How Sales Leaders Win in the Turns

Thriving in times of economic uncertainty

Capitalizing on an economic turn in times of change

Economic cycles of expansion and contraction are an unpredictable reality. Untimely response to such turns can set up sales teams for failure. Winning CSOs ensure that they periodically assess the organization’s ability to respond to disruptions in the economy and develop a communication strategy to keep every part of the sales organization aligned on changes in strategy. 

70% of sales leaders express low confidence in their ability to translate strategy into action.

The most progressive heads of sales focus position their teams to take advantage of the opportunities that economic uncertainty and a downturn can create.

Brent Adamson

Distinguished VP, Advisory, Gartner

Cost management as a long-term strategy, not just a short-term margin play

During turns, sales leaders’ first instincts are to stop discretionary spending, lay off staff, reduce training and cut capital investments. A poor balance between revenue generation and cost-effectiveness can put sales growth at risk or drive up the cost of sales. The key to the problem is to get ahead of difficult cost management decisions and explore cost-optimization strategies that focus on long-term, productivity-oriented investments. 

A bar graph displaying the spectrum of cost cutting into cost management.

Developing sales teams to outperform in a turn

Skilled sellers who operate in a team climate characterized by high levels of autonomy, collaboration and creativity are 15% more likely to stay with an organization. As organizations become prone to uncertain conditions, they risk losing their best talent by hampering seller creativity and innovation in individual deals. CSOs should proactively develop a strategy for talent management that encourages managers to train in a way that promotes recession-proof skills and maximizes retention of high-performing sellers. 

Skilled sellers who operate in a team climate characterized by high levels of autonomy, collaboration and creativity are 15% more likely to stay with an organization.

Insights you can use

The current environment is creating another turn for companies to pass through, and another moment in which winners and losers may be distinctly separated. Gartner’s strategic account management insights, advice and tools help sales organizations to take advantage of the opportunities that economic uncertainty and a downturn can create. 

How CSOs can capitalize on a possible economic slowdown

How are heads of sales strategizing and leading their teams during this change? Learn strategies for how you can tighten an already tight budget and still hit top- and bottom-line targets to achieve efficient growth. 

Insight illustration displaying the "Reactive decision death spiral".
The Vicious Cycle of Short-Term Cost-Cutting Measures: Decrease in revenue leads to Budget cuts, which leads to Short-term cost cuts, which leads to Unintended consequences, which leads to Decrease in revenue.

Acing the art of cost management while maintaining sales effectiveness

Heads of sales who are under pressure to cut costs often turn to “quick wins.” Although these decisions can save money in the short term, they can inhibit sales organizations in the long term. Discover cost optimization alternatives to common tactics to cut costs.

Effectively prepare and navigate economic turns

“Should I be doing anything now to prepare my sales team for an economic downturn?” This is a question heads of sales are starting to ask themselves as they see their sales organizations operating in a seemingly uncertain economic environment. Discover how you can make your organization a critical supplier during tougher economic times.

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How Gartner supports account management

Brian Jacowitz, Vice President of Enterprise Sales at Black Box, shares how Gartner supports him and his team through the account planning process.

Gartner topic experts

Gartner's sales experts support a range of activities around key account management. Meet a few of our leaders.

Matt Dudek headshot

Brent Adamson
Distinguished VP, Advisory
Tom Cosgrove headshot

Maria Boulden
VP, Executive Partner
Brent Adamson headshot

Scott Collins
VP, Team Manager

Tom Cosgrove
Sr Director, Advisory

Dave Egloff
Sr Director Analyst

Liam Kelly
Sr Director, Advisory
Scott Collins headshot

Danielle McKinley
Director, Advisory

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