Sales Prospecting in a Recession

Prospecting is always one of the most difficult parts of the sales process. Talking to the right prospects, at the right time, with the right message is challenging. It’s even more difficult when the economy is in a tough spot.

While we are not officially in a recession, most economists are now forecasting a recession in the next 6-12 months. So this is a good time to think about how you will respond with your sales and marketing approach should an economic downturn hit.

It’s important to recognize there are always opportunities out there; you just need to be strategic with your approach. With an intentional focus, tough economic periods can be advantageous to a sales team who can respond quickly. While your competitors still act like the sun is shining, you’ll be ready with your umbrella.

Prospecting Factors To Consider

Reviewing your prospecting strategy, you’ll want to reconsider a couple of factors that a slowdown in business activity may impact. In particular, the two key factors: your product’s positioning and the economic outlook of your target prospects.

Your Product’s Positioning

First is your product’s positioning. Looking at where your product fits into your customer’s business operations. It likely falls into one of these three categories:

  • Essential – Your product or service is required to maintain business operations.
  • Neutral – Your product or service is important and should be purchased regularly.
  • Discretionary – Your product or service is a “nice to have” that isn’t needed for normal operations.  

As you review your products and service positioning, consider how they fit into those three categories. It might be that some of your offerings are essential, while other products you offer are discretionary.

Economic Outlook of Prospect

The other important factor to consider is the economic outlook of your specific target market or audience. Most economic downturns don’t affect every industry and company the same way.

While some, or even most industries, will be negatively impacted by an economic contraction, not all will. In fact, some industries may continue a positive growth trajectory through economic turmoil.

Review your target markets (and existing customers), and label them with their economic outlook. Is it positive? Neutral? Or negative? Separate industries, locations, and specific buyers by their labels.

Recession Prospecting Matrix

You can then create a recession prospecting matrix by using these two factors (your products’ positioning and the economic outlook of your customers).

recession prospecting matrix

This matrix will help you identify areas of opportunity in your sales and marketing strategy. Using it as a guide, you can begin to consider your best prospects and which of your products or services will be best to promote.

Use this matrix to identify:

  • Who will be buying more?
  • Who might delay purchases?
  • Who will be cutting back?

You can then revise your sales and market strategy to update who and how you’ll be prospecting.

Which audiences should you focus on? Look for industries or customer personas still experiencing a positive growth outlook. These are the prospects that you want to focus the bulk of your prospecting efforts.

How should you position your products or services? Consider how you can promote your products as essential, instead of a “nice to have” that could be cut from the budget. Focus on consultative selling that identifies the problem you solve and its impact on your customers’ business.

It’s always a matter of when, not if, an economic downturn will occur. You can be prepared by intentionally revising your prospecting strategy as market conditions change.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *