Thriving in Tough Times: Sales Strategies for Today’s Crisis Market with Lars Nilsson and Travis Henry

This is part four of the Mayfield series, “Thriving in Tough Times: Expert Insights.” In this series, we will share key takeaways and lessons learned from experts across a variety of fields. Stay tuned for content on reputation management, leveraging marketing, leading in challenging times, sales strategy in times of crisis, pivoting field marketing to digital, and more.

One area of particular focus for many leaders right now is sales, as revenues decline and customers’ budgets tighten. For this week’s installment of Thriving in Tough Times, we heard from Lars Nilsson and Travis Henry from SalesSource, who shared insights on managing the sales funnel, pipeline, and customers in today’s crisis market. 

Here were some of their key takeaways:


Lead Forecasting 

It’s really important right now for heads of sales/marketing/the executive team to get together and look at the lead forecasting for the next 3-6 month time period. Where were your leads previously coming from? What were the sources previously? What are they now? There has to be a shift to digital and outbound (account based and targeted).


Cast a Narrow Net 

A wide net may not work as well right now – some customer bases are suffering. Re-think your targeted addressable market.


The First Sentence 

What you say in the first sentence of the first email is what grabs someone’s attention – it better be personalized, have context, and have relevance, or it’s going to see the delete pile pretty quickly.


Multi-Channel Approach 

Any single channel is a failing strategy – you have to pursue a multi-channel approach. No matter the sequence, starting on the first day with a triple tap (email, voicemail, and social message) tends to produce the best day 1 results. With phone, a lot of SDR teams are under-trained and not effective on the phone – plus, connect rates have dropped to 1-5% on average – expect to leave a voicemail and add value in that voicemail which points them back to another channel.


Buyer Personas 

In the early days have SDRs at least focus on buyer personas rather than just geography, even if you don’t verticalize them yet.


Target the Top 

Don’t be afraid to try sniper campaigns to target your most coveted accounts at the very top – this involves a VP/C-level executive from within your company reaching out to their counterpart within the prospect company.



Don’t let a sales rep make their own dashboard – create the dashboard components for the CEO, CRO, CMO, all the way down to the individual contributor and SDR to make sure that when they get delivered a fresh new weekly dashboard, people can see where they stand, where their team stands, and where their company stands. It’s important to have a dashboarding strategy – reps need to understand if they have the right alignment.


Honesty in the Pipeline 

Pick up the phone and call your customers to get honest input from them – how are they doing during this crisis? It’s okay for your customers to be honest with you about the odds of getting a deal done.



Try trial periods or pushing out payments for a product as well – the committees you’re selling to aren’t co-located anymore though, so really getting creative with payment terms can help as a lever to pull.


Trustworthy Partnerships 

Now is a great time to have real conversations with your customers, and be a thoughtful and meaningful partner.


Thanks again to Lars and Travis for joining us and sharing some of their top tips for sales in these challenging times, and stay tuned for more insights on shifting field marketing to digital and selling to CXOs.

For more expert insights on thriving in tough times, check out the previous posts in the series.

  • Originally published April 20, 2020