Let’s face it: selling during a recession is a challenging and stressful job.

While companies are slowly returning to work after being out of business for months, the effects of an economy in standstill are far from done. Many reps are facing a sales slump as a recession becomes the new reality for the foreseeable future.

The recession from 2007 is still fresh in many sales reps' minds, and they may start to feel panic when sales are down. A recession doesn’t have to mean the end of your sales career, though.


Illustration of businessman discussing money

Great reps know that selling during recessions, while tough, can actually present opportunities. There are ways to be successful, even when sales are down for everyone else. Between the lack of competitors to customers that are desperate to save time and money, a recession can be an opportunity to get ahead.

Here are some ways to turn around your sales and stay successful, even during a recession.


What to Do When Sales are Down


A recession, especially during the current global situation, presents unique challenges for sales reps, but there are ways to meet and exceed quota. If your sales are struggling even as businesses are starting to open up, there are critical steps you can take to start winning.


Image of two disappointed businessmen outside


Sell Defensively


Both the recession and global health situation has put most people into their “fight or flight” instincts. Your target customers are worried about their companies’ survival and less concerned with luxuries. Your selling strategy needs to change to reach your customers and their new motivations that attract them to your product or service.

Reframe your pitch to take this "fight or flight" instinct into account. For example, replace the word "want" with "need" and speak to your customer's necessities rather than desires. Also, think about the value drivers in your pitch in light of the new global climate. Your customer’s pain points may have changed, so adjust your pitch to align with their new concerns and issues.

If you are using the same pitch as pre-recession, it will likely fall flat. You need to rephrase and reframe your selling strategy to reach leaders who are also grappling with a changing world.


Remember Your Current Customers


While new sales should always be your primary concern, your current customers will keep the business afloat when times are hard. A recession is a perfect time to appreciate the customers you have and let them know that they are still valuable to you.

Consider sending a simple thank you card or small gift to your loyal customers. Sendoso makes it simple to send tokens of appreciation to your clients.


Expand Your Skills


Sales reps often find too much time on their hands during difficult seasons. Use this time wisely and expand your selling skills through learning courses. You can become even more indispensable to prospects, clients, and your sales team.

There are multiple sales courses that you can take online. Also, consider taking more time to learn about your product or industry to help provide additional value to your customers.


Contact Fewer Prospects More Frequently


The temptation for many sales reps during this time is to start cold calling and emailing as many people as possible. That usually backfires, though, as they waste time contacting people that have no interest in their product and ignore warmer leads.

During a recession, leaders will be more hesitant to buy and may need more decision makers before investing in your product. This means that the right prospects will require more contact and the right sales cadence to make sure they get the proper amount of attention. Plan on contacting your leads more often and providing them with more care instead of trying to reach out to the maximum number of people possible.


Businessman in a suit wearing medical mask and holding up a downward-sloping graph

Get into the Right Mindset


It's easy to feel defeated during a sales slump, and hearing no too many times can get disheartening. However, the wrong mindset can be self-defeating and cause more damage than a recession to your sales. It can make you desperate, cause you to avoid crucial aspects of sales, and make your job unbearable.

It’s during this time that keeping an enthusiastic and positive mindset is critical. Keep a vision of what you want to accomplish, whether a quota, career goal, or reward for your hard work. Create positive habits that will get you into the right mindset every day, such as listening to inspirational sales podcasts, playing uplifting music, and staying clear of negative people. Even starting each day with a positive affirmation can help put you in the right headspace to turn your sales around.


Take Risks


It’s easy to fall into a sales rut when things are going OK. Challenging times are great for forcing us out of our comfort zones and finding new creative ways to sell. If your current strategies for finding warm leads are drying up, now is the time to start getting uncomfortable and trying out different ways to reach your customers. The concept of “take more swings” gives you more chances to meet potential customers and reach different people. They might not all work out, but you really can’t know unless you try.

If your leads through social media are drying up, you might want to try cold calling businesses that could use your product or service. Try answering questions on Quora related to your expertise or follow relevant threads on Reddit. When meeting in public becomes safe again, try going to relevant trade shows or events where leads could be. Also, consider trying out new industries if your main ideal customer was affected by COVID.

During difficult times you should have multiple strategies for selling. Now is not the time to be nervous about trying new strategies or failure. Take more chances and see what comes of them.


Get Your Sales Back on Track


Those who fail to get creative or adapt to the changes in our world will continue to struggle in sales. The good news is this is a new climate for everyone, so no one has the upper hand when it comes to know-how and experience. There is more room for mistakes as everyone finds out what works and what doesn't in sales.

You don't have to let a recession keep you from getting sales. With creativity, adaptability, and a positive mindset, you can get ahead of the competition and find better selling strategies.