Steering Through an Economic Downturn - Great Demo

Steering Through an Economic Downturn: The Urgency of Upskilling Your Workforce

steering through an economic downturn: the urgency of upskilling your workforce

In the midst of an economic downturn, organizations struggle with unstable business environments, precipitating budget cutbacks, workforce downsizing, and debilitating skill deficits. Even though addressing these matters through training and embracing innovative approaches should be done, skills development programs often face the initial brunt of budget reductions during these times.

However, committing to strategic training investments during recessions can deliver significant results, positioning companies for enhanced competitiveness and performance improvement.

During downturns, the business battleground persists. Companies that sustain or grow their training investments are more likely to enjoy a competitive edge, boasting a workforce primed to confront novel challenges and seize emerging opportunities.

Sales and presales teams, in particular, play a critical role in maintaining business operations, customer satisfaction, and driving revenue, particularly when resources are strained. So, it becomes increasingly vital for these teams to upskill, reskill, and fine-tune their processes and strategies to ensure your organization withstands the economic downturn and emerges stronger and more resilient.

Harnessing the Power of Skills Training Amid Economic Downturn

In periods of economic downturns, investing in skills training becomes an essential lifeline for businesses aspiring to thrive amidst turbulence. By prioritizing training and development initiatives, organizations can pave the way toward success and expansion, even in the face of challenging economic conditions.

Consider the following benefits of committing funds for training and development initiatives during an economic downturn:

  1. Augmented Productivity and Efficiency

    Training programs, like Great Demo! and Doing Discovery, provide the necessary platforms and methodologies for employees to bolster their skills and approaches, leading to substantial enhancements in productivity and efficiency. Evidence suggests that employees who receive regular training tend to deliver superior performance, leading to increased productivity and decreased absenteeism.
    For instance, highly engaged employees who have undergone training reportedly took 41% fewer sick days and augmented their productivity by 17% (source: Gallup).  Further considerations from our own research report significant increases in close rates, reduced sales cycle times, and refocused efforts on the right deals, dramatically reducing sales opportunities lost to ‘No Decision.

  2. Superior Customer Engagement

    By channeling investments into employee training, businesses essentially are investing in their customers. Career advancement opportunities and training stimulate employee engagement, which directly correlates with improved customer engagement.
    Teams demonstrating high engagement levels consistently outperform their less-engaged peers, yielding 22% higher profitability and registering a 21% uptick in productivity (source: Gallup). Researcher Bob Nelson underscores the sequence: training leads to engagement, engagement leads to customer satisfaction, and customer satisfaction ultimately cultivates loyalty (source: Inc.).

  3. Higher Long-Term ROI

    While the immediate financial outlay of training could raise concerns, research consistently shows that skills and methodology training investments provide a higher return on investment (ROI) in the long term. Companies with well-structured training programs report 24% higher profit margins and 218% higher revenue per employee. Moreover, for every $680 increase in training expenditure per employee, the Total Shareholder Return (TSR) saw a six-percentage point improvement the following year (source: Business Training Experts).

  4. Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Learning

    To attract and retain top-tier talent, organizations must engender a culture of ongoing learning and growth. The new generation of leaders actively seeks coaching and feedback, with 30% expressing a desire for more support (source: DDI World). Impressively, a vast majority of working adults (88%) express their willingness to partake in learning and development programs, if offered the opportunity, resulting in the benefits above (source: Randstad).

Training as a Strategic Imperative

Economic downturns force businesses to recalibrate their strategic outlook. But the uncertainty on which factors to focus on can leave many leaders in confusion regarding the best course of action. Herein lies the significance of training.

In a faltering economy, adopting a more strategic approach enables businesses to navigate uncertainty and discern growth opportunities. Integrating training as part of this strategy empowers organizations to prime themselves for long-term success and expansion in a dynamically evolving business landscape.

Furthermore, ongoing training opportunities significantly contribute to employee satisfaction and loyalty. A remarkable 76% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training opportunities (source: TalentLMS). By investing in their professional growth, organizations not only nurture their sales teams but also foster a culture of growth, innovation, and success. This is hugely important after a workforce downsizing when your remaining top talent is critical to the success of your operations.

However, the challenge still lies in identifying where to focus efforts and how to adapt effectively. This is where training serves a crucial function as a strategic investment.

  1. Future-Proofing the Sales Team

    Forbes advocates prioritizing workforce transformation to enhance employees’ capacity to manage change and gain the skills needed to navigate emerging processes and technologies. By investing in training, businesses ensure their sales teams are equipped with the most effective current knowledge and skills to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving marketplace (source: Forbes).  This is where Great Demo! and Doing Discovery shines, providing a near-immediate transformation of sales and support processes based on proven best practices.

  2. Securing a Competitive Advantage

    In a challenging marketplace, training provides a means to differentiate your organization from the competition. Through substantive upskilling and keeping abreast with industry trends, sales professionals can provide unique value propositions, compelling customer experiences, and differentiated solutions. Training empowers teams to identify opportunities amidst crises, explore new possibilities, and position themselves as industry frontrunners.

  3. Retaining Your Top Performers

    Nurturing and retaining top talent is pivotal for long-term success. Companies boasting robust learning cultures enjoy a 30-50% increase in retention rates. Millennials, in particular, place a high emphasis on career training and development, with 86% stating that it would deter them from leaving their current positions. LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Report further underscores the correlation between employee training and reduced attrition, with companies rated high on training experiencing 53% lower attrition rates (sources: Lorman, PR Newswire, LinkedIn).

  4. Identifying Opportunities Amidst Crisis

    During economic downturns, training enables teams to utilize their skills and knowledge to uncover new possibilities. By enhancing problem-solving capabilities, fostering creativity, investing in proactive client discovery, and encouraging innovative thinking, businesses can adapt to changing market dynamics, identify unique client critical business issues and identify untapped and often overlooked opportunities for growth with an existing and established client base.

Navigating Challenges and Objections

Many leaders find it challenging to articulate the benefits of investing in training. Consider the following:

  1. Budget Constraints

    Convincing stakeholders about the benefits of training investment is critical. Consider alternatives to completely discontinuing L&D, such as refining existing programs or seeking ways to achieve more with less.  An investment in a Great Demo! and Doing Discovery is another way to redirect L&D budgets to proven methodologies that dramatically increase productivity.

  2. Aligning Training with Business Goals

    Tailor programs to meet specific needs. Strategies for successful integration and application are vital for ensuring the adoption and implementation of the training programs.

  3. Illustrating Success

    Sharing real-life examples of the impact of training is an effective way to illustrate success. Case studies and testimonials showcasing the positive outcomes of skills training, specific results achieved, and lessons learned can be persuasive tools. As an example, many of our clients often report that the best sales quarters they have had to date were the quarters following Great Demo! training.

To summarize, investing in proven methodologies such as Great Demo! and Doing Discovery can provide substantial, tangible benefits to organizations, even in tough economic times. Through a hands-on, interactive approach, Great Demo! and Doing Discovery offer robust frameworks for improving discovery and demo skills, addressing challenges, and driving success.

The transformative impact of our workshops is evident in the numerous success stories of organizations that have adopted these methodologies. By investing in training, organizations can ensure their teams are well-equipped to navigate the challenges of an economic downturn and thrive.


About the Author

Paul H. Pearce has over 25 years of sales and executive leadership in Sales, Presales, Field Enablement, and Business Development.  As the first certified Great Demo! and Doing Discovery training partner, Paul has mastered the methodologies and today contributes to its ongoing success helping organizations dramatically increase sales and success.  As the President of Great Demo! LLC, Paul has consulted and trained hundreds of organizations and practitioners and recommends ways to increase sales and customer success through proven methodologies and real-world experience.

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