October 13, 2022

Liz Christo of Stage 2 Capital shares how your GTM strategy should shift during a recession


Stage 2 Capital Partner Liz Christo joins Kimia Hamidi on Recession-Proof this week to share why she sees the economic downturn as an opportunity for businesses to optimize their go-to-market strategy. Liz has 14 years experience in sales, and has recently transitioned to angel investor, partner, and GTM advisor for multiple start-ups such as Gradient Works, QuotaPath, Gappify, Writer, and Vergo.

Liz and Kimia discuss:

  • The effect downturns can have on your GTM team
  • Shifting from founder-led sales to a your first sales hire
  • How to create a comp plan that drives behavioral change

Key takeaways

  • Liz shares that during a recession, companies need to resort back to business fundamentals to identify leading indicators, shore up their existing customer base and ensure they have clarity on potential customer churn.

    “There are the very basics of building a business, and it starts with actually identifying what your leading indicators are. Most track revenue and lagging indicators like results and output of the activity. We try to gear everybody to think a bit earlier than that. So rather than waiting to see if your largest customer renews 12 months from now, what things can we track now to understand whether that client is happy, engaging with your product, and activated in the way you expect?”
  • In times of economic prosperity, experimentation is a must. In times of recession, companies should be more thoughtful: you can now longer spend unreasonably. To experiment, you must have a clear hypothesis, timeline and budget, and test one idea at a time.

    “I always think people should be experimenting. But it's a question and trade-off of resources. So the companies stop thinking about growth at all costs. And so you're doing the work first to understand what basis you have? What are these proven routes to revenue? How can we exploit them? And then any incremental time, resources, energy, and money you have can be pointed at experimentation.”
  • In terms of sales incentives, compensation plans drive the behavior change in teams and, respectively, the dynamic of your business. They should be simple, easy to understand, and designed according to the behavior you want to drive. 

    “The great thing about salespeople is they do what you pay them to do. The terrible thing about salespeople is they do what you pay them to do. And so, if you put it in that context, your compensation plan can drive a lot of behavioral change.”
  • Shifting your company from founder-led sales to building up a sales team is a matter of developing people and operations. On the people side, your first hire should be a jack of all things revenue and an avid student. On the operational side, start by documenting what is working and constantly adapt your sales playbook as you learn.

    “When I think about the first sales hire, the first go-to-market hire, it's a mix of things. But we often look for somebody who can play a little bit of everything. They need to be able to do some prospecting, they need to be able to close new business, do a little bit of the CS work, they might do a little bit of that early process building the very early stuff. It needs to be somebody who's a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.”

Learn more about Liz:

Episode resources:

Check out the full transcript here.

For more episodes from Recession-Proof, check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and our RSS or your favorite podcast player.

Instructions on how to follow, rate, and review Recession-Proof are here.

Don't miss these

How Keith Masuda of Modern Treasury is managing spend during the downturn
Anup Singh on how to think about IPOs and M&As during a downturn
Hard lessons Dan Chen of Deltec has learned from working through three recessions