Remember 13 years ago, when the U.S. economy’s “Great Recession” of 2009 forced organizations to cut staffing and reevaluate budgets to “recession-proof” their sales teams? Well, it appears we’re on the brink of another economic downturn. From record-high inflation and rising interest rates to ongoing supply chain disruptions and widespread market volatility, all signs point toward an impending recession (subscription needed) coming in the near future. According to a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal (subscription needed), economists have dramatically raised the probability of a recession over the next 12 months to 44%—a level usually only seen on the brink of or during actual recessions.
That means now is a critical time for sales organizations to prepare for a future of economic uncertainty—again. This time around, however, the fundamental concept of recession-proofing a sales team has an entirely different meaning. It’s not about “doing more with less” like it was last time. It’s about doing more with the existing industry footprint and team structures you already have in place, thanks to the newfound capabilities afforded by AI-powered sales enablement automation. By integrating different forms of this advanced technology into their enablement framework, organizations can maintain current staff levels by taking other proactive steps to preserve their bottom lines amidst economic instability.
Maximizing Seller Performance With Scalable AI-Powered Coaching
Providing personalized coaching at scale is the first key component to enhancing the productivity and performance of your core customer-facing sales team. According to McKinsey & Company, top sales organizations commit to nearly 80% more coaching than industry peers. However, the traditional sales coaching blueprint featuring ad-hoc onboarding, static training materials, in-person feedback and legacy learning management systems (LMS) is no longer effective amid shifts to virtual selling environments.
Effective sales coaching today requires digital-centric personalization and scalability—two elements that allow sellers to learn at their own pace in ways that work best for them. Whether it’s just-in-time onboarding, customizable course creation, economy-tailored everboarding or remote video training options, flexibility is what really empowers sellers to become the best buyer-ready version of themselves. Not cookie-cutter coaching.
Another key benefit afforded by sales enablement automation is the ability to leverage machine learning for personalized coaching feedback. Take Conversation Intelligence, for example, which automates the analysis of a seller’s tone of voice during conversations with prospects, in turn generating actionable insights that reveal how they were (or would be) perceived by the audience. The automated guidance enables organizations to enhance the productivity of their entire team with personalized, data-driven remote coaching. In addition to ensuring sellers are delivering the right messaging during pitches, it also confirms whether their tone of voice displays high levels of confidence that maximize the likelihood of a sale. A 2019 Conversation Intelligence study revealed that a prospect’s willingness to buy increased 13-fold when the speaker sounded confident and authentic.
Maximizing Buyer Engagement With Interactive And Relevant Sales Content
With B2B buying budgets shrinking amid the recession, sellers will undoubtedly have fewer “at-bats” to transform potential prospects into solidified customers. In turn, maximizing the value of those limited buyer-seller interactions will be paramount. It requires arming sellers with the right interactive sales content that is most valuable and relevant to the individual buyer.
Both value and relevance can have a direct impact on sales performance. Demand Gen’s 2021 B2B Buyers Survey Report examined key trends relative to virtual buyer behavior. Among the findings was a clear link between the relevancy of sales content and the purchasing decisions of organizational decision-makers. The top two factors that influenced their decisions were:
• Easy access to relevant content that speaks directly to their company.
• Content that demonstrates expertise around the needs of the organization’s specific industry.
Without real-time visibility into what interactive content is best resonating with prospects, sellers cannot determine its value or relevancy. It’s critical to have a sales enablement tech stack that can transform engagement data from any stage of the sales cycle into actionable insights revealing buyer intent. In turn, sellers will have the information they need to prioritize the right leads, deliver the right messaging and distribute the right content to maximize buyer engagement with fewer at-bats.
Return on investment (ROI) calculations will be among the most relevant forms of sales content during a recession. Now more than ever, buyers must be able to convey the return value of B2B purchases in order to get project funding approved within constrained budgets. The content personalization function of sales enablement technology allows sellers to create and distribute content that simplifies ROI calculations for buyers, which serves as a competitive differentiator that can be presented to the financial decision-makers of their organization. With streamlined visibility into the direct ROI of specific purchases, buyers can, in turn, effectively display the value of spending to help it remain an organizational priority.
In life, we can’t always control what happens to us, but what we can control is how we react to it. While an oncoming recession could be inevitable, organizations can take steps now to ensure it isn’t detrimental. By adopting the integrated use of sales enablement automation, you can position yourself to not only weather economic volatility but also foster organizational growth and sustained success in spite of it.