B2B Sales Trends for 2023
With the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to consider the new B2B sales strategies you may have been putting off. The B2B landscape is changing rapidly. New technology and changing economic environment are forcing companies to change plans. To stay ahead of the curve, sales leaders must adapt or fall behind. This article explores the 2023 sales landscape and how sales leaders can position their teams for greater success.
Looking into the future, we can predict the changes to the B2B sales landscape and what strategies companies should adopt to stay successful. As a sales training organization, we work with innovative, successful companies across a variety of industries. One thing is certain, the pace of change is accelerating, not slowing. By staying informed of the latest best practices that are working today, sales leaders can ensure they are well-positioned to capitalize on changes in the B2B market.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Improve Customer Experience
As AI continues to evolve, many industries are adopting it to improve their products and services. There are many areas where AI falls short, but customer service is not one of them. AI can be highly beneficial in improving customer service. Companies are seeing an increase in customer service issues. The rise in the complexity of solutions sold partially causes this. Another cause could be the number of customers the team needs to support. AI can help support both challenges.
AI tools allow companies to build deeper relationships with their customers, drive incremental sales, and improve brand loyalty. While sales reps want to make it easy for their customers to purchase, customer support reps need to ensure that every customer has a great experience after the purchase. With AI, companies can identify critical issues and leverage artificial intelligence to understand customers after the purchase.
With AI providing recommendations, your support team can work faster and improve the customer experience. For example, the AI tool Einstein by Salesforce provides comprehensive customer profiles based on updates and data saved in the CRM. It analyzes the data, including past customer service tickets and previous purchases, and provides the next best actions or suggested resolutions based on their queries.
Adopting a Mobile-First Strategy
Meeting the needs of B2B buyers in the field is a complex challenge. Buyers often want custom solutions delivered fast. The surest way to lose a sale is to be slow with solutions. For sales reps, winning new business is about speed and personalization. Gaining new customers is nearly impossible for sales reps to accomplish alone. Sales reps often require input from other parties, like engineering, channel partners, and distributors. Forcing prospects to wait while the sales reps return to the office is no longer a best practice.
To meet customer expectations, forward-thinking sales teams are changing how they collaborate. WebRTC is a technology that allows video, screen sharing, and document sharing from a mobile device. Sales reps in the field can connect with their support team wherever the support team is located using their smartphone and a browser. This collaboration technology can maximize each field sales rep’s potential. The ability for instant video collaboration in the field means companies can remove the stress on sales reps to have all the answers, resulting in improved outcomes.
For example, suppose a recently hired sales rep is with a prospect in the field. The prospect is showing the sales rep their problem, but the sales rep needs help finding the solution. With a click of a button, the sales rep can connect with the right support team member and provide line of sight to the problem. It’s as if the tech support expert is looking over the reps shoulder. This technology is currently used in telemedicine, the insurance industry, and financial service firms. The potential for other verticals is just being explored.
Currently, the two most popular forms of communication are email and phone. Video communication represents about 10% of all business communication. Any sales rep can tell you that email is inefficient. Mobile collaboration allows sales reps to work independently in the field with the ability to bring other stakeholders into the conversation in real time. Real-time mobile collaboration will provide a high level of support and increase revenue.
New 5G networks and devices are also changing how sales reps with small and medium businesses collaborate with their customers in the field. It is now possible for a sales rep with a 5G smart phone to facilitate a touchless transaction. Their phone becomes a handheld POS system to accept payments, conduct business, and track sales. The ability for sales reps to centralize and simplify the purchase process for customers with a mobile device improves operational efficiencies for both parties.
Partnerships Will Become Critical
For organizations to grow in 2023, organizations and their sales team will be tasked with doing more with less. Improving efficiencies requires new partnerships. Most companies, their sales leaders, and sales reps have too small a view of potential partnerships. They see partnerships as a transaction relationship between two companies. The transactional relationship view limits new opportunities. To increase opportunities, sales leaders must think past transactional relationships and develop trusted advisor partnerships.
Shared goals are the key to trusted advisor partnerships. This could include mentors, advisors, coaches, non-competitive companies, and companies in your ecosystem. When you view partnerships as any relationship with the potential for growth and development, it expands the opportunity to grow partnerships. Limiting partner relationships to the obvious external reseller, affiliate, or channel partner is one-dimensional. Organizations can also create internal partnerships to grow.
For example, as a sales training organization, we see clients who struggle to form partnerships within their organizations. New sales reps receive training and are onboarded with limited interaction with other departments, like marketing, rev ops, and finance. Those departments have siloed information that would benefit new reps, yet rarely is there a formal process to share that knowledge.
Stronger relationships allow for better business decisions. They also create new development opportunities. Sales leaders who are ready and willing to develop new partnerships and evolve team structures will help their teams grow, even in periods of uncertainty. Partnerships require time and effort to foster, but their benefits can be transformational, including:
- Increase Lead Volume
- Better Quality Leads
- New Revenue Source
- Increase in Sales
- Improved Customer Experience
Here’s a fact few people know: Microsoft generated 95% of their B2B revenue from partners in 2019. They achieved this by partnering with companies of all sizes. Their strategy was to move past traditional transactional reseller relationships and develop trusted advisor partnerships. These partnerships created revenue that did not exist before. Organizations that will focus on expanding their quality partnerships will be able to accelerate value to their customers. Shifting the focus from competing for value to creating value is the starting point.
Economic uncertainty is forcing organizations to streamline and optimize their sales processes. The goal is to manage risk but support growth. This change will create new opportunities for sales leaders who are willing to adapt. Organizations across all industries are searching for solutions to generate new revenue without adding headcount or increasing their budget.
The B2B sales ecosystem is rapidly evolving, and companies must stay ahead of the curve to succeed in the future. As we look towards 2023, we can expect the use of artificial intelligence to improve customer service and the adoption of the mobile-first strategy to make it easier for customers to purchase items. Sales leaders can also focus on building partnerships that create value for all stakeholders.
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