The other day, I read a LinkedIn post written by Manny Medina, CEO of Outreach, that aligns with many of the topics we’ve been discussing internally and with our customers - Are we entering a slowdown and what should we do?
“The question many CEOs got in Q1 was whether we are seeing any softening or shifts in demand in the market. Whether you are or not, perception is reality.” Manny Medina, CEO of Outreach
As a start-up founder, CEO and investor, I agree with many of the points that Manny highlighted in his post. Whether or not we’re “technically” in a recession, the perception will influence people’s behaviors and buying decisions. As he advised:
- Use this time to become more efficient
- Hone in on how to recession-proof your GTM motion
- Use this opportunity to become a “diamond”
Ultimately, preparation and investment are our best tools to ensure continuity and growth over the coming months. How? Here are my thoughts:
Focus Maniacally on Customers
“70-80% of B2B decision-makers prefer remote hiring interactions or digital self-service.” McKinsey & Company, October 2020
We’ve written in the past about the changing B2B buying expectations from customers - both new and existing. According to McKinsey & Company, nearly 80% of B2B decision makers prefer digital buying interactions.
Yet, we’re still trying to sell with in-person in mind - calls, meetings, and handshakes. The old way of B2B selling is broken.
At Enable Us, that’s our focus - to create buyer-centric experiences that delight buyers and customers. This means:
- Personalizing content to the customer’s needs
- Provide a single link to view this content at their leisure - and they can easily share with colleagues
- Make it easy for you and your buyers to have full visibility into the buying process (e.g. mutual action plans) and communicate without digging through your mail inbox or CRM
Invest in Sales and Marketing Technology
As Manny wrote, “Invest in technology that helps you drive revenue outcomes.”
Many times, the temptation is to cut back on spending, especially on your sales and marketing tech stack. This is a mistake. Rather, evaluate which technology investments can significantly impact your bottom line revenue goals. Ask yourself:
- Will this accelerate my sales velocity?
- Will this reduce my sales team’s time to productivity?
- Will this close more deals?
- How will this save my sales and marketing team time (aka, to focus on revenue activities)?
Customers have told me, by using Enable Us’ sales enablement platform and Digital Sales Room product, they can already demonstrate the ROI within weeks. All sales collateral is in one place. Teams are up and going in hours. And they can already see the impact on sales deals in terms of engagement and velocity.
"Invest in technology that helps you drive revenue outcomes." - Manny Medina, CEO of Outreach
I also see an opportunity at merging some of your disparate sales and marketing technology versus buying multiple point solutions. Here, we use HubSpot as our contact database and email marketing for sales and marketing.
The same is true with Enable Us, where many sales, marketing, and even customer success teams are using us as a single place for content management, customer reference management, mutual action plans, and more.
Measure. Measure. Then Measure Some More.
In my three start ups - a bootstrap, a venture-backed successfully sold to private equity, and current venture-backed - I’ve always had an eye toward profitability. Growing at any cost is not feasible.
From day one, while this wasn’t a point raised in Manny’s post, as a CEO, metrics do matter as they support a culture of profitability and accountability. Be prepared to answer these type of questions:
- How will you track the promised ROI against the results?
- What are the KPIs you’ll measure?
- When will you be able to begin reporting on these?
My recommendation is to evaluate this on two levels - short/near-term and long term:
- Identify “quick win” metrics, such as user adoption or prospect engagement, that can show immediate impact.
- Build out a dashboard that highlights the key ROI metrics, such as sales velocity, deals won, and content effectiveness.
Will You Break Under Pressure?
In order for your company to become a diamond under pressure, my experience is you need to have the right people to navigate through the ups and downs. The number 1 rule we have is don’t hire jerks. No Jerks. Period. This holds true during the boom times and downturns.
This ensures we have the right chemistry of people to weather through any situation.
Let me know what you think or recommendations you have.
Discover key tips and strategies to recession-proof your sales and marketing programs in our Sales and Marketing Playbook for Navigating the Impending Recession.