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Motivating Your Sales Team During an Economic Downturn

  • Nov 2, 2022
  • 2 minutes

We know that even for the savviest of sales leaders, and at the best of times, managing a team is a demanding task. And it’s not an understatement to say that in the current financial climate, we’re not really living in the best of times.

Motivation in a team can be at an all-time low when there are threats of budget cuts and layoffs. Even if neither situation directly applies to your business, the cost of living means that people might be personally feeling the pinch.

So is it possible to keep your team engaged and motivated, and to get through a downturn on the side of thrivin’, not just surviving? We’re so glad you asked.

1. Communication is KEY

Of course you know that effective communication is crucial. It wins confidence, it allows you to forge strong and healthy relationships, and it helps you seal the deal.

So why not consider using the same approach when dealing with your team?

Rather than pretending that everything is business as usual, or refusing to entertain any of your team’s concerns, acknowledge and own the situation. Trust is the foundation of any strong, high-performing team, and this is the perfect time to soothe worries and articulate your expectations. When your team trusts you, they’re more likely to buy into what you’re trying to achieve, even when times are tough.

When sales wins might be lower than usual, talking to your team is a great way to boost morale and ensure that everybody is on the same page. So be open, stay positive, and allow your team to connect with you on a human level.

2. Build the team you need

Challenging as it might be to admit, downturns are an inevitable part of doing business. So learning to ride them is a vital skill to have – that way, when things start to look more promising, you’re in the perfect place to reap the rewards.

Consider taking the time to increase your team’s training and coaching schedule (and if you don’t have one, introduce one). Skills such as negotiations, objection handling, prospecting and referrals, and product training always benefit from honing. The good news is, this doesn’t have to be an expensive move.

Got a senior rep who’s a hot shot at prospecting? Create training where they can share their experience and field questions from other team members. Or run cross-departmental sessions with CS or product to ensure your reps fully understand and advance your value proposition. (Of course, there are also coaching and training platforms that can help your team self-coach and improve their skills.)

Investing time and energy in your team with training doesn’t just improve the overall performance of your group, but is also proven to boost morale and increase employee retention.

3. Don't forget the little things

We’re preaching to the choir, but we know that working in sales isn’t easy. So when your team isn’t enjoying the same level of closed deals, people can easily become demoralized.

The power of small wins is a recognised principle for driving team engagement and should be a priority for keeping everyone on an even keel. People want recognition, so this is a great time to encourage that.

Consider setting up wins for your team, like a sales performance incentive fund (or SPIFF). Slightly different to a bonus, a SPIFF doesn’t need to be a monetary thing - you could consider offering a one-on-one with company leadership, or picking a place for a team-building social.

You can also make sure to acknowledge your team’s performance and praise those who are performing well. Think about ways you can share best practices internally, celebrate victories and wins, and create recognition for those who are going above and beyond. Bleaker times in the world are the perfect way to showcase how resilient your team is.


Uncertainty is inevitable in any industry, and it looks like we might be in for more upheaval over the next 18 months. Rather than sticking your head in the sand, it’s time to reconsider and recalibrate your approach to the new normal and build habits now that will help your team in the long run.


Times feeling really tough? Find out how to maintain sales momentum in tricky markets.

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