Key to selling in a downturn

Posted by Adam Richardson - 24/05/2023

With the current global economic uncertainties, it is natural that companies are re-evaluating their spend, and ultimately looking to do more, with less – and a key step in this review for many Enterprises will be to reduce their spend on systems and products

So, as a SaaS company, how do you ensure that your product doesn’t fall on this ‘cull list’, when it comes to purchasing new software or renewal time? 

The key to selling in a downturn, (even more so than during more positive economic climates), is to tailor your messaging to show how you deliver to a company’s value drivers and how you solve their pain points. But you need to be aware how these will have changed. 

Whilst each company will have their own specific pain points, these can typically be categorised into one of the below drivers: 




Typically, during a downturn period, companies may refocus from concentrating on products which assist growth, and instead look at those which drive productivity and reduce risk. 

So, if you originally positioned your product on a revenue growth story, how can you reposition it to match the client’s new priorities? 

Whilst it is still important to tell a growth story about your product, ensuring you emphasise productivity and risk drivers will better help you address your customers’ pain points, and will help them see perhaps previously overlooked opportunities for productivity gains and reduction in levels of risk  


Examples of this change: 

1. Dev Tools Product 

Client’s Growth Driver: Building their product faster to generate more revenue.  

Now, consider instead focusing the sell on: 

Client’s Productivity Driver: Maximise the efficiency of the Developer team, to save cycles and allow them to build the product faster.  

Client's Risk Driver: The ability to ‘do more with less’ the company does not need to hire more Developers or else risk stunting their growth - and they may in turn retain more Developers as a result of having the correct product.  


2. MarTech Product 

Client’s Growth Driver: Building personalised experiences via the product, that delight new customers. 

Now, consider instead focusing your sell on: 

Client’s Productivity Driver: Again, the ability to ‘do more with less’ – the ability to contact more customers via automated, yet personalised, campaigns. 

Client’s Risk Driver: Building personalised experiences via your product, that reduce customer churn, whilst also keeping customer data safe and avoiding any data breaches.  


So, what are the actions for you and your team? 

  • With customers now looking to maximise the ROI on spend more than ever, how can you effectively communicate how your product will help customers do more, with less? Your customers will have multiple choices for investing, so how is your product going to give them the most value for their spend?  
  • Are the GTM team trained, so they are clear on the problems your product solves based on current challenges your customers are facing? Are they clear on this different positioning during a downturn period?  
  • Have you reviewed your Sales Playbook to ensure this messaging is being communicated consistently within your organisation? 


A book we would recommend for challenging the way customers think, is The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. The book discusses the importance of not just relationship building with a customer, but actively challenging them, as a way of driving loyalty and growth. 

Should you want more recommendations or support in hiring for your GTM team, please reach out to a member of the team here.  


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