The War Room

How to sell during a recession

Context: I started my sales career in July 2008, right before the Great Recession. While reps were being laid off left and right, I broke every sales record in 2009 and became the #1 seller out of thousands in company history. Here's what I did differently:


1. Psychology - Your buyers are nervous about keeping their jobs. They need to show their employers how valuable they are to the business. So in a counterintuitive way, people are open to buying more during a downturn than when economy is booming. Lean into that by adapting your pitch to highlight how companies / execs who are using your solution are doing better than the market average. It's all about survival of fittest now.

2. Tech is Cheaper Than People - Sad, but true. Position your solution as a way to save costs / replace lost labor productivity by automating work that a human might have to normally do. While companies will be cutting headcount, they still need to be productive. Highlight how your solution makes up for the labor shortage.

3. Revenue is the Golden Goose - Focus the ROI case of your product to revenue. This feels obvious, until you realize that 99% of cold emails I get don't explicitly and simply explain how buying this product = more money. It's all "shorten ramp time" or "save time" or "increase security" blah blah. Nobody cares during a recession. Cash is king. Lean into how you'll help prospects make more cash.

4. "Conservative" Language - There were a couple phrases I added to my sales track that landed really well in early 2009. The gist of which was: 
"While other companies have been hurting during this downturn, we've been breaking company records. It helps that our product helps you save money and be efficient, which nobody cares about during a boom, 'Growth at all costs!' mindset. But today, we can help you do more with less and deliver better than market results."


I'll try to post more of these later this weekend. But as sales leaders and reps come to terms with the new reality of our economic climate, the time to adopt and get first mover advantage is now. Sharpen your talk track. Change your tone. Reflect reality.

35 days ago, I told you we'd see layoffs in tech. The smart ones listened. Today, it's clear the cuts may come faster and deeper than even I thought. 

But we're in luck savages: we are responsible for generating revenue! That's the last function a company wants to cut, especially during a downturn.

Still that doesn't mean we won't get our asses canned if we don't put up results. I've been getting more and more DMs on LNKD from reps saying "I thought you were an idiot. Now I suddenly just got laid off." 

Hope the above helps you thrive, and I'm always rooting for you all. Always.

... yes, even the haters. ❤️ 
👑 Sales Strategy