How B2B Sales Can Adapt in an Economic Downturn

March 17, 2020

Strange days on this planet. If someone told you at the start of the year that your workforce would become entirely remote, toilet paper would be your most precious commodity, and your sister’s wedding would be cancelled due to a globally recognized pandemic, would you have believed it? Well here we are. 

The thing about humans is, we adapt. We pull out our laptops in our living rooms, find new uses for common napkins, and in business, we lean in on our outbound sales approach. 

Right now, you might be finding some resistance from the buyers you typically target. Marketers, like many, are pulling back and being cautious. Recent estimates by The Meyers Report say the Coronavirus impact to marketing communication budgets could be as much as $11 billion, though a more likely figure of $3 billion has been factored into its projected 2020 ad growth of about 4.8%.

As a company facing similar difficulties ourselves, we’re doubling down on our outbound approach as well. In this article, we’re highlighting what our current strategy is here at Winmo to overcome reduced spending and shrinking markets. 

#1 Be Empathetic:

We’re all going through this together. Your prospect may be dealing with city closures, remote work status, children home from school, not to mention budgetary hesitation. In this time, give space where it’s due, and then determine if there is an opportunity to provide existing or potential customers with a value add or other complimentary offering. Now is the time to nurture relationships.

#2 Be Consultative:

Your prospects are human. Sometimes they panic. In the coming days they may be narrowly focused on the business they’re going to lose, and you can be an invaluable asset that helps steer them in the direction of market share or potential revenue they can win to stay afloat. How can you help your clients adapt? Can you help them adjust their positioning, offer special discounts, or target new consumer groups to effectively navigate a challenging time? Use your subject matter expertise to help your prospects adapt.

For Winmo and our business, there are a number of ways we’re directing sellers’ attention to new prospect sets. For media sellers and agencies who target tourism and hospitality, for instance, we’re helping them pull adjacent or additional prospect lists of companies who might be a more receptive audience right now. We’re helping sales teams target the brands projected to spend more over the coming months, the D2C companies, certain packaged goods segments, and pharmaceutical brands. 

#3 Be Creative:

One company we’re working with, an experiential marketing firm, is facing an inability to carry out live events they specialize in. In the face of this challenge, they are reimagining themselves in the digital space, filling a need for consumers to connect with each other online as public gatherings are off the table. They’re one of many event and experiential brands revamping their strategy to capitalize on virtual events. How can you adjust your offerings to remain a viable option for potential partners?

#4 Go Against the Grain:

The trend in times of economic uncertainty may be to pause or pull back, but it might be helpful to remind your prospects of the advertisers who went against the grain in times of economic uncertainty, increasing their marketing outlays to capture share of mind in times of recession, in order to emerge with gains. Amazon sales grew 28% in the great recession of 2009, for instance. 

Outbound sales might be a nice-to-have in times of economic growth, when inbound inquiries  are more frequent, but in times of recession, outbound sales are a necessity. If your inbound inquiries dry up, don’t panic. Roll up your sleeves and do what successful revenue teams before you have done, take the steps above to adapt.

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