Hard as it might be to believe (seriously, where has the time gone?), we’re wrapping up 2022 and it’s time to look towards 2023. As ever with trends, there’s usually a throughline. Across the board, we’re seeing the emphasis is shifting towards collaboration and innovation, and always keeping your focus on the customer’s needs.
In 2022, the priority was on customer journeys and experience, particularly in the space of ‘customer success’ and that’s still a burning priority as we head into the new year. However, as a sales team, there’s more of a shift to matching up your brand or product values with pain points. Automation, AI, and personalisation are also key, but it all comes back to ways that you can make sure you’re putting your buyer first.
Trend 1: Get Your Head Around the Changes in Buyer Expectations
It’s not news to anyone that the expectations of clients and consumers have dramatically evolved. With 87% of buyers more likely to invest in a product or service if the salesperson changes the way they think, it’s important to consider how you meet their needs.
What B2B customers are now looking for are clearly expressed values-based solutions to their challenges, and are willing to pay more and sign on faster to the salesperson who can clearly define the benefits.
As audiences mature and become more sophisticated, you can’t just put on pressure and expect to make a quick sale with a straight out-of-the-box solution-based strategy. Instead, you have to consider personalisation and emphasising the values, rather than leaning on the pressure-based hard sell.
For sales teams, this means making sure that you’re drawing the line between the customer pain points and the value of your product. This reduces the time with decision makers, as they can articulate the benefits to key decision makers, and also allows you to develop an open and honest relationship. The longer-term benefit of this kind of relationship is that you’re more likely to be able to upsell future products and offerings, which is a pivotal way to motivate your pipeline.
So lean into your customer research, and understand the motivators that are driving your customer, and the blockages that your service can help to overcome. This is vital when 77% of B2B customers don’t believe sales reps understand their issues or how the products could solve them, and 75% say that reps didn’t come prepared with knowledge of their business. Building a process that allows your sales team to speak to your consumer’s needs might be more work up-front but will yield dividends in the long run and help you stand out from the crowd.
Trend 2: Smart Technology Time
Love it or loathe it, disruptive technology is a major trend across most industries for 2023, and sales are no exception. Integrating technology into your process can help you to close deals more effectively, and to have a higher-productivity and efficient team.
According to a McKinsey report, companies that use lead-scoring algorithms have experienced up to a 20% improvement in conversion rates, and 74% of sales professionals who use an intelligence tool state that it plays a critical role in closing deals. Yet only 47% of sales professionals claim that they use technology in sales at least once a day.
Of all the tech expansions, automation is crucial for your sales strategy, and ensures you’re not missing easy opportunities. Automation speeds up the more routine processes, with research suggesting that almost a third of sales processes can be automated.
Similarly, think about using technology that allows your sales team to improve themselves–the advent of conversation analytics allows you to process the deeply subjective with objective data, and track the improvement of your teams.
While it can be tempting to assume that all technology is going to improve your process, it’s important to keep in mind that process adoption is easier when it helps your team do what they already do, but better.
Trend 3: Get Social
Just as in Trend 1, social selling speaks to the fact that more than 81% of consumers do online research before buying. This is a habit which transfers readily into the B2B space and means that future-facing growth-oriented companies should consider how social media can help improve their process.
Knowing the platforms and the target personas is a great way to stress the benefits of your product or services. With opinions being formed on your company long before the first contact has ever been made, your team can help you warm up those leads without having to make direct contact. 72% of salespeople exceed their quota by as much as 23% if they use social media, and the same percentage of salespeople also outperform those who don’t engage leads on social media platforms.
For the effective and efficient sales team, all of these trends highlight the power of working in tandem with marketing teams to ensure your key messaging, positioning and selling points are in alignment and the conversations you have directly address what they’ve seen of your business and cultivate trust.
2023 is going to be the year when it’s vital to cultivate your creativity and innovation, while still being critical. It’s important to be curious and critical about the way that “business as usual” looks, and consider whether the old ways are the best ways. But the key takeaway is that anything you adopt should allow for team training and development, so that your team can do what they do but more effectively, more efficiently, or more easily.