As the door closed on the 2021 year, companies experienced another year of adapting, perseverance, and uncertainties, many struggling while others flourished. Sales teams adapted to new sales trends, customer priorities, and the changing sales and marketing landscape.
A positive that came from these last two turbulent years is many companies became more innovative, adapting to the new business environments. They embraced more technology and increased demand for customer experience rather than customer service.
The big question is ‘what should we expect in the new year?’ This article highlights B2B sales trends we expect to be prevalent throughout 2022 and how you can equip your business for what lies ahead.
1. Growth Strategies Embrace More Courageous Tactics – Throughout 2020 and 2021, companies embraced the idea of security and retention and relatively safe growth strategies. They focused on known markets where strong demand flourished. Some ventured into new markets created by the pandemic but were often led into those markets rather than proactively pursuing them.
The sales trends research for 2022 shows companies shifting to take on more risk in their strategies. This will include penetrating new markets, new product/solution development and a more focused approach to accelerate their growth. In addition, an increase in measurement enables companies to be more dynamic and adaptable to new opportunities.
2. Realisation of the Great Resignation – Much has been written about the great resignation and as we come out of lockdowns and the markets become more fluid, sales and marketing talent will be the top challenge for leadership across the year. The market is active with people seeking to change their roles, and retain a degree of remoteness, putting up to half of your selling capacity at risk of change over. Salespeople will seek companies that have adapted to the new markets and provide a clear road to success.
The labour market has record levels of open sales and marketing positions. As a result, companies must address the process by which they bring in new talent and evaluate the employee value proposition they offer. The recruitment methods will change, and old recruitment styles of interviewing and assessment will need to shift to attract top talent. Stay tuned for more on this topic in 2022.
3. B2B Marketing and Sales Alignment – Companies have learned through the pandemic the need to adopt marketing strategies and tactics to fill the void of the lack of availability for sales organisations to reach out to potential new customers due to remote workplaces. Sales and marketing teams must work closely together.
Marketing is now bound to digital marketing initiatives to connect with target audiences. This can be a major shift for many marketing teams requiring them to rebuild their functions from the ground up. The outsourcing of some services will be drawn back in-house with the increase of digital campaigns and tactics and the development of sales tools. Education of marketing departments for efficiencies and effectiveness and strategy review is a high priority for business leaders. Furthermore, marketing must intimately understand the sales trends and serve the sales department’s demands.
Marketing will also require building the operational infrastructure to follow leads through from origination to close and embracing account-based marketing to improve the efficiency and focus of marketing resources. Lead generation will be central to sales strategies and the success of the sales reps.
There is a strong demand for the skills, and they are hard to find. Marketing and sales measurement and alignment are new experiences for a high proportion of marketing management. We will cover more of this in 2022
4. Clearly Defined Growth Strategy and Implementation Plan – The growth strategy must embrace the challenges of constantly shifting talent, remote workers, shifts from legacy business models to SaaS and constant change. The strategy must provide a single point of focus and direction that leadership and their team can navigate toward through changing environments throughout the year.
Within the sales force, the sales trends are focused on the implementation plan and importantly
- Implementing a team structure aligned to the strategy
- Rethinking territory design or customer allocation to align selling actions and talent to opportunity
- Introducing greater discipline to sales management and team support
- Aligning sales and marketing beyond just points of handoff to improve revenue outcomes
- Proactively recruiting for salespeople beyond the timing of when vacancies are identified.
Sales leaders need to ensure sales enablement strategies are in place to prepare salespeople to sell in the new sales model and focus their sales activities to where the best outcomes can be achieved. The sales process must be well documented with a clear path to follow.
5. Customer Success Over Customer Support – Companies have relied on customer support as central to their success in building customer relationships for many years. However, companies learned during the pandemic that customers demand more than ever before. No longer is it enough to produce a high-quality product and promote it to a target group of potential customers.
Unless customers are one hundred per cent sure the solution they invest in will work for them, they will not move forward and purchase. Therefore, your offer or solution must be the perfect fit for your customers to stay loyal to your brand and keep generating your sales.
Rather than convincing customers to make a purchasing decision by persuading them, they need to know you are genuinely interested in their business success. Instead of focusing on outstanding customer support, which is often reactionary to customer contact, you must be proactive. You are no longer waiting for a problem to be flagged by your customer, so you can showcase your expertise and resolve it promptly.
Instead, companies need to proactively reach out to customers to educate them about your product and how it benefits their business. There is a noticeable rise in customer training and services available to ensure companies maximise their value from products and services. Particularly seen in SaaS, this will trend to other business services.
In 2022, the role of a Customer Success Manager will be pivotal to growth. The person’s role is to personalise a business’s product offer in a way that appeals to the customer’s specific workflows and processes. To proactively reach out to customers before problems arise. This is no longer a role adopted by sales personnel as the demands of the function far exceed the available time of sales.
Traditionally, competition drives innovation, but a worldwide crisis drives it more rapidly and considerably more focused. As a result, companies are about to participate in a drastic change in how they need to do business to remain relevant to the market. Without the shifts being made to the core of the culture of the business and how it goes to market, companies will become observers of change and become irrelevant to the market.
There are companies already making these fundamental shifts and are taking market share. Their teams are more stabilised as the growth strategy is clear, and they understand their contribution.
The common thread uniting each sales trend is the alignment of the business units and the prioritisation of the customer.
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