Digital Sales & Marketing
Digital Sales & Marketing
Close

Free digital sales and marketing courses

Immediately start seeing better digital sales and marketing results with dozens (and counting) of free online courses inside IMPACT+.

View all free coursesView all free courses

Digital Sales & Marketing World 2021

The premier, hybrid event for growth-focused business leaders, digital marketers, and sales pros. Virtual passes are free for IMPACT+ Pro members. In-person passes on sale soon.

Learn moreLearn more Watch past events on demandWatch past events on demand

Digital sales and marketing services

Discover the full array of IMPACT services, including inbound marketing training, web design, paid media management, and more.

Learn moreLearn more
They Ask, You Answer
They Ask, You Answer
Close

Free They Ask, You Answer course

Learn the principles of the They Ask, You Answer by taking our most popular course, taught by Marcus Sheridan himself.

Take the course nowTake the course now

Hire a coach

Turn your company into a high-performing digital organization with our flagship coaching program, Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery.

Learn moreLearn more

Case studies

See dozens of examples of companies succeeding with Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery and They Ask, You Answer.

View case studiesView case studies

They Ask, You Answer, the book

“One of the 11 Marketing Books every CMO should read.” — Forbes

Learn moreLearn more Buy the bookBuy the book
Virtual Selling
Virtual Selling
Close

Virtual Selling Mastery

Equip your sales team with proven methods to connect with today’s buyer, shorten the sales cycle, and close more deals, faster.

Learn moreLearn more

Virtual Selling Summit 2021

Your one-day virtual selling crash course! Today, sales reps are struggling to sell remotely. Learn how to close more deals in a virtual world.

Register NowRegister Now
Video
Video
Close

Free video sales and marketing strategy course

Zach Basner teaches you the fundamentals of making video for sales and marketing work inside your organization.

Take the course nowTake the course now

Video Sales and Marketing World 2021

Video Sales & Marketing World 2021 is in the works. In the meantime, enjoy the 2020 event on-demand - free for IMPACT+ Pro Members.

Watch past events on demandWatch past events on demand

The Visual Sale, the book

Learn how to use video to ignite sales, accelerate marketing, and grow your business in a virtual world in this book from Marcus Sheridan and Vidyard’s Tyler Lessard.

Learn moreLearn more Buy the bookBuy the book

Master video inside your organization

Video is a critical component of any high-performing digital sales and marketing program, and is a key part of Digital Sales and Marketing Mastery.

Learn moreLearn more
HubSpot
HubSpot
Close

Free HubSpot sales and marketing courses

Taught by Carina Duffy, IMPACT’s lead HubSpot trainer.

Marketing automation mastery (with HubSpot workflows)Marketing automation mastery (with HubSpot workflows) Inbound lead generation and conversion optimizationInbound lead generation and conversion optimization Getting started with sales technologyGetting started with sales technology

HubSpot Training Day

Following INBOUND 2020, IMPACT and HubSpot co-hosted a full-day of deep dive sessions to help HubSpot users get the most out of the new features fast! On-demand access is free for IMPACT+ Pro Members.

Watch on-demandWatch on-demand

HubSpot training and implementation

Maximize your investment in HubSpot's marketing, sales, or service platforms with guided training and implementation services.

Learn moreLearn more
Web Design
Web Design
Close

Website Optimization Summit

Learn how you may be unwittingly undermining the money-making potential of your website and how to fix it! Watch the opening keynote for free on-demand inside IMPACT+.

Watch on-demandWatch on-demand

Website design and strategy services

Get a beautiful, user-friendly HubSpot or Wordpress website that is easy to update, consistently generates leads and revenue, and grows with you.

Learn moreLearn more

What small business leaders need to know to thrive during a recession

What small business leaders need to know to thrive during a recession Blog Feature

Marcus Sheridan

Keynote Speaker, Author & Partner, Author of ’They Ask You Answer”, Presented 250+ Sales, Marketing, & Communication Workshops Worldwide

January 3rd, 2020 min read

In They Ask, You Answer, I wrote candidly about one of the darkest times in my professional life. 

When the Great Recession hit in 2008, we thought our business, River Pools and Spas, would never recover.

Almost overnight, we lost much of our expected revenue as customers decided they weren’t comfortable going forward and building the pool we had agreed on.

Within a few months, our business bank account was overdrawn, and we were forced to contemplate shuttering retail stores, laying off workers, and, potentially, closing our business for good. 

Now, more than a decade later, I can look back on that experience as a truly formative one in my own development as a businessman and leader. 

Planning for a recession begins when things are booming

Today, we can’t seem to agree on anything as a country. 

Some people say the economy is humming along, pointing to Wall Street record highs and unemployment numbers not seen in a generation. 

To others, trade worries and slowing GDP growth point to a downturn on the horizon.  

In my opinion, there is always some economic uncertainty, and economists can always find numbers to support one viewpoint or another. 

However, businesses can use uncertainty to take a good look in the mirror and prepare for whatever is ahead. 

Economic downturns are part of the natural cycle of business. While you can’t control the economy, you can prepare in the best way possible — and you can control your own reaction. However, if you choose not to prepare, you're less likely to make it through unscathed.

Remember, your employees, customers, and clients will all look to you for guidance, and they will interpret both what you say and what you do when determining how they should react. 

Even when the waves get rough and the storm rages, people like to know that there’s a steady hand driving the boat.

Remember the old saying: A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

Why a culture of agility and openness is crucial to your long-term success

Although this sounds like cold comfort if you’re facing a recession, small business owners have an advantage because of the nimbleness that comes with being small. 

Major pivots and new initiatives are more realistic with a smaller team. 

While small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) might lack the resources of larger corporations, I like to say that you can be a “digital David in a land of Goliaths.” You can move quickly, shift to meet new opportunities, and react effectively. 

The truth about any economic downturn is that some businesses are guaranteed to gain market share, even as others lose it. It happens in every economic contraction. In my experience, it is the small, agile businesses who are most likely to do this — to see opportunity amid the crisis. 

Secondly, small businesses are more likely to have the benefit of transparency, and this becomes an asset in a downturn. 

I believe it is critical for business owners to be open and frank with their employees, and this should begin long before times get tough. 

The more transparent leaders can be with their team, the more likely those employees will feel trusting and informed. You should value candor over comfort.

With a culture of transparency, you are more likely to have employees volunteer to accept new roles or change responsibilities if the company needs it.

If you do have to close stores or lay off people, it’s best if they can see it coming and understand the rationale behind it. Should it come to this, you may have employees choose to leave and go on unemployment if that seems like the best option for them. 

Such decisions are always difficult for all involved; transparency, I’ve found, is the best method for easing the pain.

A downturn can be a time of growth — with the right strategy

I don’t want to pretend that anyone ever hopes for a recession or dreams about a depression, but trying times call forth fortitude, initiative, innovation, and teamwork like nothing else. 

I know that River Pools and Spas would not be the strong company it is today if it were not for the storm we weathered together a decade ago.

Although it was a very difficult time for me personally and professionally, the decisions we made allowed us to emerge more sturdy and focused than we had been in the past.

Personally, I use the lessons I learned during those times every day when I speak to business groups, when I write, or when I make decisions to help lead IMPACT.

In a downturn you find energy and focus that you just can’t always summon elsewhere. 

You are forced to get creative, and to make decisions that you may come to realize you already should have made. 

In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he asks companies to develop a “hedgehog concept.” 

This comes from an earlier essay that argues that, while the fox knows many things, the hedgehog knows one thing really well. 

A hedgehog concept is the one thing your business does best. In a downturn, businesses should cling to their hedgehog concept — and that should be their guiding principle.

For us at River Pools, we realized that we were not doing retail very well. 

We had two beautiful retail stores where we sold everything from pool noodles to tanning beds. The tough economy made us see that these facilities didn’t align with our core goals, so we closed them.

Now, you may think that was a bad thing, but in reality, it was the right decision. It was a decision we didn’t have to make it when the economy was strong, however. 

The recession forced us to see the writing on the wall.

In turn, we were able to focus our efforts on installing fiberglass pools. That was our hedgehog concept, and that became our sole focus. 

Keep an eye on these two metrics to know when a downturn is coming

The downturn of 2008 took us by surprise. 

We, at River Pools, were not prepared, so our scrambling was all the more frenzied. But we were certainly not the only ones surprised. 

Major businesses and institutions were caught off-guard, and many did not make it through the recession. 

After all, Lehman Brothers Holdings had been in business since 1850, weathering the Great Depression and any number of smaller recessions, but the firm filed bankruptcy in 2008, which remains the largest bankruptcy in US history.

Today, with a myriad of metrics being reported by dozens of government and NGO organizations, it can be hard to know which ones matter to your business. 

For small businesses concerned about a coming downturn, I would say there are two essential metrics to monitor.

Lead flow

If you are aware that your lead flow is trending downward and you haven’t really changed anything with your marketing, this should be a red flag. 

If you see this happening, you should use the relationships you have with industry peers to see if they’re experiencing the same thing.

Remember, recessions are something everyone goes through together. If you have friendships with competitors in your market, you can ask if they are experiencing a dip in leads as well.

Inaction

In my experience, the number one reason why a customer doesn’t choose to buy from a salesperson is not because they found a better solution elsewhere — it’s because they decide they can’t afford to make the deal. 

The biggest enemy to sales is not the competition, it’s inaction.

It’s important to train your salespeople to build relationships with prospects that are strong enough to still have a conversation, even if a deal falls through. That way, you can find out the real reason a deal didn’t close. 

If the relationship is a trusting one, the prospect with tell you, “you know what, we just looked around and said to ourselves, ‘we’re just too nervous about the market.’”

In such a case, you should remember that you didn’t lose the deal. There was no deal.

What’s more, that might be a deal you can win in the future.

Again, a downturn forces you to be inventive. If enough deals fall through for a certain product or service, now might be the time to reimagine what you sell. 

Can you come up with a package that would help more deals close?

At River Pools, we were suddenly much less likely to sell our typical pool installation package, that usually ran about $60K during this time. 

So, we asked ourselves, could we come up with a $40K package that might garner more deals, even if we make less profit and have to adapt our work process?

The business owner in a recession has to always be thinking creatively.

You'll be okay if you make plans A, B, and C

Future-proofing your company starts in the good times. It begins with communication and alignment

If you don’t have those things in the good times, you can’t expect that they will suddenly be there in a downturn. Pain and struggle magnifies every element of your company. If there are divisions or fractures, those will get worse.  

By contrast, the more aligned and the more self-aware you are, the more foresight you’ll have.

Business owners and leadership teams should be having a conversation in which they make plans A, B, and C. 

The can say, okay, for plan A: let’s say there’s a moderate downturn. For plan B, let’s say there’s a significant downturn. For plan C, let’s say there’s a recession.

That way, the scariest prospect is out there in the open, on the table. 

Then, you can start planning for it. 

Right now we're all speculating that we could have economic issues in 2020. We're speculating that we could have issues in 2021. So, at this point, because we're speculating, we have a great chance to plan.

At River Pools, we installed 140 pools in 2019. In 2009, during the height of the crash, we installed 70. That was our worst year.

So, we look ahead to next year and think, what if we only sold 70 pools next year. What would our business look like?

That’s our “plan C,” and when it’s out in the open, it suddenly becomes less scary.

Economic struggles reveal the soul of a business — and the character of its leaders

Bad times are inevitable, but they can spur growth and inspire focus. When things go badly, it doesn’t help to pound sand and wallow.

You have to move quickly through the negative and focus on the solution.

Put the worst case scenario out there on the table. What is it? Is it laying off half of your workers? Is it closing a

If you and your leadership team can agree on what the worst events could be, you can start to get solutions on the table. 

As hard as it can be, I urge you to reject negativity, which can be contagious. 

As a leader, you have to model optimism and pragmatism. Be open with your workers about the reality, but focus on the solution.

Remember, in every single downturn, someone is going to gain market share. How can you be the company that gains?

With a steady demeanor and the right attitude of nimble, shrewd decision-making, you can find recessions to be times of clarity, purpose, and direction.

It all comes back to being prepared — and choosing the right outlook.

(Image courtesy of Seshu at connecticutheadshots.com)

Want to learn more about digital sales and marketing?

Master digital sales and marketing when you join IMPACT+ for FREE. Gain instant access to exclusive courses and keynotes taught by Marcus Sheridan, Brian Halligan, Liz Moorehead, Ann Handley, David Cancel, Carina Duffy, Zach Basner, and more.

Sign up for free
Take a peek

Access hundreds of FREE courses and keynotes

Free Course
Digital Sales & Marketing Framework for Today’s Buyers
By: Marcus Sheridan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
A New Way to Compete & Win
By: Brian Halligan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
How To Genuinely Feel Confident, Be Likable, And Build Trust On Camera
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Future of Marketing is Conversational​
By: David Cancel
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
HubSpot On a Budget: Getting Started with HubSpot Starter Hubs
By: Courtney Caldwell
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Assignment Selling: Content is Your Greatest Sales Tool
By: Marcus Sheridan
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Big, Bold, Brave New World of Marketing​
By: Ann Handley
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Investing in Incredible Digital Sales and Marketing Results
By: Chris Duprey
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
How To Show Your Content Makes Money With HubSpot Marketing and Sales Hubs
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
The Visual Sale
By: Marcus Sheridan & Tyler Lessard
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
Marketing Tech: What’s Now, What’s Near and What’s Not Anytime Soon?​
By: Dharmesh Shah
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Inbound Lead Generation & Conversion Optimization
By: Carina Duffy
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Virtual Keynote
Fundamentals of Videography: You Can Be a Great Videographer Too
By: Zach Basner
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
The Ultimate Customer Service Toolkit for Any Budget
By: Andriti Gulati
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
6 Topics Subject Matter Experts Need to Address
By: Kevin Phillips
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
Fanocracy: The Power of Making Business Personal​
By: David Meerman Scott
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
The Power of Pillar Content
By: Liz Moorehead
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Keynote
SEO for the Future
By: Franco Valentino
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing
By: Stephanie Baiocchi
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Deep Dive
A Practical Guide To Video Graphics
By: Colton Trcic
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Session
How To Get Your Community To Know, Like, And Trust You With Video
By: Marki Lemons Rhyal
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Free Course
Video Sales and Marketing Strategy
By: Zach Basner
View Course Preview View Course Preview
Here Are Some Related Articles You May Find Interesting

Want to Contribute Content to impactplus.com? Click Here.

IMPACT+ Sign Up
A FREE online learning community with on-demand courses, hundreds of expert-led sessions, thousands of your peers ready to support you, and much more.
Check it out
Hundreds of courses and recorded keynotes, completely FREE
Check it out
Access hundreds of digital sales and marketing courses and recorded keynotes, completely FREE