While we\u2019re starting to forget the economic recession of 2008, those dark days left a lasting impression on how successful salespeople deal with a downturn.\r\n\r\nAt the time, I was at CareerBuilder, heading the Pacific Northwest territory for the mid-market division. I can clearly remember the uphill battle our team faced while calling customers and prospects to renew job postings. In order to succeed, we started learning about where our customers were failing and what they were still spending money on. We stopped having the same old sales conversations.\r\n\r\nIt turns out we had been focusing on the wrong competition all along. They still needed to hire talent, but the top or niche candidates they wanted couldn\u2019t be found on traditional job sites. To remedy this, we pitched ourselves and our sites for the next two years on selling against recruiters instead of simply being a job site. We focused on hard-to-fill and executive openings and found customers willing to spend big budgets to solve key needs in their business.\r\n\r\nEven with an economic downturn, we didn\u2019t blame something that wasn\u2019t under our control. Instead, we took a hard look at our sales strategies and found areas that would allow us to prosper even in grim situations.\r\nHere Are Some Top Tips To Maintain Peak Performance In A Downturn\r\nUse Technology And Data To Make Yourself As Efficient As Possible\r\nOn average, sales representatives are only spending\u00a0one-third of their time selling. They spend the\u00a0other two-thirds on research, follow-up, and administrative tasks. With the current sales tech environment, this should no longer be the case. There has never been a more exciting time to be in sales, given the amount of sales and marketing technology at our disposal. It seems like every week there\u2019s another tool that can help to automate segments of the sales process that are normally manual and cumbersome. Whether it\u2019s automating follow-ups using\u00a0Rebump\u00a0or logging all sales activity in Gmail\u00a0with\u00a0Streak, there\u2019s a tech tool out there that can help you be much more efficient in your day-to-day.\r\nThink And Act Positively\r\nPeople can sense desperation through your communication and that desperation leads to a lack of credibility amongst your customers. Remaining honest yet confident under tough circumstances is key to continued sales wins. To remain confident and optimistic, remember the high of closing\u00a0deal after deal and the way you felt and acted on those days. Attitudes, both good and bad, rub off on the people you\u2019re speaking with, so always make sure you remain positive.\r\nFocus On Out-Of-The-Box Business Challenges\r\nLike the CareerBuilder example above, it\u2019s important to think about different ways to position your product so that its use cases are positioned to solve new or bigger challenges. When the current positioning isn\u2019t working, it\u2019s time to change the conversation. Strive to use the\u00a0\u201cChallenger\u00a0Approach\u201dsales style, which more than 50 percent of all high-performing sales representatives rely on. Ask questions, push your customers to areas they might be familiar with but don\u2019t label as important, and find solutions to problems they didn\u2019t know existed. Don\u2019t be locked into a course of action that is failing and be always be willing to adapt and find new ways to position yourself when conditions aren\u2019t in your favor.\r\nBlock Out The Noise From Your Negative Peers\r\nMost people want to be good. But being great is a burden very few take on because they aren\u2019t willing to put in the extra work necessary to get there. There are specific traits that separate great salespeople from the good, but the biggest difference is that they look at a downturn or a rejection as a challenge that they have to overcome. Negative peers will look to a downturn as an excuse for poor performance, or worse, no performance. Block out the noise and focus on getting better and improving yourself.\r\n\r\nLearn Hard, Work Smart\r\n\r\nIn Malcolm Gladwell\u2019s book\u00a0Outliers, he frequently mentions the 10,000-hour rule: It takes around that amount of time to achieve excellence and mastery in a field. It\u2019s not rare to find people who put in long hours and grind it out to achieve sales excellence every month. They either get the job done or come pretty close consistently. But as the psychologist behind the rule,\u00a0Anders Ericsson, says: \u201cYou don\u2019t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe key to above-average sales performance is to do both. Work the hours needed but continuously improve your sales execution by always learning. If you put in more hours than anyone, focus on improving every day, and constantly be looking to learn, you will see the results pay off.