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APR 24, 2020 - 42 MIN

Sales Priorities in a Downturn with Tidelift’s Bridget Gleason and Chris Grams

  • Customer Success
  • Sales
  • Seasonal

Tidelift’s Bridget Gleason and Chris Grams outline what you can do to reset your sales priorities in a downturn to focus on high-impact activities.


In the current economic climate, the revenue team must find opportunities to continue to succeed as the market shifts and priorities and spending patterns change. It’s critical for team leaders to reevaluate sales priorities in a downturn to focus on activities that will most reliably maintain revenue in order.

In a recent session with Heavybit members, Tidelift’s developer sales leader Bridget Gleason and marketing executive Chris Grams outline what you should be doing today, tomorrow, and through the next quarter in order to preserve runway, source or salvage the right new deals, and get your entire organization aligned around the right revenue goals and activities.

Watch the recording of their session below, and read on to learn our key takeaways from the session:

Target industries and companies that are winning

During any recession, there will be organizations and industries that benefit from how the economy is changing, and organizations that suffer more than others. Right now, Bridget and Chris point out, collaboration software, ecommerce, and logistics and delivery companies are thriving. While you may have focused sales initiatives on certain verticals in the past, it’s time to reevaluate your target markets to focus on prospects who will have the budget and mindset to invest in new products.

Don’t neglect to evaluate companies on a case-by-case basis in industries that have been hard hit. A company that has recently raised a round of funding, for instance, might still be worth reaching out to.

Concentrate on fewer, better leads

As teams prepare to ride out a recession, resources are tight and every sales conversation matters. In addition to targeting the right industry, make sure you’re targeting the right individual leads. Bridget recommends focusing on fewer, better leads to maximize the impact of your sales activities. Leaning into your network to find high-quality leads and taking the time to properly qualify and evaluate leads before your sales team invests time in them is essential.

Bridget also recommends making some changes to how you’re talking to your prospects. “Focus on education, not promotion,” she says. “If you send them a lot of junk, you’re training them to ignore you.” Avoid using automated email templates, and take the time to customize your messaging for every prospect.

Rethink your positioning

No matter what their role or industry, the needs, priorities, and budgets of your target market are likely changing. As a result, the positioning that resonated with them before might not work as well now.

Chris notes that within both industries that are winning and those that are struggling right now, there will be specific initiatives that represent opportunities for your business. For example, automation initiatives are top-of-mind for many businesses, as budgets and team sizes decrease.

Look for ways that your product solves a problem that gets worse in a recession, and adjust your positioning to address that problem. A key part of this getting right is to get in touch with the people who are experiencing that problem right now to truly understand what their pain points and needs are.

Optimize lead generation activities for the new normal

As with your positioning, the lead generation channels that your team has relied on in the past might not work as well during an economic downturn. In the case of live events, they might not be possible. Look channels that are still active and for conversations that you can be a part of. Many teams have been writing about the new normal of working from home, adjusting to asynchronous collaboration and moving real-life events like meetups to digital spaces. What’s important is to think about how your team can offer a unique and valuable perspective to the conversation.

Partnerships can be especially powerful as you shift your focus to new verticals; look for people and organizations that are already entrenched in spaces you’d like to be a part of. Partner with other organizations that do have money, or combine your budgets (and audiences) to increase your reach together.

Learn More about Sales Priorities in a Downturn

We’ll be releasing more from our session on sales priorities in a downturn with Bridget and Chris next week. In the meantime, check out the Heavybit Library for additional content on early stage sales priorities and more.