Motivate Your Sales Team in a Tough Economy 

Experts at the International Monetary Fund have forecasted a 18% year-over-year decrease in baseline economic growth, and for advanced economies, like the United States, it’s an even bigger drop: 52% to be precise. However, despite the rocky economic climate, SaaS salespeople will be glad to know the B2B tech market still draws plenty of demand. In fact, Garner predicts an 11% jump in SaaS spending for 2023, while TechCrunch estimates a slightly larger increase of 18%.  

But even as SaaS spending continues to grow, B2B sellers still need to navigate the uncertainties of our current economic outlook to maintain (or even increase) win rates, drive productivity, and keep motivation high. That means you, as a sales leader, need to set the right tone for your team to guide them away from errors and closer to success. 

How do you do that? Simple. It’s all about putting these three principles to work: 

Principle #1 – Efficiency

In an economic downturn, organizations make significant budget cuts to minimize overheads as much as possible. In May 2023 alone, companies like LinkedIn, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, and Deloitte slashed over 6,300 jobs collectively, all to mitigate any further blows to the bottom line.* Therefore, as a sales leader, it’s important to equip your team with the skills and resiliency necessary to create opportunities for conversion in a challenging market. And that starts by building a culture of efficiency within your sales organization, emphasizing the merit of doing more with less. 

Remind your sales team of the law of averages, from the business point-of-view: the more opportunities you give yourself to make a sale, the more likely it is you’ll come away with one. So, stress the importance of creating more shots with prospects, especially in a tough economy. Win rates can only go up if your reps give themselves enough chances to sell. 

Ensure your team that extra time to maximize selling opportunities by putting automated technology and machine learning to good use. Here’s a quick rundown of some sales tools that can help you inject some much-needed efficiency into your daily workflow: 

Tools to optimize customer relationship management

  • HubSpot – automates pipeline creation and email outreach; records customer insights you can leverage to optimize nurturing 
  • Salesloft – offers customizable dashboards of customer data so you can quickly and efficiently identify the most opportune steps to move buyers through the sales process  

Tools to streamline communication and outreach

  • Chat GPT – Uses AI and machine learning to draft automatic responses based on a user’s prompt; adds efficiency to email communication and prospect outreach 
  • Outreach – Automates tasks throughout the buyer’s journey; gives you the ability to manage communication, social interaction, and outbound efforts with precision and efficiency 
  • Drip – Crafts automated email responses to prospects based on predetermined criteria and recorded signals of purchase intent 
  • ReplyForceTM – Automates email outreach using customizable templates; allows you to personalize correspondence and track outreach efforts to accelerate growth 

Tools to simplify prioritization

  • Gong – Records, transcribes, and analyzes all sales communications to determine buyer trends, interests, and purchase intent; allows you to strategically facilitate engagement and conversion  
  • KlarityTM – Uses automation to help you build and refine prospect lists with pinpoint accuracy; tracks customer data in real time, ensuring access to accurate buyer contacts 

While these are just a few examples, it’s easy to see the benefit of using tech solutions to drive efficiency throughout the sales process, especially when economic uncertainty affects your ability to do so. 

Principle #2 – Prioritization

Consider these two interesting insights: today’s sales leaders say prospecting is by far the most challenging aspect of the sales process, and a lack of prioritization poses the biggest risk to prospecting productivity. Combine those two findings and the conclusion is clear—sales reps who can properly prioritize high-potential sales opportunities have the highest likelihood to strategically accelerate conversion and increase productivity. 

First, you need to show your sales team how to identify high-priority opportunities among all potential prospects. Then, you must ensure they focus all their outbound activity on these targeted buyers. By creating a more concentrated pipeline of high-priority prospects, your sales team can essentially close more deals, increase win rates, and drive productivity in a less-than-favorable economy. 

Here are a few tips to get started: 

Enhance your ICP

Take your detailed ICP and layer in multiple data sets to see who, among all prospects, best fits your ideal buyer profile. You can use information like technographic datapurchase intent signals, and engagement metrics to uncover prospects with the most buying potential.  

Minimize your TAM

Look at your total addressable market (TAM) and see if it’s possible to narrow it down even further by applying additional criteria from your detailed ICP. This really puts a spotlight on contacts and accounts with sales-ready probability.  

Strategically focus your efforts

With less resources on hand, it’s impossible to address your entire market, so make sure whatever you do—whether it’s targeting prospects via outbound efforts or using spend on marketing outreach—it should be laser-focused on those with only the highest probability to convert.  

Principle #3 – Mentorship 

As a sales leader, it’s your top responsibility to prepare your team for success. And that means providing them with all the necessary know-how to navigate economic uncertainty and market constraint. If you can teach your sales reps how to sell successfully in an unstable economy, just imagine what they’ll be able to do in more favorable circumstances. 

Take a more pragmatic approach to your mentorship. Teach your team the benefit of using mathematical reasoning to scale sales success in a tough economy. Here’s what we mean: 

Let data inform your next move

Encourage your reps to review individual sales data every three months. This includes tracking the number of meetings they manage to set per call, how many deals they close per meeting, their typical deal size, and average renewal rate. By reviewing this kind of data every three months, it gives your sales reps the opportunity to detect any unique market trends and adjust efforts accordingly.  

Use sales math to your advantage

How much input or effort does it take to achieve a target output? That’s what your sales reps should ask themselves every time they analyze their quarterly data, because there’s always a mathematical answer. Understanding the difference between sales inputs and outputs gives your reps a much better idea of how to modify their strategies moving forward.  

It all starts with a goal. Once your reps have a specific target in mind (i.e., X number of closed deals), they can then look back to historical data and analyze past performance. From these numbers, they can accurately gauge the amount of input necessary to achieve their desired outcome.  

Lead by example, practice logic, scale success

Despite economic uncertainty, sales organizations still have every opportunity to drive valuable revenue, though it takes a strategic, solutions-focused sales leader to guide them in the right direction. By fostering a culture of efficiency, prioritization, and practical guidance, you can teach your team the critical skills to navigate market downturn, maintain productivity, and keep motivation running high.  


* Biron, Bethany, Samantha Delouya, and Lakshmi Varanasi. “LinkedIn is the Latest Company to Slash Jobs Amid a Layoff Wave Expanding Beyond Tech.” Business Insider, 9 May 2023: