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How to Adjust Your Sales Strategy to Sell in a Down Market

Highlights of Our Interview With Kevin Dorsey at SaaStock

Kevin Dorsey is the Revenue Leadership Practice Lead at Winning by Design. He went from leading sales teams at multiple different organizations to coaching and training thousands of leaders and reps in SaaS Sales. Kevin also hosts the, ‘Live Better. Sell Better’ podcast and runs Inside Sales Excellence, the #1 Patreon group for tech sellers and leaders.

The team at Salesroom had a chance to sit down with Kevin at the SaaStock 2022 Conference in Dublin, to discuss today’s economic climate and how sales and marketing teams need to evolve in order to succeed. 

Here is a highlight of our conversation:

How do you create urgency for buyers?

Right now, the most important thing you need to do is change your messaging. Use the objection as the reason you’re reaching out. Paint a picture for your prospects as to why it’s even more important to have your product during a recession.

What happens frequently in SaaS is companies are too addicted to speed and getting their prospects to buy sooner rather than later. But the problem is, you can’t create urgency. If you can get a yes for next year, take that yes next year. Figure out ways to work with your buyer and get creative with your terms and contract to make sure that happens.

Who should be in charge of positioning?

Marketing is usually better at copywriting, sales tend to know the customer better. Whoever understands the customer better should be responsible. But both teams should be working closely together to come up with the messaging. Sales talks to prospects every day, so Marketing needs to go to sales and say, “What are you hearing?” “What are the objections coming up now that weren’t before” “Why are people hesitating?” Then marketing needs to take that information and go build content accordingly. Headlines on your website and marketing copy should be changed to what the market is now. It needs to be a partnership.

What should sales leaders be focusing on?

Look at each of your sales during this time and look for patterns. Is there a certain industry that's buying? Is it a persona or size segment? Look at the data to find those patterns and double down there. Do less instead of more. Find what’s working and put the majority of your focus there. It may be scary at first but that is where you’re going to get the results that you need.

Is there a type of seller that is better suited to a recession than a growing market?

The short answer is, absolutely. When you’re in an upmarket, basically, you just need to not mess up. When budgets are big, everybody is raining money, and you have a decent market fit it’s more on you to guide the buyer through the process. When things get hard, this is when you really need to sell. Sellers need to be better at showing the buyer that it’s worth the risk. When buyers are waiting for things to get better, sellers need to prove that it’s not a risk to buy, not doing something is the bigger risk. They also need to take away the fear that what your selling won’t work. Convince them to get away from the status quo. Great sellers are best at making the buyer feel comfortable that they made the best decision for their company.

How do you navigate the reality of the market without scaring off prospects?

You don’t need to bring up the doom and gloom. People know what’s happening. They’re feeling it. Sellers should not avoid current downfalls of the market. Disregarding it all together will scare off prospects more. They will lose the trust of the buyer. The best way to navigate is to be upfront with your buyers and show how your product will help them during these times to make things easier. Address the fear and connect the dots with how you can help them through these times and how doing nothing could actually make things worse.

What question should all sellers be asking?

You should be talking to customers and asking them why they are staying with you. That becomes your messaging for your prospects. Now, when reaching out to prospects, you can say “We have X company staying with us because of Y reason.” Sellers should also be asking prospects that will show that they understand what they’re going through in this current market. Questions that build trust as you take them through the sales process.

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