Maximizing sales in a contract economy

by Ana Lopez

Hendrik Isebaert is CEO of Showpadthe sales enablement platform that drives buyer engagement and improves conversion rates.

The past year has been a complicated year for sales teams. From a business standpoint, 2022 was the first somewhat “normal” year in a while where the pandemic was not the main focus, instead we faced economic uncertainty. Inflation and one impending recession are of great concern for the C-suite, but another big question is, how do you sell in an economic downturn?

As the CEO of a sales enablement platform, I notice that many of today’s salespeople feel disadvantaged and uninspired. Amid a digital transformation that has taken place over the past two years, a number of sellers still rely on outdated strategies that can’t keep up with today’s modern, time-poor buyer.

Sellers need strategies that drive value, volume and speed to stay afloat during this difficult period of adjustment. Here are several ways to stay ahead and prepare for a successful year ahead.

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Learning in sales is a continuous process, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Everyone learns differently, especially when it comes to selling in today’s hybrid world. Salespeople can’t use traditional sales approaches in these situations, so they must learn to sell in a hybrid world.

Digital selling is quite nuanced and requires salespeople to be proficient in certain techniques to close deals efficiently. Therefore, organizations need to ensure they have a learning and coaching system that is aligned with the products and services it sells. By doing this, onboarding new team members can be much more streamlined and help you achieve better performance.

Sellers should also be empowered to act as trusted advisors throughout the sales process, and this type of training should never stop at onboarding. Instead, sales teams should embrace the practice of “everboarding,” where salespeople are constantly learning on the job as buyer priorities shift. Practicing and playing real-life sales scenarios can help with this. This can help sellers expand their knowledge base and interact with buyers to help impact the bottom line.

Of course, salespeople need to have a way to ensure that their coaching and learning methods are effective. Otherwise they get no value from it. In fact, if they are implemented incorrectly and no clear performance indicators are outlined, they may lose value. Therefore, salespeople should test their team’s system in a simulated environment so they can see which products and services have worked the lessons and which need to be adjusted, especially in a hybrid world. Some lessons may be more outdated or “too traditional” and need to be tailored to the modern buyer. By doing this, sales reps can feel confident that their coaching approach is personalized and working as effectively as possible.


In a shrinking economy, salespeople will need to think outside the box about ways to generate leads and turn every conversation into an opportunity. One approach salespeople can take is to look at areas where leads have previously come from and see what else can be leveraged there. Salespeople may be surprised at the new opportunities they discover to reach new prospects.

For example, events are a great way to generate leads. Perhaps there was a conference or trade show where a salesperson attended and they made meaningful contacts. When the prospect dries up properly, previous connections can be used to create leads and find prospects that salespeople may have ignored. Teams can also use their company’s website analytics to create more compelling lead generation opportunities throughout the buyer journey.

It’s also important to look at where the most successful leads come from and recreate those successes. Some ways to do this include looking internally for top sellers. When top performers’ best practices are implemented as company-wide practices for success, everyone benefits. But just as wins show value, so can losses. Evaluating what can be learned from the losses provides more effective coaching scenarios and ultimately improves conversion rates for sales teams. With a strong sales roadmap, salespeople can ensure greater consistency and better results.


Being quick is the message in sales, and not closing a deal fast enough can lead to buyer frustration and opt for a competitor’s product or service instead. Sales teams need to have speed in a sales process, but in a way that doesn’t lose the buyer along the way.

Gartner reported that 77% of B2B buyers found their recent purchase journeys very complex. A more complex sales cycle means salespeople need to be more prepared and flexible than ever before. As such, sellers need to track, generate and analyze insights to gain real insight into what works and what doesn’t during the buyer journey. For this to be effective, sellers should consider adopting a buyer-driven selling approach that puts buyers at the center of their journey.

I believe the future will be led by the buyer as power has shifted from the seller to the buyer. The more buyers feel empowered throughout the sales cycle, the more salespeople can deliver more dynamic content in a more effective manner.

To foster this empowerment, sellers need to be attuned to buyers’ needs and listen carefully to their pain points and what they want to achieve with a new solution. Sellers need to remember that they are selling to people at the end of the day, so creating a personal connection and personalized experience will drive buyers to continue the buyer journey and eventually make a purchase if the product or service helps them achieve their goals.

In times of economic uncertainty, a strong activation strategy can help sellers weather the storm. Using the “Three Rs,” salespeople can navigate prospects, sell effectively in the digital age, and use the power of data to their advantage. This approach allows sellers to continue doing what they love with minimal impact from the current headwinds. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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