncertain times, it's easy for reps to let fear & frustration creep in,” she explains. “When fear creeps in, the result is ‘just checking in emails’ and commission breath on sales calls. When you are afraid of every no, it's impossible to run a great sales process.
“When frustration creeps in, I see reps skip steps or shortcut their processes.”
Leslie continues, “This type of behavior becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When reps step away from robust processes, they also step away from predictable revenue flow. Tough selling environments make reps vulnerable to fear [and] frustration, but the best thing they can do is stick to proven processes.”
4. Play the long game
An unpredictable market presents tough times for sellers, but it’s also challenging for your prospects trying to ensure their business stays afloat.
“Build real relationships and lean into communities,” Ashley Coghill, Account Executive at Lavender, advises. “If it's uncertain times for you, it's probably uncertain times for your prospects too. Find out what they actually care about.”
Kyle Asay, VP of High Tech Acquisition at MongoDB, agrees. “It's not just uncertain times for sellers but also for buyers! Bad purchases hurt more than before. Be sure to put yourself in your buyer's shoes as you help them evaluate your solution to help them feel confident in betting on you.”
Joey Alvandi, Account Executive at Tourial, adds, “When times are tough (like now), you will talk to a lot of people who are interested and see the value in your solution but truly aren't in a position to buy right now.”
“As a seller, it can be tempting to push aggressively to impose your timeline on the prospect, BUT it is not the way to go,” says Joey. “In my experience, if you continue to nurture the relationship, you'll still win the deal when the timing is right for both sides.”
He notes, “People remember the sales experience regardless of whether they have the budget at the time. Don't burn a bridge trying so hard to close someone at the wrong time. Play the long game.”
5. Showcase your product’s value
With slim budgets, buyers are more skeptical about purchasing a product if they can’t project its true value to their team and business. Colin Specter, VP of Sales at Orum, notes that this means “You must be 100% certain, especially in uncertain’ times, about the value you bring and services you represent.”
Here are some tips for value-added selling:
- Sell a solution
“Focus less on trying to sell a product or service and more on selling a solution,” says Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumentl.
He explains, “When you're selling something, you're trying to convince someone that they need something. When you're selling a solution, however, the focus is on what they need vs. what they've already got.
“This approach lets me ask questions like: ‘What are you struggling with right now?’ or ‘What's not working for you?’
“This helps me get an idea of where they are now so I can put together a plan that addresses their needs while also meeting my company's goals.”
- Create trust
Gabi Sayah, Business Development Manager at Deeto, recommends showing your product’s value by creating trust.
“The best way to create trust is by leveraging the voice of your customers — references, referrals, case studies, reviews, etc.” You can automate this with Deeto, an AI-driven platform that helps you use customer references to close more deals.
- Be helpful
“Think about something that your customer may be struggling with and just help them out,” says Hannah Ajikawo, CEO and Founder of Revenue Funnel.
“Lend a helping hand with no motive and just see how opportunities begin to surface.”
- Find their true pain point
“Listen and go deep — in uncertain times, the true pain point of a company is much deeper,” says Daisy Chung, Sales Director of Orum.
“We have to ask multiple questions, ask the same question in different ways, and repeat back to the prospect to see if we can get an ‘Aha moment’. Only then can we connect the pain to the solution you're selling!”
- Validate the problem
Nate Nasralla, Co-founder of Fluint, says, “Slow down the deal in the early stages to go deep into validating and quantifying the problem with a wider group of contacts. Then, roll their input and language into a concise [executive] summary that sets the framing and start of the business case you’ll use to close.”
- Multithread your deals with champions
Multithreading is an underrated strategy for closing deals faster. And in times of uncertainty, having an advocate can help you shorten sales cycles.
As Mark Kosoglow, Chief Revenue Officer of Catalyst, says, "He/She who makes the deal, gets the deal. Get creative and make sure you partner with your customer to create win/win situations that make it easy for your buyer to buy.”
6. Align your sales and marketing team
To achieve efficient growth in an uncertain market, it’s critical for organizations to have sales and marketing alignment instead of working in silos. This allows you to leverage your best resources and get better results
“When selling in uncertain times, it really comes down to agility and empathy. We need to adapt on the fly, tune into market trends, and adjust our strategies accordingly,” says Roy Itzhaki, Founder of BizDev Labs.
He explains, “It's crucial to rethink the sales process. One-off emails won't seal the deal these days. We need a multi-step approach that nurtures customers, builds trust, and addresses their unique challenges.”
“Breaking down silos within the organization is key,” Roy adds. “When sales, marketing, CSM, and product teams work hand-in-hand, we can leverage insights and align strategies, leading to a tailored experience for our customers.”
Meeting your revenue goals when selling in uncertain times
Even in tough economic conditions, your organization likely wants to achieve or maintain profitability. So as a sales manager or rep, having a few principles to guide your sales approach can put you in a better position to succeed.
- Reframing your perspective of the situation as an opportunity to strengthen your sales skills
- Improving your prospecting process
- Having a consistent pipeline generation strategy
- Leaning into building relationships with your buyers
- Leveraging a value-added selling approach
- Ensuring your revenue team is aligned
UserGems is pipeline generation software that helps revenue teams generate and protect revenue efficiently. With UserGems, companies can track and automate outreach when their champions change their jobs and capture the buying groups to find the warmest path into every account.
Companies like Mimecast, Greenhouse, and Medallia use UserGems to reach their revenue goals quickly and efficiently.