Three key trends set to shape B2B selling in 2023

By Winnie Palmer, Head of Marketing EMEA, Seismic
Winnie Palmer, Head of Marketing for EMEA at Seismic, shares the three key trends and CX technologies that are set to shape B2B selling in 2023

It has been another bumpy year for B2B selling. Although many businesses entered 2022 with optimism for the year ahead, it quickly became clear that challenges such as The Great Resignation and evolving working habits – followed by global geopolitical and economic issues – would create new hurdles to overcome.

B2B organisations have had no choice but to remain agile and adapt their go-to-market (GTM) strategies. And this isn’t going to change as we head into the new year. With recessions and higher interest rates on the horizon, further steps will need to be taken to minimise risk and focus resources to deliver tangible business outcomes.

So, what does all this mean for the year ahead? What will be the key components of a successful B2B sales strategy in 2023? Here are three trends we can expect to shape the next 12 months.

1. No-touch selling

Throughout 2022, buyer behaviours have evolved to become primarily digital. According to LinkedIn’s 2022 State of Sales report, nearly 40% of sellers say that they have closed deals over $500,000 without ever meeting the buyer face-to-face. 

This preference for fully digital buyer journeys will gather momentum in 2023. B2B buyers will increasingly trust their own research through resources such as vendor comparisons and press materials – as well as webinars and other virtual events – to shape their decision making. Indeed, Gartner suggests that 33% of B2B buyers already desire a seller-free sales experience.

As a result, sellers will have to change their approach. Instead of relying on several meetings to build their case, their focus must be on ensuring maximum impact in a limited number of interactions. Sellers will have to find ways to meet buyers where they are and deliver the practical, situation-specific information that is most likely to influence buyer decision-making without ever being in the same room.

This can be achieved by analysing the data captured from buyer interactions at every stage of the sales cycle to understand the behaviours and activities that will deliver the best outcomes. Or sellers can leverage content engagement insights to identify and create the most effective content for specific buyer personas. Ultimately, it all comes down to identifying the content that has been proven to accelerate purchasing decisions and connecting this content with internal coaching and outreach workflows to optimise sales operations.

2. Putting the person into personalisation

Warm outreach has become increasingly important as a sales tactic over recent months. Indeed, only 21% of buyers prefer cold calls as an outreach method, highlighting how today’s generation of B2B buyers – with Gen X and Millennials increasingly taking the reins from Baby Boomers – want to be engaged with. 

In 2023, B2B sellers will have to go deeper with personalisation to show that they truly know their customers. Buyers will expect personalised content and interactions more than ever before, particularly Gen X who value marketing that is personal, authentic and delivered by people they see as trusted advisors rather than sales reps. 

The most effective sellers will therefore be the ones who integrate personalisation throughout the buying journey, directly in conversation with buyers rather than as a generic marketing strategy. Part of this comes through research – taking the time to understand a buyer’s situation and potential needs by analysing the company and identifying any previous sales and marketing content the buyer has interacted with.

But the biggest impact will come by implementing AI-powered tools that enable in-depth personalisation at scale through any channel. As well as standardising content and data processes, such tools can provide content recommendations at both the persona and personal level. Sellers can then augment these recommendations with their own knowledge of the buyer, leading to more memorable and meaningful interactions that are tailored to the buyer’s specific use case. This will key to success in 2023.

3. Living in-the-moment

Today’s generation of B2B buyers are a demanding bunch. They expect fast and accurate answers to their questions and, as mentioned above, these answers must be tailored to their specific situation. As such, 2023 will see a shift towards real-time coaching and knowledge management, where sellers are empowered to access and apply knowledge in-the-moment during sales conversations.

Instead of having to follow up on conversations with prospects or spend hours searching through documents to find a specific piece of information, digital tools can serve up answers in real-time. They can deliver just-in-time insights and recommendations within sellers’ natural workflow, natively integrating with other sales tools such as CRM systems to provide a frictionless experience and enhance productivity. 

On the one hand, this can have a significant influence on seller engagement. A Gartner survey found that 89% of B2B sellers feel burned out from work, but helping sellers get the knowledge they need instantly through their working environment minimises digital fatigue. On the other hand, such tools enable anyone to become an expert on any topic. This provides superior buyer interactions, empowering sellers to solve customer problems and ultimately close more deals.

We all know there’s another challenging year ahead. The key for B2B sales teams will be to embrace behavioural shifts and deliver the experiences that modern buyers are looking for. That’s why in-the-moment guidance and coaching – along with a focus on personalisation and digital engagement – will all be so valuable in 2023 and beyond.

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