We are fast approaching 2023. Every time a new year comes around, it brings a lot of new issues with it. And opportunities as well. There will be plenty of sales challenges for 2023 that will require hard work to overcome. Transitioning into a new year can take time, lots of effort, and preparation as well. As everyone always wants to get off to the best start possible, as early as possible.
For salespeople, that early start can absolutely make or break their year. So knowing what challenges they are likely to face and having sound strategies to overcome them can be a massive boon to their success.
In that spirit, here are 8 challenges that salespeople in 2023 and some tips on how to overcome them.
Sales + Marketing = Smarketing
Smarketing is the funny word you get when sales and marketing are combined. But, they really should operate as one and work closely together. In basketball terms, marketing should be like the point guard, setting up the play and then passing it to the sales team, who rises up for the slam dunk. In an ideal world, that’s how sales and marketing would always work together. But unfortunately, the world we live in isn’t always ideal. Far from it.
So how can you align marketing and sales starting next year and beyond? Well, it’s going to take some introspection and soul-searching. You can start by looking at the processes you currently have in place. For example, are all of your marketing communication efforts targeted toward the same audience that your sales team is trying to reach? Are both departments talking about the benefits of the same features? Are you attracting the right kind of leads? Those are just a few of the questions that you can start with to find some alignment to go from sales + marketing to smarketing.
Once you find the synergies where each department can more efficiently work together, smarketing will be the one-two punch when it comes to revenue generation in your business. This way, you can start a word-of-mouth marketing or a social media campaign and align it with your overall sales strategy successfully.
Product isn’t the end all, be all
Sure, you sell a great product, we know that, you know that. Your prospect likely knows that as well. However, that won’t always be the reason that they go with you versus a competitor. It should be, but when it comes to buying, even in B2B, humans are emotional. Despite trying to think rationally at times, when our emotions get triggered, rationality goes out the window.
Price will be important, the features will be important, and how you, as a salesperson, make them feel will be even more important.
So to overcome this challenge of product not being the most valuable variable in the equation, you’re going to have to stand out from the competition. So when you’re dealing with your prospects, add a little extra human touch. Personalize your message. Be funny and send a relevant meme. Or a handwritten letter. Whatever it is, pull at the heartstrings and connect emotionally with your prospects to give yourself an advantage over the many competitors out there.
Again, you’re going to have to stand out from the competition. That is where the other aspects of you, your sales process, come into the equation.
There is so much data out there. We are literally drowning in it, and there will only be more and more created every single day. With there being a data overload, how can we not drown in the data lake that exists? How can sales professionals find valuable data and then leverage it to their advantage?
That will be a massive challenge for sales teams everywhere and will be for a while. Sorting and sifting through the massive data troves in their CRM and other tools in their sales tech stack to find the golden bits that can have an impact.
To overcome that challenge, sales teams should use some tools to help them sort through the data they have on hand. There are tons out there to help them find the most relevant data. Maybe a tool that can help them identify decision makers at the companies that are a great fit for their product. Or an audio transcription tool that allows them to focus on the conversations they have rather than taking notes.
It’s about leveraging the data that you have on hand and using it to your benefit. That’s how you can take your sales game to the next level in 2023.
Building trust in a virtual world
It’s a problem that is definitely new to the modern-day sales process. Before, with physical meetings, you could build trust with a handshake and assess a person’s character over the course of a couple of meetings and in-person interactions. It allowed you to size them up a bit better.
Now, sales processes are primarily, if not completely, digital. It’s just you and your prospect in a zoom meeting. To them, you’re just a salesperson who they see on their screen, in their email, and maybe on LinkedIn every now and again. It’s easy for them not to view you as a real person. And establishing a digital rapport isn’t exactly simple for everyone.
You’ve got to overcome that and be humane and kind in your outreach. Building trust is always important in any relationship, but building it with a digital barrier does add an extra layer of difficulty. Be a real person, friendly, warm and welcoming in your messaging. According to a report from Hubspot, Personalization is going to be the difference maker. To be honest, you’re likely not the only person who’s reaching out to this person, you have to stand out. You want them to react to your message positively, if you send them the same cookie-cutter message that you’ve sent to 50 other people, do you really think that’s going to resonate with them?
Inconsistent sales cycles
Sales cycles especially when selling in a B2B environment, are long. Painfully long at times, and when there is an economic downturn, they are even more difficult to predict. They can be longer, they can be shorter, or they can die before they even begin. Uncertainty is injected into every part of the sales cycle when times are tough. That makes it harder for sales teams and companies to accurately forecast and predict revenues.
To overcome this inconsistency, sales professionals should be consistent and thorough in their processes and communication efforts. You should be trying to reach your prospects and ready to aid them whenever they decide that now is the time to buy. Knowing when that time is will be difficult, but if you’re ready when they are, then you’re in pole position to close out with them. So track their buying signals, and if you see a couple of them, be ready.
Social sellers will outperform their non-social selling peers
Social selling is the act of a sales professional being more active on their personal social media. They build a personal brand and focus on connecting with those in their network. They leverage their social media presence to find new leads and prospects and engage in relevant discussions. It’s a way for them to stand out from the crowd, attract attention to themselves and create meaningful relationships with others. This tactic of social selling is only going to become even more important. And there will be a bigger gap between those who socially sell and those who don’t.
Sales is a social profession. Salespeople speak and interact with people on a daily basis. It’s part and parcel of their professional life. This now has to include social media because that is where people occupy the digital world we live in. There will always be a battle for attention, and it’s a challenge for sales professionals to get in front of the right people at the right time. That’s why with a social selling strategy, you make your job easier for yourself. You’re already attracting people to your profile based on the knowledge that you’re sharing or the content you’re putting out. It’s about getting eyeballs on yourself and getting in front of decision-makers. Those decision-makers tend to be on LinkedIn. That’s where you need to get your message out and smartly put your product and yourself in front of them.
AI – the future is now?
AI is here, and it is going to impact the way that everyone works in the future. It has already affected the way everyone lives and works. Algorithms serve us ads, determine the content we see on social media, and what links we see when we google anything. There are various degrees of AI, and let’s be honest, sales as a profession still needs a human touch and aspect to it. Robots aren’t taking their jobs (yet?).
It’s a challenge that should be looked at as an opportunity rather than a threat. It’s like upskilling. The way to overcome this is to work with AI rather than against it. Salespeople should hop on the AI bandwagon to learn to use it for their own benefit. It’s just another tool or set of tools at their disposal to aid them in closing deals. Likely, most salespeople already have some automation in their processes. So incorporating AI into their cycles won’t be a radical change.
Back in the days of industrialization, the assembly line vastly improved and automated the production processes. Now, in a similar vein, various tools are doing the same thing in the sales process. AI and automation are not going away anytime soon. They’ll ramp up and increase as time goes on. So learning how to harness it and use it to your advantage will be paramount to the success of 2023. You’ll be able to spend less time on prospecting, contracting, or other tedious tasks that take up significant time for you in your sales cycle.
To be successful with AI, salespeople should look at it as a way to level up and become better at their jobs. Because that’s exactly what it is and will do if used correctly. Using AI to their benefit can aid in overcoming one of the most crucial sales challenges in 2023.
Buyers will prefer a sales rep-free experience
A trend that’s going to pick up speed in 2023 is buyers preferring to buy without talking to a sales rep. They want to be left alone, which might entail the entire customer journey. They’ll do all of their research, testing, and looking at comparable products and similar solutions without ever wanting or needing to hear from a salesperson. Now, that doesn’t exactly mean that salespeople shouldn’t reach out. It does, however, mean that they need to be more strategic and impactful when they do reach out.
When reaching out to your prospects or potential leads, you have to be there at the right time and with the right message. It’ll come down to timing because people will be weary of any contact from a salesperson, as they know that you’ll be trying to sell them something. Their guard will be up, and you don’t want to scare them away. Rather you want to give them a little nudge to go further down the funnel. Situational awareness is going to become a top skill for salespeople to master in order to have a successful 2023 and to navigate the buyer’s journey that will be resistant to sales touches.
Creating an immersive buying experience
Customers are going to want and expect a consistent and immersive buying experience in 2023. When you’re selling in the next year, the buyer’s journey is going to be an omnichannel one. With so many different touchpoints with your product, company and brand. It won’t be a linear journey, and that means that the potential buyer will come in and out of the journey at different times and paces. So how do you not lose them along the way? How do they stay engaged and immersed in the process despite having dozens of different touchpoints?
To overcome this challenge, consistency will be key. Consistency in their experience with your product. With your brand and with you. This also means that the communication coming from your side should be consistent as well. Regardless of where they come in and out of the funnel, the experience should be in tune, and they should feel like they never missed a beat despite maybe going cold for a few weeks. If everything is aligned on their buyer’s journey and feels like a continuous experience that they can jump in and out of at any time, it creates an immersive experience for them. Which will help you be the product or service that they decide to go with in the end.
These are some of the many sales challenges for 2023 that sellers are going to face in the coming year. There are likely more that may come up or become apparent as the year progresses, but taking a look from now, December 2022, these are the ones that stand out and will require proper attention. So steel yourselves for the year ahead and leverage these trends to give yourself the best start possible.