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Norman Behar

By: Norman Behar on November 29th, 2022

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What to Keep Top of Mind When Selling in a Down Economy

Closing | C-Suite Selling

Over the last few months, economic uncertainty has increased significantly due to a combination of factors including geopolitical tensions, supply chain issues, and stubbornly high inflation rates.

While it seemed like companies were set to weather these headwinds, we are now seeing companies emphasizing doing “more with less” and re-evaluating their budgets. Many companies are initiating layoffs. This is especially true for companies that are not confident they can meet projected growth rates.

For sales professionals, selling to companies that face these challenges requires focused opportunity management, since every purchase decision will likely have a heightened degree of scrutiny. By focusing on the following three areas, sales professionals can greatly increase their success during a down economy.

1. Solution Alignment

This is the single biggest reason opportunities don’t close. The customer doesn’t see enough value in your solution so it is rejected or deferred based on other priorities. To get full credit for the value your solution offers, assess whether you have:

  • Identified a clear business need that the customer wants to solve
  • Presented a solution that specifically addresses their need(s)
  • Shared a compelling business impact that is well understood by the decision maker(s)
  • Established confidence in your ability to deliver and implement the solution

2. Relationship Strength 

The number of stakeholders involved in decision-making has grown significantly so it is important to expand your sphere of influence within accounts. As a starting point, you should develop an account map to ensure you can identify who is likely to be involved in the decision-making process. Then, ensure you have:

  • Developed a relationship with a customer coach who can provide you with access to key stakeholders
  • Established relationships with all the key influencers and decision-makers
  • Secured executive-level support and sponsorship for your solution

3. Timing 

In a down economy, customers are likely to reconsider priorities and put purchase decisions on hold. To insulate against this risk, you should:

  • Confirm that the business need still exists and whether there are any new business needs you can help the customer solve
  • Restate the value your solution offers and the benefits they will realize
  • Collaborate on implementation plans/timing to increase buy-in and sponsorship
Next Steps

Instead of thinking about the above-listed areas as binary, think of them as a continuum for each opportunity. As you review each opportunity in your pipeline, consider steps you can take to:

  • Increase the value of your solution (benefits)
  • Improve executive-level access and sponsorship (access strategies)
  • Insulate from delays and competing priorities (compelling reason to move forward now)
Unfortunately, we often delay opportunity management until it is too late. While we don’t have control over business conditions, improved opportunity management is a proven way to close more business during a down economy.

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About Norman Behar

Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD,, and Selling Power.