Businesses often lose focus and get fearful during times of slowdown. According to a survey by the National Small Business Association, more than half of sales leaders from small businesses reported that their sales decreased, and nearly one-third reported a decrease in profits in 2008.
Hence, it’s understandable why most companies want to prevent history from repeating itself. This is especially true for small businesses as they had a net job loss of 1.8 million during the 2008 recession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, larger businesses had a net job gain of 1.1 million at the same time.
This led to several companies going out of business or cutting costs and laying off their employees. And these instances are concerning internal teams and companies. We haven’t even dipped our toes into how companies witnessed low growth rates and poor customer budgets during 2008.
With all that being said, let us observe how your business (whether small or large) can nail higher win rates during the slowdown. Let us begin with the things you must NOT do to make matters worse!
Three things you should NOT do at this time.
First things first, here are some things sales professionalsshould refrain from doing no matter how much they are tempted to.
- Do not cut your marketing budget
During a slowdown, it may be tempting to cut your marketing budget to save money, but this can be a mistake. Marketing is essential for generating leads and maintaining sales, and cutting your marketing budget can make it more difficult to attract customers.
- Do not stop investing in your business
A slowdown can be a difficult time for businesses, but it’s important to remember that it’s also a time to invest in your business. Stopping investments in things like new technology, employee development, and research and development can put you at a disadvantage when the economy improves.
According to a survey by Deloitte, companies that invested in technology during the slowdown saw higher returns on investment than those that didn’t. Keeping this in mind, be sure to prioritize your growth and development before everything else.
- Do not ignore your cash flow
During a slowdown, cash flow can become tight as customers may take longer to pay their bills or may not pay at all. It’s important to monitor your cash flow, and take steps to improve it if necessary, such as by implementing stricter credit policies, negotiating longer payment terms with suppliers, or seeking additional financing. Ignoring cash flow can lead to financial difficulties and even bankruptcy.
What are some things you SHOULD do at this time?
Now that we got the major things to avoid out of the way, let’s focus on what sales professionalsneed to do to prevent any losses. More importantly, here’s what they could do to boost their sales and ensure their clients choose them anyway!
- Focus on cost-saving measures
During a slowdown, customers are more budget-conscious and are looking for ways to save money. Implementing cost-saving measures, such as reducing expenses and streamlining operations, can help you offer more competitive pricing and attract more customers.
A B2B software company could reduce costs by moving its operations to the cloud, automating repetitive tasks, and negotiating better deals with suppliers.
- Diversify your product or service offering
Offering a wider range of products or services can help you appeal to a larger customer base and increase your chances of making sales.
A consulting company could diversify its services by adding new areas of expertise, such as digital transformation or sustainability consulting.
- Target niche markets
Focusing on niche markets that are less affected by the slowdown can help you maintain high win rates. For example, if you sell luxury goods, you may want to target wealthy customers who are less affected by the slowdown.
Similarly, a manufacturing company could target niche markets like companies in essential industries that are less affected by the slowdown.
- Be flexible with payment terms
During a slowdown, many customers may be struggling financially. Being flexible with payment terms, such as offering financing or leasing options, can make it easier for customers to make a purchase.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies could offer flexible payment options for customers, such as pay-as-you-go or subscription-based models.
- Use digital marketing
With many people spending more time online during a slowdown, digital marketing can be an effective way to reach customers and generate leads. It is a good way to reach people at the perfect time and optimize your chances of customer success.
An IT service company could use digital marketing to reach potential customers during the slowdown, for example by using targeted advertising on LinkedIn, running webinars, or creating a strong SEO strategy.
- Improve customer service
Providing excellent customer service can help you maintain high win rates during a slowdown. Customers are more likely to return to a business that provides good service, even during tough economic times.
A B2B supplier could improve their customer service by implementing a customer support chatbot, creating a customer portal where customers can track their orders and receive updates, or providing more detailed and frequent communication to the customers.
Leading by example
To illustrate our point, here is a story of one among many successful sales leaderswho employed these strategies for their businesses to thrive during the slowdown.
John owned a B2B software company that specialized in providing enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to small and medium-sized businesses. The company had been doing well for several years, but when the slowdown hit, business slowed down dramatically.
Customers were more budget-conscious and were looking for ways to save money. John knew he had to take action to maintain high win rates during the slowdown. He focused on cost-saving measures such as moving his operations to the cloud and automating repetitive tasks.
This allowed him to reduce expenses and offer competitive pricing to customers. He also diversified his product offering by adding new ERP modules that addressed the specific needs of different industries, such as retail and healthcare. This allowed him to appeal to a larger customer base and increase his chances of making sales.
In addition, John targeted niche markets like companies in essential industries that were less affected by the slowdown. He also offered flexible payment options, such as pay-as-you-go or subscription-based models, to make it easier for customers to make a purchase.
“One of the key strategies I used to maintain high win rates during the slowdown was digital marketing. I used LinkedIn to target businesses in niche markets and created a strong SEO strategy to drive traffic to my website. This helped reach potential customers and generate leads even during tough economic times,” he said.
John improved his customer service by implementing a customer support chatbot, creating a customer portal where customers could track their orders and receive updates, and providing detailed and frequent communication to the customers. With these strategies in place, the company was able to maintain high win rates during the slowdown and come out even stronger on the other side.
What do we learn here?
Maintaining high win rates during a slowdown can be challenging for businesses, but it is not impossible. By implementing strategies that suit their needs and goals, businesses can increase their chances of customer success.
Cost reduction measures can help to offer more competitive pricing and streamline operations. Diversifying product or service offerings can help to appeal to a larger customer base. Targeting niche markets that are less affected by the slowdown can help to maintain high win rates.
Flexible payment terms can make it easier for customers to make a purchase. Digital marketing can be an effective way to reach customers and generate leads. Improving customer service can help to maintain high win rates during tough economic times.
It’s important to remember that every business is different, so it’s essential to evaluate the specific needs and challenges of your business and to adapt these strategies accordingly. If you wish to jump on the bandwagon and avoid low customer budgets during the slowdown, learn more here.