|  By  
Em Ascano, Head of Operations and Education Development

How to Recession-Proof Your Sales Team

Are we in a recession? Given the current strong labor market and high corporate earnings, we’re more likely to see a market correction than a major recession.

But whether this is technically a recession, a downturn, or a correction, one thing is for certain: everyone is talking about it. And for sales teams, this translates to spend-conscious consumers.

Frontline sales reps bear the brunt of consumer worries. In times like these, sellers experience more challenges when selling higher-end products, upselling, and cross-selling. 

A strong sales team accepts these challenges and finds creative ways to keep producing and earning commissions. Here’s how to protect your business and strengthen your sales team during times of recession. 

Mitigate the impact of high turnover

Most retail companies are plagued with high turnover rates. The stress of customer service isn’t the only thing to blame. Reps might feel unsupported by their company, or they might struggle to see the potential for upward mobility. 

Some employees churn quickly. Maybe their onboarding experience was sub-par, they didn’t fit in with their team, or they weren’t able to earn good commissions as fast as they expected to. 

“The average tenure in wireless retail is 100 days. It costs a lot to replace good people, so your first line of defense during a recession should be employee retention.” - Lily Young, Education Enablement Manager at Upduo

When consumers are worried about a recession, they’re more conservative with their money, which can further frustrate newly hired sales reps.

To help new staff achieve results quickly (and envision their future success at your company), your onboarding needs to be on point. The training should be relevant, applied, and engaging. Rather than use a passive LMS approach, you could create most of your onboarding content with Upduo, which engages staff in peer-to-peer practice and problem-solving sessions.

You can also use Upduo for ongoing mentoring, so that new team members are continually supported, set goals, and learn new skills to further their career. 

Learn how My Wireless uses Upduo for cohort onboarding, continuous learning, and mentorship. 

Use peer-to-peer learning to improve sales performance

A peer-to-peer approach is great for measurably improving sales.

With Upduo, team members are algorithmically paired up for short video phone chats. Prompts keep the conversations on track. Our team works with you to craft the session prompts to meet your goals. 

Here are some of the best ways to utilize this technology and turn sales around—even during tough economic times:

1. Support employees in earning higher commissions

During a recession, you might adjust your goals and metric focus. For example, rather than trying to boost sales of “nice-to-have” device accessories, you might focus more attention on selling device protection, which can save customers a lot of money in the long run.

With Upduo, you can launch new session prompts that will directly impact these goals. 

In this example session, participants discuss why they’ve purchased device protection in the past, the benefits of device protection, and how to handle challenges and objections. 

No matter what metrics you want to focus on, you’ll be able to craft sessions with a measurable impact. 

2. Connect employees with teammates who understand what they’re going through

When times are really tough, it’s hard to be in sales. 

You can use Upduo to connect sellers together without pre-set content. Especially in small retail locations with staffing shortages, sellers might not get to interact with other people in the same role. They can use these sessions to ask questions, get advice, and come up with solutions to shared problems.

“When you bring people together to brainstorm, you leverage everyone instead of making your staff feel like they’re just getting talked at. They’re actually participating, learning, and solving problems.” - Lily Young, Education Enablement Manager at Upduo

You can also connect managers together in sessions that are designed only for managers. That  way, they can discuss staffing and retention challenges, training ideas, and whatever else comes to mind. 

3. Speed up your learning content production

Peer-to-peer learning sessions are not only more engaging and effective than LMS content—they’re also far easier to produce.

During a recession, you need to be able to pivot. Whether that’s launching practice sessions for new promotions and offers or crafting session prompts for ongoing mentorship, you need to produce new training content fast. 

While LMS content can take months to script and film, a single Upduo session can be strategized, written, and launched in under an hour. 

4. Retain and share knowledge

There are people on your sales or management team who have been through recessions before. They know what consumers prioritize during these times, and what challenges sellers might face. 

You can use Upduo to pair up experienced and inexperienced sellers, so that organizational knowledge is retained and transferred. 

Experienced sellers get the benefit of practicing their training and management skills. Newer hires benefit through 1:1 coaching, and learn best practices from a trusted teammate.  

5. Frame any challenges in a positive light

The brink of a recession can feel like facing a self-fulfilling prophecy. Are we really in a recession? Or are we just creating a recession because we think we’re in a recession?

Just like consumer sentiment affects the economy, a seller’s mindset has an enormous impact on their numbers. 

If you use messaging that’s full of negativity and fear, your employees might believe that your company is in the midst of a full-blown recession, even when things aren’t that bad. 

So, instead of saying, “We’re in a recession, so customers might be combative or shut down conversations around upsells or cross-sells” you might instead say,, “Even though our company and most of the economy is going really strong, some customers might be afraid of a recession. So, make sure you’re sticking to our sales process and really digging into what a  customer’s needs. Then, pitch them the products and services that fit.”

The tone of your training content will depend greatly on your industry and the challenges you’re facing. But the bottom line is this: if your company’s sales aren’t impacted by this economic downturn, focus more on positive training experiences and leave the worrying to someone else. 

Learn more about how Upduo can turn your sales team  into active learners and excellent sellers