How to keep your sales team motivated during an economic downturn

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Veronika Belova
by Veronika Belova

2 Min. Read

How to motivate sales teams: Keep yourself and your team in check when things get tough

Sales is an industry that has its ups and downs, much like the economy in general. And when a recession hits, many sectors, including sales, can be stressful for both employees and managers. In fact, even when things are going great, a high-pressure, high-stakes sales environment can be overwhelming.

As a manager, it’s your job to guide your team and drive sales when things are going amazingly well, just okay, or pretty rough. During a recession, things like tight budgets, layoffs, and added pressure for success can take a real toll on your team. You are wondering how to motivate sales teams? Keep reading!

We get it, and we’ve got you: Here’s how you can stay sane and continue to support your team in all the right ways to keep everyone healthy, happy, and efficient, even during a recession.


F‍ind below 9 ways to motivate sales teams during an economic downturn:

1. Recognize the needs of yourself and your team

With so many people working from home, work-life balance is harder to manage. And as a manager, you might not realize when your employees are struggling. Your team may feel especially overworked during an economic downturn, with fear of layoffs, anxiety about inflation, or simply overwhelmed with dread and nerves.

As a manager, you may also feel some of these emotions. The first step to motivate sales teams is recognizing them — in yourself and your team. Keep an eye out for employees that seem exhausted, withdrawn, or unproductive. Before panicking about lost productivity, it’s crucial to understand why an employee may be struggling.

2. Listen and stay empathetic

So you know an employee is having a difficult time amid a recession. Step one? Don’t freak out. Yes, it can be frustrating when you know productivity is down, and money may be lost, but it’s important to understand what’s happening.

How and why is your employee being unproductive? Are they overworked? Are they dealing with personal struggles? Financial woes? Make sure your employees know that they can speak to you about whatever is happening and that you’re open to helping.

3. Place importance on work-life balance

You may be able to avoid additional stress for your employees and yourself by placing an essential focus on work-life balance. If your employees never see you take a vacation or notice that you’re emailing on weekends, this may make them feel like they can’t take a break or must be available 24/7. This can take a toll on everyone’s mental health.

A part of motivate sales teams is setting an example and encouraging your employees to enjoy their free time, take time off, and spend time with family and friends is important to everyone’s mental health. Less pressure, more leisure is key. Give it a try!

Offering employee-focused benefits like gym memberships, company yoga classes, and team-building events can contribute to bettering the health and well-being of everyone. Stay balanced and fearless by example, and your employees will too.

4. Keep a strong line of communication – stay approachable

If employees don’t feel like they can approach you and tell you what’s going on, it may be challenging to ensure your team is happy and healthy.

Create open office hours, or encourage employees to be upfront about whatever they’re dealing with professionally and personally. And when they do come to you, stay calm, listen, and be empathetic, as we suggested above.

If you want to motivate sales teams: be honest. Tell employees that recessions mean tough times ahead, and let them know you’re there for them. Then, put your money where your mouth is, and make sure that when they need you, you’re there. Stay positive, be patient, and seek external help when needed in order to best support your team.

5. Consider employee feedback

If or when employees tell you about pain points, both personal and professional, just listening is not enough. You need to take them into consideration and try to solve them. Are you providing enough resources for your team? Do you have the capacity to help? If not, find a way to get into the right place mentally to not just support your employees but also provide solutions.

If an employee comes to you about not having enough personal time, come up with a plan to ensure their weekends are offline. If an employee is struggling with prospecting or moving a customer through the sales pipeline, consider sitting in on a meeting or coming up with a new strategy (more on this below).

manager putting in place tips about how to motivate sales teams

6. Implement analytics in sales to determine focus points so your team can prioritize tasks

Analytics can help you and your team draw conclusions and patterns based on customer and prospects’ behavior. This can be especially important in a recession when budget cuts and new pain points can change clients’ needs.

Using sales analytics, you can create a selling strategy focusing on the right prospects and products to best serve customers when their habits have changed. Running frequent analytics can help as their behavior may continue to ebb and flow as inflation and economic uncertainty increase.

As a manager, ensure you understand what these analytics mean and how to use this data to create the best strategies and resources for your team.

7. Provide your team with useful organizational strategies and time-saving tools

Trying to motivate sales teams? Bear in mind that, the more resources you provide, the better the workflow will be, and employees can focus on selling and not all the little details, keeping them calm, collected, and happy.

Make proper use of your CRM, calendar, reports, analytics, and group meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page and stays organized. Tools like Surfe, which can save employees time, Notion, which can help with planning and organization, and proper data and email management tools can really help with keeping everyone on track.

Although new tools may be expensive, when sales output increases and salespeople are happy, the whole team — and the company — benefits.

8. Set clear KPIs and realistic goals for your team

Goals and KPIs may need to be modified during a recession as customer habits change. Analyzing data can help you understand where and how things might need to be reworked or refocused.

And it’s not always bad news. Sometimes, getting new clients during a recession is easier, as people are looking for more personalized solutions or dealing with reduced budgets and need to find the right product for the right price. Understanding how you need to refocus and setting adjusted and realistic goals for your team ensures they can meet these goals. Unmeetable goals can frustrate, overwhelm, and stress out employees, so adjusting things during a recession is essential.

9. Be the leader you wish you had to keep everyone in check

Whether you like it or not, you’re a manager, and that means employees look to you for guidance, structure, and support. Being in a leadership position isn’t always easy, but keeping the balance is key.

Set an example for your employees by staying calm, collected, and approachable. Use data and analytics to set realistic goals, with tools and organization to support your team in meeting those goals. Provide innovative solutions when your team needs them the most. A solid, unbreakable team can work through a recession and still come out on top, assuming they’ve got the right manager at the helm.


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