Ready or not, here it comes.
Whether it appears justified or logical unfortunately doesn't matter. Things have tightened up quickly.
Is it actually a downturn? Could this spark the start of a recession? Could it be even worse? On the other hand, could it be over this week? Either way, guess what every executive is thinking right now?
"How long is this going to last?"
"How bad is it going to get?"
Guess who knows the answer? Nobody. We can all prognosticate - but nobody knows.
Uncertainty is a crazy-machine in the brain. The challenge of the unknown throws everyone into a subconscious maintenance and survival mode.
And speaking of unknown, it's been 12+ years since the last downturn. What percentage of your customers were in their current roles back then? How about even their current companies? What percentage were even in the workforce? Probably not a single one fits all three categories. So, even if we all had certainty around the environment, there's inherent uncertainty from lack of experience.
To start, think about this: What do you do when things get unpredictable personally?
Now think about the companies you are selling to. The uncertainty train has arrived, and I'll bet the discretionary spending train is already leaving the station. There is nothing like uncertainty and looming crisis to immediately snap EVERYONE into focus.
Given how you adjust when the going gets rough, let's think about it from a corporate perspective.
So, what does this mean for you?
Step 1: Evaluate your value proposition and messaging: What bucket does your solution fall into? Are you currently seen as a discretionary project? Something nice-to-have? Is it a project with a longer-term ROI? Does it simply solve an ankle-biter problem?
During the last downturn, I was the VP of Worldwide Sales of a tech company that solved a training issue for large manufacturers (i.e., airplanes, aerospace & defense, oil & gas, automotive, etc.).
"We are able to take CAD design and repurpose it for use in creating 3D, interactive work instructions." Wow - that sounds cool...but who friggin' cares about modern training content development during a potential crisis?
Step 2: Escalate that messaging. Dig deep. Now.
Thinking about our training solution above - we managed to quickly pivot the messaging & discussion.
Mrs. Prospect, we've talked about your challenges with creating effective training materials. Why does that training issue matter? Oh, you need to enable shop-floor workers to do more assemblies than just one-or-two? Why? Oh, due to resource costs, you believe that one assembler can do 4-or-5 assemblies instead of just one-or-two like today, but there's a training effectiveness issue? Having one person do 4-or-5, all more efficiently than they could previously do on just one-or-two would keep labor costs down and get more product out the door faster? So, solving the training issue means lower labor costs and faster time-to-revenue in an area where all eyes are on this product launch? Got it.
That single conversation took us from being a $3M cash-burning short-runway startup to a $7M cash rich company almost overnight. What was previously seen as a 5-figure solution became a 7-figure solution in the eyes of our buyers. Our buyers could be heroes! Escalating our messaging to address short-term cost reduction, faster time-to-market for essential projects, all with a longer-term focus led us to 400% year-over-year growth in the heart of the downturn.
And, in January of 2009, I was on-stage at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas accepting the Golden Stevie American Business Award for Worldwide VP of Sales of the Year for how we pivoted during the downturn.
My strong advice for you: Get on tightening and escalating your messaging - like right now. Get ahead of everyone else:
This is a whole new selling environment - that has splashed upon the scene in quite literally the past few days. Hopefully it's a false alarm, and will be over quickly. If it's real, it won't be easy. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, but while uncertainty looms, the best you can do is to immediately elevate your conversations. Elevate your purpose in times of uncertainty. Empathize with your buyers.
And to make matters worse, the week starts by losing an hour and ends with a Friday the 13th, but we'll all get through this... 😃
Oh, and be vigilant - wash your hands, quarantine yourself if you're sick, use common sense.
On Friday, March 13th at 1pm CT, join me along with Sales Assembly and sponsors Gong, Outreach, Sendoso and Path Factory for a webinar talking about the science behind buyer anxiety, and how to prepare for a downturn. SIGN UP HERE - IT'S FREE
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!