Economies grow and shrink over time. None goes straight up without retracing some of the ground already covered. Two negative quarters qualifies as a recession and, from time to time, this is what happens. Given a long enough timeline, there will be a recession. Below are a few things you can do to prepare.
Mindset: You Are a Sales Organization
The most debilitating mindset for a company is to believe that they are something other than a sales organization. Peter Drucker said that a business exists to create a customer, leaving little else to say. That means customer acquisition is paramount.
Maybe you believe you are a manufacturer. Perhaps you think you are a service organization. It could be that you feel you are in the business of doing whatever it is that you do that creates value for others. The truth of the matter is that you are a sales organization that happens to be a manufacturer, or a service provider, or whatever it is you do.
Believing that selling is necessary but not why your business exists will not serve you well in a downturn.
Skill Sets: Opportunity Creation and Opportunity Capture
Selling is made up of two primary outcomes: opportunity creation and opportunity capture. There is never a time where any business should not be laser-focused on opportunity creation. But leading up to an expected downturn, one should be devoting an out-sized effort towards creating many new opportunities (even though I would argue you should create the maximum number of opportunities possible, rain or shine).
In a downturn, initiatives get pushed. Priorities change. Leaders hesitate to make decisions. You need more opportunities than you believe you need, and without a focus on opportunity creation, there can be no opportunity capture.
Leadership: Set the Tempo and Maintain a Culture of Accountability
The leader sets the pace. The speed of the team is the speed of the leader. Tempo and velocity are critical. You want to compress time, pulling results towards you.
Too many companies struggle with accountability now, and deciding to impose accountability during a downturn—when things are tougher than usual—isn’t the right time to start an accountability initiative. It’s reactionary and event-driven, and it can cause people to believe that “this will pass.” A culture of accountability is an advantage in a downturn.
Territory and account plans, pipeline meetings, opportunity reviews, and cadence and tempo will sustain you and provide an advantage in a downturn, and you should build these accountabilities before you wish you’d have put them in place.
If you are going to be recession-proof, you have to start now (if not sooner).