You’ve likely heard news reports of a potential recession in 2023. Some economists believe it’s already here, as inflation is through the roof and companies have begun major employee layoffs.
The federal government has stepped in to cool down a hot economy, raising interest rates several times during 2022. Those interest rate increases will make it more difficult and expensive for consumers and businesses to borrow money. As a result, many will look for ways to cut costs and preserve their cash.
Aside from the need to cut expenses, many businesses will likely see revenue streams decline. Declines in revenue can be catastrophic for organizations without much to show in their bank accounts and make it more difficult to meet necessary costs like payroll and debt payments.
While the CFOs and CEOs will largely be responsible for maintaining the financial security of their organizations throughout the economic downturn, the CROs will play a vital role, too. The current trends expected to unfold in 2023 will create high demand for talented CROs who can effectively adapt to a challenging landscape.
During a recession, the first teams to see reductions to their budgets are typically sales and marketing.
Marketing is a bit of a luxury; companies don’t want to open their wallets for expensive advertising campaigns that customers won’t buy into. This fact is especially true for organizations that aren’t considered recession-proof, like retail stores, real estate, hospitality, and restaurants.
Lack of advertising dollars will hit other organizations providing a marketing platform, such as social media companies, internet search giants, and television channels.
Companies seeking to reduce their marketing budgets may seek to eliminate non-essential roles in their sales departments. For instance, instead of hiring a CMO and a VP of Sales, they may choose to have a single position that handles the duties of both roles.
Similarly, sales agents may take on additional duties typically handled by marketing analysts or vice versa.
If you’re the CRO of a company that isn’t particularly recession-proof, you’ll want to identify ways to cut costs in your department that won’t hamper business continuity. For instance, you could place a hiring freeze on your departments. If professionals leave, you must assign their duties to the remaining employees.
It’s generally best to avoid layoffs unless they are absolutely necessary. Layoffs hurt employee morale, and those left behind following a mass exodus may fear their jobs will be on the line next. Instead, explore other cost-saving options with the help of the CEO and CFO. You can also ask your senior marketing and revenue teams for their input.
Before making significant changes to your organization’s marketing budget, you’ll want a clear understanding of your team’s inner and outer operations. The best way to gain the insights you need is through helpful analytics or key performance indicators (KPIs).
KPIs are available for just about every measure you can imagine. You can use them to measure the return on investment in a marketing campaign, your number of returning customers, and your team’s productivity.
Select a few KPIs that provide you with insights relevant to your department. Using data from relevant sources, review the results weekly or bi-weekly. Sometimes it’s helpful to calculate historical KPIs to show how revenue, marketing, or customers have changed.
The additional measurements can help you determine when to make a significant business decision, like eliminating a product line or increasing prices to sustain your company’s sales numbers.
CROs should stay on top of crucial revenue and marketing metrics, especially as they navigate through a difficult economic period. Have a few strategies in mind, should you need to make changes to ensure the company remains competitive with its peers.
Now, more than ever, it’s essential to retain a loyal customer base. Returning customers will likely make up a large part of your sales, as new clients are less willing to take a risk on a company they’re unfamiliar with.
CROs can work with their customer experience teams to improve the post-purchase process with clients. They should be conscientious about ensuring that customers feel their needs were met with the company’s goods or products and that clients can contact them if they have questions or issues.
It’s essential to realize that the customer’s journey doesn’t end with purchasing a product. Companies must regularly reach out so that clients know of their new offerings. To entice customers to make another purchase, offering a discount code or other special benefit can keep the sales dollars rolling in.
In times of recession, companies often turn to new technology to make their departments run more smoothly. Technology can eliminate redundant tasks and lead to a leaner, more resilient workforce. It also improves the customer experience, making it easier to communicate with customers using personalized messaging.
Depending on a company’s industry, many automation options are available. For instance, organizations in the e-commerce industry can benefit from automated messages that indicate when a customer’s package is sent and delivered.
Other automation techniques include mass emails and texts concerning upcoming sales or special events.
Chatbots are also helpful for maximizing the customer experience. Clients can easily visit a company’s website and request help through a chatbot, rather than calling a toll-free number only to wait for long periods before reaching a live agent.
CROs should examine their sales and marketing departments to identify ways to implement automation. However, they can also seek help from other executives and senior IT leaders and from within their own departments. Greater team collaboration often yields better results, especially when implementing new technology.
The vote is still out on the potential for a recession in 2023.
However, CROs who prepare for the economic downturn by securing their customer base are more likely to ride through the storm successfully. CROs should:
Automation will likely drive the world in the coming years, and staying abreast of changes can help CROs adapt quickly.
Placing sales leaders that generate results means asking the right questions. That’s why every sales executive recruiter at Cowen Partners does a deep dive into each candidate’s history and experience. Shedding more light on our approach, we’ve shared the key questions our sales executive recruiters use to start conversations, along with what we look for in candidates’ answers, to find the right fit for your role.
You want your sales leader to adapt their experience to your market. Asking them to explain how they’d adjust to the change in the market, we can see how they’ll use their experience to develop new methods or if they will rely on old ones not fit to your needs. This question also ensures they have the right experience with the software, methods, and best practices for your industry — whether that be CPG and manufacturing, sports and entertainment, real estate, or anything else.
Every market is different. That means you can’t hire the same salesperson for every type of company. This question lets us see if your candidate will adapt to your needs or settle for hiring what they already know and are comfortable with.
Your leader will need to structure the sales team’s compensation plan. You want a sales leader who can set standards that match company expectations with what you plan to offer. This question lets us find if a candidate will do what they’ve done before or if they’ll structure the sales process and strategies to fit your demands and needs.
Great sales executives all share key traits. Here’s what we look for to identify not only those key traits, but what type of culture and company their talent is fit for.
Finding the right demand generation executive means asking the right questions. Here are the demand gen interview questions we use when building your candidate list.
We’re sharing these so you understand what our demand generation recruiters consider as we create your candidate list. We invite you to review and use them as you are searching for and screening your next demand generation executive.
Beyond those interview questions, here are some key qualities our demand generation recruiters look for to find the top 1% of talent for our clients:
Our hands-on sales executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and include vice president, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
Check out our industry-leading retained search resources to see why Cowen Partners is a top sales and marketing executive search firm in New York City, Anchorage, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond: