The sales profession is experiencing a Renaissance. The demand for talent has skyrocketed. Open positions are at an all-time high. Led by a cohort of leaders committed to giving back, the sales community is stronger and more supportive than ever before.
But many challenges remain in the quest to build sustainable growth engines. Some are new and others are long-standing. What are they? How will they impact sales every day? Our sales team set out to answer these questions and others with a list of B2B sales predictions for ’22.
So pour a cup of coffee, sit back, and see what’s in store for sales in the year ahead.
Interested in 2022 marketing predictions? To help you get a leg up on what to expect, our marketing specialists assembled the top 22 B2B Marketing Predictions for ‘22.
#1 The funnel will flip
We all know the sales funnel is seen as a linear progression from lead-to-prospect-to customer process. 2022 will be the year to flip the funnel and focus on how to get more of the “right” prospects to start at desire and action versus at awareness.
Gather your most likely buyers at the narrow top end and have the wider bottom end of the funnel being constantly fed by marketing, sales, and customer service. Your conversion rates will increase and so will your win-rates.
#2 Performance metrics will get a reboot
Volume alone is no longer an accurate metric for success. Customers expect more. According to Salesforce, 52 percent of customers expect personalized offers, and 68 percent expect a demonstration of empathy.
While easy-to-measure metrics like sales productivity will continue to play an important role, there will be more emphasis on collaboration, listening, and empathy. For example, recording and reviewing calls between sales reps and customers is an opportunity to see whether the rep is listening, asking, and sharing.
#3 Sales enablement will expand beyond sales
Sellers are not the only ones who need to be “enabled.” Anyone who interacts with customers, from marketing to services, needs to be empowered to deliver a great customer experience.
The more aligned departments are, and the more committed they become to sharing a 360-degree view of the customer, the more successful they can deliver fantastic, seamless experiences.
Curious to learn more about how to create modern B2B ecommerce experiences? These six ways to improve the B2B buyer experience reveal how the act of buying as part of the overall buyer journey will create a sustainable competitive advantage.
#4 SDR and AE tasks in CRM go autopilot
Reliance on workflow triggers will grow because automation will take over larger and larger parts of the prospecting process.
When SDRs, AEs, CSRs log into CRM, they will see a list of daily tasks that are accurate and automatically curated. New companies that meet the ideal customer profile will be automatically added to CRM and the appropriate tasks will be assigned to the right person. When an existing customer announces a leadership change, the same thing can happen for the CSR: a new task will automatically appear on the rep’s to-do list.
#5 Target accuracy will improve for prospecting
Firmographic data points – company size, location, and industry – are the most used prospecting and ideal customer profile criteria. Sales reps have relied on largely static and narrow data sets, like revenue or employee count as a size indicator, the main address as location indicator, and standard industry codes like SIC and NAICS.
Now machine learning models can profile companies with a much higher accuracy. Instead of targeting “Information Technology” companies, sales can now pick and choose between categories such as 3D technology, network security, data visualization, and greentech. The same applies to location and company size indicators.
#6 Salespeople will develop omnichannel dexterity
The pandemic has cemented omnichannel interactions as the predominant path for B2B sales. A salesperson will increasingly interact with customers via phone, email, online chat, video, apps, and occasional in-person visits.
Proposals can be interactive and trackable. The first initial outreach doesn’t have to be a well-drafted email or a solid cold-call script but something completely different, like a tailored video message shared directly to recipients’ social media inboxes.
#7 Social selling will continue to expand
Social selling has become a force over the last several years. Work from home has been a major catalyst, forcing sales professionals to embrace the opportunities that come with it.
As more people find their groove with connecting, conversing, and posting, we will start to see smaller hubs of individuals congregate around niche topics. Influencers will begin to show up in areas like industrial manufacturing, energy services, commercial construction, agriculture and others.
#8 Slack groups and online forums will spark new connections
Public Slack communities have been popping up for years. They can be amazing places to network. Some are large groups. Others are niche.
You don’t need to wait to find one dedicated to your ideal clients. You can create your own and invite clients and prospects to it. There’s no better way to have the undivided attention of the people you want to speak to than to provide them a forum to ask questions related to your industry.
#9 Shorter client meetings will continue
In the last two years, attention spans have decreased dramatically with more computer time and the plethora of work-from-home distractions. Conversely, more virtual meetings has meant shorter meetings and more of them.
Virtual selling and the 20-minute meeting has become the new standard, especially when inviting a new client to meet for the first time. Twenty minutes feels acceptable and brief enough to be meaningful without impacting a large part of the day.
#10 Conferences and trade shows will focus on the second meeting
There is pent-up demand for the return to in-person events. They are fun, educational, and most of all not behind a computer screen. But the underlying challenges associated with events since before the pandemic haven’t changed.
Instead of trying to meet new prospects for the first time in person, we need to connect with previously engaged people in person. Focus on building online relationships then transitioning them to a brief in-person meeting and then move them back to virtual.
#11 More videos will adopt the “TikTok format”
Tiktok overtook Google as the most popular internet site in 2021. What TikTok does that other platforms miss is force users to keep videos as short as 15 seconds. In other words, you deliver a succinct message without the fluff.
When creating prospecting videos to be sent via LinkedIn direct message or email, follow the TikTok “simple message in 15 seconds” rule. If you can’t communicate three to five one-liners in 15 seconds, a two-minute video isn’t going to do it either.
#12 Social proof will address digital skepticism
Standing out from the crowd is challenging to say the least. This is especially the case when more and more salespeople lack the opportunity to meet face-to-face.
We believe that social proof will find its way into more and more sales playbooks in 2022. Seeing logos on a website is not enough to make someone trust you as a vendor. You will need more authentic ways to demonstrate credibility. It could be a tailored video testimonial in the digital sales room next to the proposal, or a proactive LinkedIn message that hits your inbox when you’re considering buying something new.
#13 Digital sales room
As transactional sales become more automated, salespeople will spend more time on larger opportunities, which requires a consultative approach, discovery meetings, and tailored proposals. These deals will involve more people from the buyer and seller side alike.
You will see customer-facing digital portals and microsites gain more traction. Parties can share relevant materials, chat with each other, and craft custom proposals with prospective buyers. Besides making it easier to create unique buying experiences for customers, these portals allow sellers to track content that clients view and interact with.
#14 Product-led growth will get more traction
If you work in SaaS, the term product-led growth should already be familiar. There are a billion articles on this topic, so we’ll limit our contribution to a simple, two-sentence description: it’s a business methodology in which new business sales, expansion sales, and retention are all driven primarily by the product itself. PLG companies often build a freemium or free trial revenue model that allows potential customers to try out the product before talking to sales.
The appeal of this approach – primarily lower customer acquisition costs – will continue. Simply put, it scales well.
#15 Sales operations will turn to third parties for help
The complexity of modern sales tools, processes, workflow, and reporting will give rise to specialists who can support sales operations with know-how and technical expertise. The same is true for revenue operations.
Solutions will span from staff augmentation to turnkey “as a service” operations. Sales and revenue operations leaders and their teams can spend more time on high-value activities like strategy, performance management, and business outcomes, not oiling the infrastructure behind the scenes.
You made it to the end!
Consider yourself up to speed on sales predictions for ‘22. As long as you’re keeping a thumb on the pulse of sales trends – and always an open mind – your business won’t fall behind.
If keeping up with this leaves you feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. We can reduce the complexity with our solutions for outsourced sales development as well as sales operations as a service.
Book an appointment with us to start a conversation.