B2B Sales in Economic Uncertainty: How to Solve for This Year's Biggest Sales Challenges

By RED BEAR February 23, 2023 | 6 min read

A lack of confidence undermines negotiations. This is true in any economy, but especially true when sales leaders and reps are operating in uncertain times like these.

How do you plan to solve this year’s biggest sales challenges?

First, you must understand the state of the economy and the precise nature of the challenges your sales reps face. Then, you must create a proactive plan that will sustain the business and the people winning business, regardless of factors that continue to be uncertain.

Looking to build a team of resilient, confident sales reps? RED BEAR has unrivaled negotiation training, and we can prove it. Head here to learn more.

The State of the U.S. Economy

In 2023, the state of the U.S. economy can be aptly summarized with the headline “Uncertainty Prevails.”

Interest rates are high, gross domestic products in negative growth, home prices falling, and there is general slowdown all-around. In a recent poll, economists forecast a 64% chance of economic contraction. Some publications report that number nearer to 70%. Analysts have laid out a pessimistic forecast, with these trends unlikely to reverse in the near-term.

Additional Global Considerations

Beyond our borders, global considerations factor in as well: geopolitical conflicts, supply chain issues, and complex dynamics between world powers and lawmakers create uncertainty on a worldwide scale.

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Economy-Related B2B Sales Challenges

What does all of this mean for business to business (B2B) sales? It means that reps are facing challenges on all fronts.

Downstream — When entire world economies are rife with uncertainty, it creates a downstream pressure for businesses (and those trying to sell in those businesses). A single piece of legislation can send shockwaves through the supply chain; a single conflict can halt deals in motion; the surge in M&A is fundamentally changing business growth trajectories. The resulting uncertainty creates hesitation in deals, which means that sales reps must learn to handle real and reasonable pushback and objections.

It’s a lot of pressure and it's not the only kind.

Upstream — The upstream pressure businesses face is created by anxious consumers. As news about recession probabilities perpetuates, buyers themselves become skittish. For businesses that create consumer goods and services, this volatility is salient, and may impact their own purchasing patterns and budget planning.  

From both directions, sales reps are up against the tangible and intangible repercussions of economic uncertainty.

This manifests in at least three specific ways:

1.) Getting a Meeting

From the get-go, things are slow as businesses may be unwilling to nail down budget numbers or be as conservative as possible to hedge against the unknown.

Pair that with the growing stigma around sales reps and the ability to even get a meeting is fraught with challenges.

In some arenas, an added layer of numerous stakeholders, approval processes, rate of leadership turnover, and more can make it almost impossible to find and meet with the right person in a timely manner.

What’s the solution?

  • Sales reps must start providing value from day one. Taking an expert stance, having a meaningful perspective, and being a good communicator are qualities of skilled prospecting.
  • Brand building and reputation is more important than ever, with prospects able to quickly dismiss a candidate based even on a passing impression.

It’s important to note that both of these factors will also come into play once the engagement moves along and (hopefully) lands in negotiation.

To see how value can be created early on, read this case study.

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2.) Longer Sales Cycles

More stakeholders and more uncertainty often translates into lengthier sales cycles. This has vast implications for businesses. The attendant cost of a long sales cycle is burdensome.

Winning sales cycles used to follow a predictable pattern. Now, using negotiating factors like urgency and FOMO may kill the deal altogether. It’s an incredibly delicate, context-specific balancing act that reps need to master to maintain deal velocity without an unendurable wait.

What’s the solution?

  • First, reps must be agile. It’s likely there will be a wait, especially for big ticket deals. They must maintain perspective, adapting without functionally giving up.
  • Second, they must master negotiation. They are under a lot of pressure themselves, but must transfer the right pressure to the negotiation table and deal-making conversations. It’s vital they understand what the right pressure points are and skillfully negotiate to keep the deal in motion.

3.) Buyer Resistance and Objections

For anyone in B2B sales in economic uncertainty, resistance and objections are on the rise. It’s human nature for buyers to ask more questions, be more skeptical, and push back a little harder.

It’s up to a skilled sales rep and negotiator to not just neutralize those objections, but to maintain the human touch at all costs.

People are still people. When driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt, those people need even better handling.

What’s the solution?

  • Reps must take objections seriously, knowing in advance that they will encounter resistance, and be properly equipped to know what to do about it.
  • In these efforts, reps need to upskill. Those who were great at simple objection handling five years ago may not be best prepared for the level of sophistication buyers are bringing to the table these days. Today’s buyers are armed with immense amounts of research and plenty of options. That, coupled with uncertainty about big financial decisions, could be a recipe for disaster.

Unless reps have the skills they need to succeed.

Be Bold with RED BEAR: Prep Your B2B Sales Reps, Regardless of Economic Uncertainty

At RED BEAR, we aren’t afraid of economic uncertainty. Nor do we think that sales reps are doomed to be in the weeds haggling minutiae in interminable sales cycles until the economy recovers.

Right now — today — they can be empowered to excel.

It’s what we do best.

As a business leader, the most strategic investment you can make in this economy is in your people. You can choose to prioritize the people who are on the ground doing the representing and communicating and deal making.

RED BEAR negotiation training provides measurable bottom-line results (which are validated through a third-party, independent comprehensive ROI study). Our tried and true processes are executed in a proprietary methodology. In short: you won’t find anything quite like this anywhere else.

That distinction is one that could be game-changing for your reps. Let us show you how it works: 

Connect With The RED BEAR Team Today

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Up next: Read — B2B Buyer Behavior Has Changed and it is Shifting Dynamics at the Negotiation Table

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