B2B Sales Leader Questions and Considerations to Prepare for 2023

In a recent Televerde blog, we wrote about 6 Selling and Buying Trends to Watch in 2023. In this companion post, we examine some important corresponding questions and considerations B2B sales leaders should be asking not only themselves, but also of their sales reps and outsourced providers of lead generation, demand generation, and sales services they may be working with.

Sales team leaders need to be thinking now about how to be prepared for what’s to come in the challenging year ahead – a year that will most certainly be guided by continued economic uncertainty, labor/talent shortages, supply chain issues, budget belt-tightening, and rightfully demanding and cautious clients.

Being sales-ready for the coming year begins with internal soul-searching and asking tough questions, namely around the tools, resources, support, training, and market challenges sales teams will face in 2023. The answers – while not always easy to produce and always requiring a time-money/investment-ROI decision-making balancing act – will drive plans that need to be made and programs/approaches that need to be put in place.

A logical place to start is determining how to align the likely selling and buying trends that will take place with the preparation sales leaders and their teams need to address them.

Key Takeaways

  • Buyers are using more types of informational, influential, and purchasing channel options than ever before. Do you have the right engagement channels in place, and are they prime-time ready?
  • Coupled with a varied set of buyer-seller engagement channels is the right sales tech stack. Do you have the right tech installed in the right places within your set of funnel optimization systems and processes, and are they optimized?
  • Close alignment is needed between likely buying/selling trends and the skills of your sales reps. Are you planning to upskill and enable them? How?
  • If you’re not already using outsourced lead gen, demand gen, and sales partners to up your revenue growth game, connect with a broader swath of your markets, and generate primed leads for your sales reps, then now’s the time to seriously consider this option. if you are already engaged with partners, plan to not only upskill their game but also to learn from the experiences they’ve gained representing your solutions in the markets and accounts you’ve tasked them to target. Have you done/are you doing this?

Engagement Channels Considerations

The pandemic has accelerated the movement toward a remote/hybrid seller-buyer engagement model. It’s safer, convenient, affordable (i.e., less travel means reduced costs), and the pandemic has proven it works.

With this shift has come a proliferation of the number and types of online channels buyers now prefer to do their research, learn, be influenced, vet solution options, and purchase.

It’s not a bad thing for sellers; in fact, it can be even better because it enables more personalized and self-service approaches. Why? Customer engagement that’s more digitally driven comes with more behavior-related data points – many if not all of which can be used to create bespoke sales approaches. And in terms of self-service, this reduces many of your traditional model selling costs.

As a result, sales leaders should be asking themselves the following questions and working side-by-side with their marketing leader peers, sales reps, and partners to produce answers:

  • Have you developed the right variety of engagement channels available to your buyers, including both digital/remote and traditional?
  • If you have, which channels are working, and which need to be optimized to accommodate more of how your buyers want to use them?
  • Do you know how, when, and at what frequency in-person/face-to-face buyer interactions should still occur?
  • Have you created and aligned engagement expectations accordingly with your sales team, including the right mix and balance of approaches?

Tech Stack Considerations

With more buyer engagement channels comes the need for a more robust set of tech-driven behavior-driving and evaluation tools that can accommodate what you want to know about your buyers and when you want to know it.

Marketing automation and CRM platform tight integration is a table stake these days but, surprisingly, many selling organizations haven’t turned on all the bells and whistles that enable the full value of these vital tools to be realized.

A must-have data set these days is related to buyer intent signals, so you’ll need the right platform for your organization and the ability to integrate it with other tools in your tech stack, starting with your MAP and CRM.

As a sales leader who recognizes the importance of marketing alignment in order to optimize your revenue growth opportunities, ask yourself:

  • Do you have the right tech installed in the right places within your set of funnel optimization systems and processes?
  • If you acknowledge that intent data can provide you with useful buyer signals, what buyer intent system should you be using and what signals matter most to your sales organization?
  • How can your marketing automation platform be optimized to give you more of the value you want from it?
  • Are all the layers of your sales and marketing tech stack sufficiently integrated to tighten your lead and opportunity flow, including your ability to evaluate the related data points in a way that drives a stronger sales process?

Sales Capabilities Considerations

Sales alignment with buyer desires and requirements should be an ongoing conversation within your organization. But it needs to include an extra angle these days — one that addresses new buying trends, including more engagement channels, more hybrid/remote models, and more consultative and bespoke approaches based on buyer behavior data trails.

Sales leaders need to take a much more scrutinous look at the skills and capabilities of their sales team to determine if their sales reps are prepared and confident in their ability to address a rapidly evolving buying environment. If they’re not, then a stepwise upskilling initiative must be put into place and the appropriate actions should start now.

The best first step is an assessment of what each team member is or isn’t good at and is or isn’t confident enough about. Here are some important assessment areas and questions to ask each rep individually:

Ask them about the buying trends they’ve been observing in the markets and accounts they’ve been engaged with over the past 6-12 months. Drill down on their responses to get to the all-important “why” and “what” and “how” questions and answers:

WHY: Ask each rep and the team as a whole to express WHY they fee these trends are gaining momentum. Asking “why” is also a terrific enabler of creating deeper understanding.

WHAT: Ask them WHAT these changes mean in terms of the impact on their own ability to successful position and sell your solutions, as well as the impact on the company as a whole to be successful next year and beyond.

HOW: Then, ask them HOW they need to adjust their selling approaches to adapt, survive, and flourish given new market conditions.

As a sales leader, you should feel empowered to influence the conversation toward the trends you already know are happening. For example:

  • What new/additional buyer engagement channels do reps see gaining traction?
  • Are more hybrid/remote selling approaches needed and, if so, what should that look like?
  • Do your sales reps feel the need for more training to develop consultative sales skills? And, related to this, what resources do they feel are needed to help them create bespoke selling-buying experiences when necessary?

Their answers to your assessment questions should drive the training and enablement programs you need to quickly put in place.

Outsourced Partner Considerations

If you’re using an outsourced partner to support your lead gen, demand gen, and sales efforts, remember that since they’re an extension of your sales team they should be included in your considerations, question-asking, and preparation process for next year.

In fact, if your partnership is strategic and they’re a top-notch provider, plan to include them in the front-end planning part of your preparation process because there’s a strong likelihood they have direct, front-line experience with the new seller-buyer trends/dynamics and the adaptations needed to respond to them. And, hopefully, they’ve already adapted on your behalf and can share their learnings.

If you’re not already working with an outsourced sales support partner, then now’s the time to start evaluating the possibilities. The primary reason is that with B2B buying dynamics rapidly changing, third-party sales support providers that specialize in your markets and solutions should already be equipped to do the things that you feel your direct selling team isn’t currently capable of; meaning, an outsourced partnership can accelerate the plans you know you need to develop and execute internally, and they can be the leading-edge of your strategy.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help sales leaders lean into and properly align with the selling and buying trends and dynamics that will have a considerable influence on next year’s revenue growth for your organization.

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