Can a Recession Be a Good Thing?

Recession Economy Graphic
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As salespeople, sales leaders, and business owners try to navigate a recession, it’s important to remember that tough times are good. That said, whether it is your first recession or your tenth, you may wonder, “What will this mean for my quota?” or “How am I going to find more prospects?” or “How will this impact my paycheck?”

Balance your anxiousness with the opportunity these tough times will create. Recessions often create more opportunities than they cost you. Here are nine reasons
a recession is a good thing:

Green Brown 1Recessions create cost-cutting opportunities. Nearly every organization I work with helps customers reduce their overall costs in some way. These cost-cutting measures include labor, maintenance, down time, engineering costs, warranty costs, logistical costs, and so on. Find ways to cut your customers’ costs. Initiate the cost-cutting conversation with your customer. Your customers and prospects are more open than ever to having this conversation. Tough times are good!

Use this language: “The current recession has likely prompted cost-cutting measures within your organization. Are you open to a conversation on how we can help?”

In my new book, Selling Through Tough Times, I provide 11 questions to help you uncover
cost-cutting measures.

Green Brown 2Recessions ease competitive pressure. During tough times, companies fail and flounder. It’s reality. You will face less competitive pressure from those no-good, price-selling, low-balling competitors. As these cheap competitors further cut prices, they lose more money. It’s not sustainable. Some of your competitors will fold. Their customers will need support from somewhere – it might as well be you. Tough times are good!

Green Brown 3Recessions provide access to higher-level decision makers (HLDMs). During recessions, companies require higher-level approvals for purchasing decisions. As companies level up their decision-making, it creates an opportunity for you to meet with that HLDM.

Also, HLDMs want to meet with other HLDMs. In uncertain times, leaders look for clarity and information, often through dialogue with other leaders. Now is an opportune time to arrange a high-level meeting with your company’s HLDM and your prospect. Tough times are good!

Green Brown 4Recessions increase the number of decision makers. There is safety in numbers. Buyers like to spread the risk during tough times. This means incorporating more people in the process. John F. Kennedy said, “Success has many parents, and failure is an orphan.” Use this as an opportunity to expand your footprint within your opportunities. Tough times are good!

Green Brown 5Recessions create market-share opportunities. Research shows that many organizations reduce their marketing budgets, sales forces, and selling activities during a recession. Now is the time to increase your selling and marketing efforts. If salespeople increase their
sales activity by 25 percent, they could effectively double their coverage vis-à-vis the competition. Use this time to gain a stronger market position. Tough times are good!

Green Brown 6Recessions stabilize shortages. Businesses are plagued with severe shortages of product and labor, causing deep frustration for salespeople and customers. This problem will now solve itself. Businesses will find employees and product to enhance the service experience. Tough times are good!

Green Brown 7Recessions reveal your weakness. Any salesperson can succeed with a good economy, peak demand, and rising prices. These factors mask bad sales behavior. The mask is coming off. A recession reveals your weakness so that you may become stronger. You will learn how to craft a more-compelling message, prepare more diligently, persuade more effectively, and partner deeper with your customers. Tough times are good!

Green Brown 8Recessions humble you. Good times bring success. That success generates an inflated sense of self. The wave of success only pushes us so far. Momentum is generated by the wave, not the individual. This is why you catch a wave, not create one. When the wave reaches the shore, you exhaustedly paddle back out. Paddling out strengthens us to catch an even bigger wave on our next ride. Tough times humble you and at the same time help
you. Tough times are good!

Green Brown 9Tough times create unique and unexpected opportunities. Good times feel great, but good times obscure our view toward even greater opportunities. When things are good, sellers lack the desire to find something greater. The sting of tough times creates the courage and desire to pursue such opportunities. Tough times are good!

Recession Business LossTough times are good! They’re not pain-free, but they are good. The pain and angst you experience during the next several months will catalyze the positive change you need. Fully embrace tough times and welcome the struggle. This opportunity will not last long. Since the Great Depression, recessions average about 10.4 months. Seize this opportunity today.

Paul Reilly is a speaker, sales trainer, author of Selling Through Tough Times (McGraw-Hill, 2021), coauthor of Value-Added Selling, fourth edition (McGraw-Hill, 2018), and host of The Q and A Sales Podcast. Visit to download three free chapters of Selling Through Tough Times. For additional information on Reilly’s keynote presentations and seminars, call 636.778.0175 or email Visit and signup for the free newsletter.

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