Grow Revenue During a Recession by Being Counter-Intuitive

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 10, 2023 @ 15:05 PM


All the requirements have been met.

We have already seen these factors occur across the board:

  • Low QoQ GDP. 
  • High interest rates. 
  • Massive layoffs.
  • Inflation.
  • Stock Market down.
  • Cost-cutting. 

We are now seeing these events in sales organizations:

  • Missed forecasts. 
  • Closing delays. 
  • Failure to hit quotas.
  • Order cancellations.  

We know what doesn't work in a recession. 

The economic crisis of 2008-9, and the Covid lockdowns of 2020-2021 showed us that when companies focus on cost-cutting instead of growing revenue, revenue declines - sharply.  Who would have guessed that smart people wouldn't see that coming?

You know what to do when dry weather conditions aren't favorable for growing trees, flowers, and shrubs. You don't pull the plants out of the ground or let them succumb to the dry conditions.  You add water. It's a very simple concept.

Can companies add water to grow revenue when the economic conditions are evaporating?  Yes, but it's counter-intuitive.

Instead of laying off salespeople, hire salespeople.  Instead of discounting, get better at selling value.  Instead of getting more transactional on more opportunities, target more effectively and be more consultative. And instead of calling on anyone who will speak with you, call on the people with the authority to spend money during a spending freeze, and with you instead of a lower priced competitor. It's easy for me to say but I've personally seen, orchestrated, and executed those philosophies, in desperate times, to achieve revenue growth instead of revenue loss.

Let's discuss the concept of hiring salespeople when the knee-jerk reaction is to lay-off, fire or initiate a hiring freeze.  Only CFOs would see the addition of salespeople as an expense to be cut.  Anyone who knows how a company's economic engine works, knows that if you pay a salesperson $150,000 and they generate $1 million at a 40% margin, the company will get a return of $250,000 on their investment.  What's not to like?  Even if they generate only half that much their first year, that is still 20% better than break-even.  Why wouldn't you do this?

Even more intriguing is the fact that the current economic conditions have flipped the sales candidate market on its head.  Anyone who has been actively looking for salespeople knows that there has been an acute shortage of good salespeople in the job market, and those who were out there were more passive than aggressive.  They were looking but not biting, nibbling but not following through, interviewing but turning down offers, or hired and not showing up for their first day of work.  It sucked.

But today, sales candidates are being much more aggressive, acting with conviction, willing to change jobs, looking for more security, and doing whatever it takes to secure an interview, even if it means taking the time to complete an online application and a 45-minute sales candidate assessment.  That's great news for companies that want to grow revenue right now and into 2024.

But it can't be any salesperson who is willing to accept your offer.  As I mentioned earlier in this article, the new salespeople you attract, assess and hire must be able to sell value over price and sell consultatively to decision makers instead of transactionally to underlings.  If you are using Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments, it means that as few as one in six candidates will be recommended because that's how few salespeople there are who can take those two approaches, executive effectively, and meet the requirements for what it takes to succeed at your company in this particular selling role.  It also means that the one in six will be a rock star.  OMG's accuracy is legendary and its predictive validity is around 90%.  More specifically, the data over the last fifteen years shows that candidates who are not recommended, but get hired, fail inside of six months.  The data also shows that 92% of salespeople who are recommended and hired rise to the top half of their sales teams within one year.  And the latest data shows that 100% of the recommended salespeople that were hired were still working for the company one year later!

Plants that don't get enough water, fail to flower, don't produce fruit, don't grow and eventually die.

Sales organizations that don't improve through better selection and hiring, first-class sales leadership, and top-notch training and coaching, fail to hit numbers, don't grow revenue, and cause far-reaching ripple effects into the company, often having an impact on Private Equity firms, Wall Street, and investors.

If you are a CEO, take this article to heart and hire stronger salespeople today.

If you are a Sales Leader or HR director, take this article to your CEO and get buy-in today!

If you are a salesperson, take this article to your Sales Leader and they'll know what to do.

See a sample OMG Sales Candidate Assessment.

Get a free trial of an OMG Sales Candidate Assessment.

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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