How to Hit Your Sales Goals During a Downturn: Tips from B2B Leaders

There’s no doubt this is a challenging time for tech – plummeting valuations, layoffs, and uncertainty about what comes next. 

Selling in this environment is just flat out harder. Budgets are being reduced, and anything that isn’t a “need to have” is getting cut.

But the toughest circumstances create opportunities for growth!

As a revenue leader or rep, this downturn is the perfect time to up-level your sales team’s efficiency. It forces you to focus on the highest-impact activities and cut out all the distractions.

In a masterclass on How to Hit Your Sales Goals During a Downturn, three veteran sales leaders shared tactics for making the most of your pipeline during this challenging time.

Get their advice and watch the full masterclass below!

Meet the experts:

  • Renu Gupta, VP of Sales at Thrive – 15+ years sales leadership at Slack, Dropbox, Google, Cisco, etc,
  • Elizabeth Andrew, Head of Sales at Netomi – 10+ years sales & leadership experience at Skillsoft, Dropbox, Parley Pro, etc.
  • Jamie Wheeler, Head of Sales at MessageBird – 2 decades of experience (Twilio, Braze, Layer, etc) across sales, leadership, and founding startups

1. Understand and align on the buying process 🗺

“If you don’t understand your buyer’s process, requirements, and success metrics from the start, it’ll be hard to be successful together long-term.” – Jamie Wheeler

First things first: in order to control your deals, you need to understand and align on the buying process with your buyer.

  • Anticipate your buyer’s needs.

Surprises often come up in the buying process. But many organizations have similar enough requirements that you can prepare answers for your buyers ahead of time.

Stay a few steps ahead of your buyer – for example, tell them you’ve worked with companies their size who required a security review, and proactively share a one-pager on your product’s security.

  • Use mutual action plans to control your deals.

Mutual action plans (MAPs) help you and your buyer get on the same page about the buying process, align on outcomes and success criteria, bring different stakeholders together, and define the ideal timeline. They’re critical for keeping larger, more complex deals on track and headed toward a shared goal.

2. Multi-thread on every deal 🧵

“In today’s market, with layoffs and job changes becoming more common, you don’t want your only champion to leave mid-deal cycle.” – Renu Gupta

We may be in an economic downturn for tech, but we’re also coming out of a super-hot job market. Chances are, a buyer you’re talking to might leave in the middle of the deal. By looping in other stakeholders (from both sides of the table) early, you avoid having to start from scratch.

  • Bring executive sponsors into the deal early. 

Having execs or senior members of your team involved in deals makes it easier to loop in more senior members of the buying team as well (and often leads to higher win rates).

  • Be direct and ask who else should be involved.

There’s a good chance your champion is new to their organization and doesn’t know the buying process yet. Ask them questions early in the process to find out who the decision makers are and who else needs to be involved, and loop them in ASAP. Being open to other stakeholders and sharing context early will help you avoid friction later.

3. Focus on where you’ll win & cut out the rest 🏆

“Don’t waste calories on opportunities that aren’t real. Qualify your deals out as fast as you can.” – Renu Gupta

Especially in a downturn, prioritizing your best-fit deals and highest-impact activities is essential. Don’t waste time chasing deals or activities that aren’t going to drive results.

  • Don’t be afraid to mark deals close-lost. 

Get to a “yes” or a “no” as quickly as you can in your deals – and avoid “maybe.” A “no” is better than letting a deal linger for months. Spend your time on the deals that are most likely to close, and don’t be afraid to ask your buyers hard questions so you can get the answers you need.

  • Drive toward real results, not vanity metrics.

If you’re a sales leader, constantly re-examine what you’re asking your team to do or measure. Oftentimes, the best-performing sellers have the fewest deals in their pipeline because they’re laser-focused on going above & beyond on high-quality opps. Ask yourself: are the activities we’re doing actually driving results? If not, stop doing them!

4. Be empathetic and go above & beyond for your buyers 🙌

“Exceed expectations by delivering excellence. Put your buyer first and make them look good.” – Elizabeth Andrew

Buying software is a lot of work. If your buyers are taking 30-60 minute meetings and going to bat for you, you need to help take as much off their plate as possible.

  • Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. 

Understand what’s in it for them: what goals are they trying to achieve, what success metrics are they measured against, and how can your solution help? Do the homework for your buyer and give them the answers they need to sell your solution internally.

  • Get creative with your contracts. 

Many organizations are facing tight budgets, layoffs, and uncertainty right now. If a buyer needs your solution but can’t pay the full amount up front, be open to adjusting your usual terms. Prioritize being empathetic and building long-term partnerships.

  • Be human!

People buy from people. Don’t send the same templated, generic follow-ups or outbound emails to everyone. Put in the extra effort to research your buyer ahead of time, and once you’re speaking to them, get to know them a bit more. Be authentic and don’t force it, but being personalized and thoughtful in your touchpoints goes a long way.

Two qualities that are critical for sales teams during this downturn: boldness and empathy.

By being bold and asking your buyers direct questions to get to a “yes” or “no,” you’ll be able to focus on closing more best-fit deals. And by being empathetic and putting yourselves in your buyer’s shoes, you’ll set yourself apart and build stronger customer relationships.

If you can optimize your process, up-level your team, and hit your sales goals now, you’ll be in even better shape later.

Watch the full masterclass: