Nobody Has a Crystal Ball
The most prepared companies and sales teams come up on top. One important aspect of this is to educate ourselves on the latest economic predictions to best prepare. Regardless of what actualizes from those predictions, preparation and managing elements within our control will lead to success.
According to experts, the economy is facing a light recession in the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, we could be dealing with stagflation. A few key indicators: consumer consumption is continuing to grow, which we see in the leisure travel segment, and the latest reports show little sign of overall business fragility. But, at the same time, inflation is high, consumers are growing more pessimistic, and there is ongoing supply chain disruption. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of uncertainty and mixed signals, and nobody has a crystal ball. I met with the HSMAI Sales Advisory Board to talk about how sales leadership, in particular, is preparing teams and resources during these uncertain times.
Preparing for an Economic Downturn
The advisory board shared ways their companies were preparing for an economic downturn. The key takeaways:
- Customer conversations are critical right now to gain insights. Ask how the economy is impacting their business and how they are looking at business travel. There are no cookie-cutter answers, as many are hearing a surprising variety in responses.
- From these conversations, it’s clear that there is still a case for travel, but it varies based on business need and priority. Make the business case for travel. Share perspectives of why businesses are getting together in person.
- Focus on small and medium-size businesses that are most “back” to business travel.
- Identify industries and businesses that historically do well during an economic downturn and watch the signs throughout the next several months to determine which businesses are benefiting or which businesses have an apparent need to travel during this period.
- Prepare scenarios. Several leaders in the group discussed looking at a best-case, middle-of-the-road, and worst-case scenario. Being agile with planning is critical when there is so much volatility.
Lessons Learned from Past Downturns and How to Apply Them
The guidance for your team:
- Nobody knows demand generators more than the hotels themselves. Be sure teams are in conversation with customers in the backyard to understand how the economy is impacting.
- Review past customer reports and competitive market reports and evaluate which industries and customers are more at risk than others. Prioritize based on these insights.
- Now is the time to refine our sales skills. Every in-person meeting must have a higher value, and sales teams must be tuned into this.
- Put those enablement tools in play – utilize and improve current technology to maintain or increase margin. For example, use chatbots and automation for top-of-funnel engagement.
The idea that came up repeatedly is to focus on conversations with customers and potential customers. Understand who is traveling and what is important to them in their businesses today. To keep a strong pulse on this, the effort must be consistent.
Amy Infante, Founder & CEO at GitGo, HSMAI Sales Advisory Board Member