Sales Tips

Why People and Relationships Are Key For Sales in the Face of a Potential Recession

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October 25, 2022

4 mins read

people and relationships for sales during a recession feature

Why People and Relationships Are Key For Sales in the Face of a Potential Recession

Sales is eminently about human relationships, and sales leaders have always been skilled at fostering value-creating, sustaining relationships, not just with their customers but also internally with their teams. 

Top sales professionals succeed because they bring a deep understanding of human motivation and relationships to the table. 

Insights from Top Women in Sales

Let’s look at how a few of our 100 Most Powerful Women in Sales (1-50 / 51-100) do that, especially in uncertain times:

In tough times, it’s easy to make fear-based, rash moves, but instead you should be doubling down on the things that got you here: 1) people, 2) operating in line with your values, and 3) adapting to the new environment. We are laser focused on investing in our people’s skills, inputs, and engagement levels because we believe that’s what drives sustainable, long-term success. People over everything else. Dini Mehta, Lattice, Chief Revenue Officer

I focus on relationships: personal and deep connections with my clients. That means really listening to where they need support and clearing obstacles for them internally and externally. Chantel George, Sistas in Sales, Founder and CEO

Achieving our sales goals, regardless of economic climate, is all about being proactive vs. reactive. Think of what you can do now and for the long term, not what you should do as a result of short term issues. By being vocal and visible on platforms like LinkedIn, for example, we create a continuous stream of inbound demand. If we look to help those buyers –– even if it’s not selling our services to them –– they may become a new referral source, which continues to compound the inbound leads we have, again, regardless of climate. Sam McKenna, #samsales Consulting, Founder 

How can I support my team in a downturn? Simply by encouraging them to be more efficient with their time, be the most helpful in the room, and then create, duplicate, and retain success as much as possible Lilah Nielsen, Founding Member, Salescast (podcast) and SDR Nation

In good times and bad, the best salespeople gain trust and, ultimately, new business, when they solve for what the customer needs rather than simply selling what’s ‘on the truck.’Amy Slater, Genesys, Vice President, Global Strategic Technology Alliances

During an economic downturn, it becomes even more imperative to understand the strategic priorities of your customer or prospect. By doing so, you can connect your offering to what is truly important to them and help them justify their investment. Wendy Harris, Gong, Head of EMEA

Economic downturns are a huge opportunity to be even more human and personal with customers, to strengthen relationships. Set yourself apart in different ways such as using video and social selling, and listen even more to the challenges, pains, and goals your customers are working with. Andrea Bowers, AirDeck, Account Executive

Everyone is in the same storm, just on different boats. This is when I start reaching out to clients with an empathic heart to first know  how they are doing on a personal and business level, and then work to understand what major concerns they have to address their challenges head on. Some may even be looking for new ideas and opportunities that can help their organization stay recession-proof. 

I found that this is a great time to aggressively listen to my clients and map my product or solution to their needs showing the value benefits and ROI they would get to either save money or make them money. My sales cycles were longer for two reasons: 1) There were more decision-makers needed to sign off on the deal and 2) I offered more complimentary trials so that my clients were extremely confident in the solutions they were buying. Shawanda Roberts, Frost & Sullivan, Global Vice President of Sales & Marketing Activation


This is the first in a four-part blog series celebrating Women in Sales Month. We asked some of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Sales their thoughts on selling during an economic downturn. We gathered up all of their learnings and included them in our new eBook: Hard Times? Double Down! Top Women in Sales Reveal Their Secrets to Navigating a Downturn.

Coming up next: 

  • Planning for Sales Success While Facing an Economic Downturn? These Mindsets and Habits Can Help (Week of October 31st)
  • Looking for Ways to Do More with Less? We Asked Top Women in Sales to Share Their Strategies Ahead of the Downturn (Week of November 7th)
  • Powerful Women in Sales Share Their Values and Motivation To Navigating Headwinds (Week of November 14th)
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Justin Levy

Former Senior Director, Influencer Marketing & Head of Community, Demandbase

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