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    May 2, 2023

    5 Tips for Boosting Sales Performance During a Downturn: Strategies from Private Equity Expert Paul Stansik

    In the world of sales, beating your quota during a downturn can be a daunting challenge. To succeed, the first step is to identify the root cause of any issues you're facing. Once you understand the underlying problems, you can start to make improvements to your sales and marketing processes. In this blog post, we'll discuss five tips for boosting your sales performance during a downturn drawn from our recent interview with Paul Stansik, an operating partner with private equity firm ParkerGale, including how to measure progress towards targets, expand your solution with Jobs to be Done, create a buyer's guide, pick a category to play in, and keep a weekly view of qualified opportunities. By implementing these strategies, you'll be better equipped to weather any economic storm and achieve your sales goals.

    When it comes to beating your sales quota during a downturn, the first step is to identify the root cause of any issues you're facing.

    This could include deals falling through or your pipeline not performing as expected. By taking the time to analyze and understand these problems, you can start to make meaningful improvements to your sales and marketing processes. In fact, understanding the underlying issues is often the key to success in any business. Once you've identified the problem areas, you can begin to develop strategies and tactics that will help you overcome them. Whether it's improving your lead generation efforts, refining your sales pitch, or implementing new marketing techniques, there are plenty of ways to boost your sales performance during a downturn. The key is to focus on your customers’ job to be done, and how you’re helping them reach it.
    If you find yourself in a meeting where the focus is solely on sharing customer stories—even good ones—and not on measuring progress towards a target, it's important to take a step back and assess the situation. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new deal or project, but without clear goals and metrics to measure success, it's difficult to truly evaluate progress. As a member of the executive or sales team, it's important to ensure that sales meeting has a clear purpose and objective, and that progress is being tracked towards established targets. This not only ensures that everyone is on the same page, but also helps to identify areas for improvement and opportunities for growth. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask for clarity or suggest ways to better measure progress. In the end, it will benefit not just the team, but also the organization as a whole.

    While your buyers may associate your product with a certain category, you may be able to expand your solution by considering their Job to be Done

    Companies often find themselves stuck in a rut, trying to grow their business by a certain percentage or maintain their current level of success. However, even with seemingly antiquated technology, there is always potential for unexpected value. This is where Jobs to be Done can come in handy: while there may be buyers in a certain category, there are often problems they didn't realize that the product category could solve. This twist in value can be applied to companies that aren't necessarily trying to create a new category, but simply looking to increase their growth. By realizing that their technology and platform can solve more problems than they typically sell against, companies can add these solutions to their offerings and get the message out to customers. It's important to remember that sometimes the greatest potential for growth and success can come from unexpected places.
    Though it may seem counterintuitive, a buyers’ guide, which compares your product to others in the market can help you close new, even happier customers customers, by helping them to understand the job that you can solve for them. In addition to product information, a buyers’ guide also includes questions that might not be obvious but are important to ask to ensure that the product meets your needs and integrates seamlessly with your current setup. Buying things, especially for a company, can be a hassle, so it's crucial to approach buyers with empathy and provide them with the tools and information they need to make the process as easy as possible. Your job is not just to persuade buyers that your product is excellent, but also to recognize that purchasing it is extra work and offer assistance that goes above and beyond.
    By picking a category and understanding its conventions, you give yourself the opportunity to play with them and create something truly exceptional.
    Choosing a category is crucial when it comes to creating a successful says strategy. As Paul points out, there’s an interesting lesson to be found in pitch for the classic film, Alien. It's a sci-fi movie set in outer space, but it's also a horror movie. Director Ridley Scott could have pitched the movie in a way that emphasized the movie’s convoluted plot, a strategy that would have left studio executives confused and uninterested. Or, he could have gone with something simpler: “Jaws in space."
    While the former relies entirely on a completely new ‘product, the latter taps into a category that was familiar to audiences and studio execs, and gave them a clear idea of what to expect. This allowed the filmmakers to focus on the unique twists and turns that would make Alien stand out from other movies in the genre. When creating any piece of content—or a new product—it's important to remember that context matters. By picking a category and understanding its conventions, you give yourself the opportunity to play with them and create something truly exceptional.
    By keeping a weekly view of how many qualified opportunities have been created, and monitoring the rolling average over time, companies can quickly identify trends and make adjustments as needed.
    One of the most important things for companies to do is to cultivate a sense of productive paranoia, ideally through data and deep customer understanding. This means being constantly aware of potential threats, challenges, and changes in your customers’ needs and jobs to be done, and taking proactive steps to address them before they become major problems. In order to do this effectively, it is important to track a variety of metrics, including top of funnel leads, marketing qualified leads, and sales qualified leads. However, it is also important to focus on the most critical metric: qualified opportunities. By keeping a weekly view of how many qualified opportunities have been created, and monitoring the rolling average over time, companies can quickly identify trends and make adjustments as needed. If the trend is downward, it is important to take action to address the underlying issues, whether that involves changes to the sales process, marketing strategy, or other factors. Ultimately, the key is to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve, rather than waiting until it is too late to make meaningful changes. By embracing a culture of productive paranoia, companies can build resilience and adaptability, and stay competitive in an ever-changing business landscape.
    In conclusion, beating your sales quota during a downturn requires a combination of understanding the root causes of any issues, staying focused on measurable progress, expanding the potential value of your product, providing empathy and support to buyers, and picking the right category to play with and create exceptional content or products. By staying proactive and monitoring key metrics such as qualified opportunities, companies can identify trends and make necessary adjustments to stay ahead of the curve. Embracing a sense of productive paranoia and constantly seeking new opportunities for growth can help companies weather any storm and emerge even stronger on the other side. By following these strategies and tactics, companies can set themselves up for long-term success and achieve their sales goals, even in the toughest of times.

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