The Greatest B2B Sales Hits of 2022
Welcome to a special winter holiday edition of The Closer.
As 2022 comes to a close, we thought it would be worthwhile to reflect on some of the most momentous and/or unexpected B2B sales news from the past year.
Below, you’ll find some of our favorite articles from 2022. But don’t worry, this isn’t a lazy clip show. We like to think of it more like a 2022 wrap-up 12-track playlist of The Closer’s Greatest Hits. Without further ado, it’s time to take a sales-y stroll down memory lane:
1. Super CRM
Closing deals faster than a speeding bullet. Leaping over objections in a single bound. As a salesperson, any of those superpowers would be pretty amazing. However, like earth’s sun gives Superman his powers, the oft-maligned CRM has the ability to transform reps into sales superheroes. Unfortunately, CRM has its own kind of Kryptonite: clunky UIs, extraneous fields, manual updates, and more. If you’re experiencing the limiting effect of these bonds, Gartner Senior Director Analyst, Dan Gottlieb, has some sage advice on how to turn your CRM into a superpower. Once you’ve unleashed the power of your CRM, you’ll see your revenue soar up, up, and away!
2. The great decline
No, we’re not talking about the end of civilization. That’s hopefully still a little ways off. But economic indicators are trending down, which is a concern for salespeople who like things headed up and to the right. As inflation and interest rates rise, we’re seeing a decline in all kinds of investments, including sales tech. That means less money to drive innovation. Before you get too upset, you may want to hear why Seth Marrs, Principal Analyst at Forrester, thinks it’s a good thing. According to Seth, a decline in sales tech innovation will cause vendors to shift their focus from product innovation to customer value. Check out the Forrester blog to learn three ways that sales tech will deliver greater customer value in today’s turbulent economy.
3. Follow the leaders
Unless it’s walking off a cliff or drinking Kool-Aid, following a leader is usually a smart decision. This is especially true when the stakes are high – like when you need to empower your revenue team to excel in a hybrid work world. If you happen to be in this situation, finding the right sales engagement platform for your business is probably on your to-do list. Fortunately, finding leaders is what Forrester does best. If you haven’t yet had a chance to check out the newly released “The Forrester Wave™: Sales Engagement Platforms, Q3 2022,” Forrester principal analyst Seth Marrs breaks down the key takeaways on his blog.
4. CRM adoption is a joke
When is a salesperson not a salesperson? When they’re updating their CRM. We apologize if you were expecting a joke, but there’s nothing funny about CRM adoption challenges. In fact, according to rough calculations by Gartner analyst Robert Blaisdell, “CRM adoption culture” is the butt of 1 out of every 5 sales jokes on Instagram. According to Blaisdell, this lack of adoption has caused CRM to go from being a “single source of truth” to “the source of enough truth to automate key workflows across the business.” Check out the Gartner blog to learn about the technology innovations that enable revenue teams to improve CRM adoption – because your CRM should be all about the bottom line, not the punchline.
5. A hairy situation
As a profession, sales is not for the faint of heart. When it comes to the ease with which you’re able to blow past rejection and close a deal, it helps if you have tenacity, grit, and drive. And, perhaps a beard. It turns out that for male salespeople, a bit of scruff can do wonders for building trust. A recent research study reported by the Wall Street Journal found that salesmen with beards were rated substantially higher for trustworthiness and expertise than their clean-shaven brethren. Not to leave out women, the study also found that “glamor” make-up can also affect trustworthiness – but in the opposite way. Unfortunately, the researchers didn’t look into the man-bun.
6. The Sales Tech Mayhem After-Party
Everyone loves a good party, but it’s the after-party where things get really interesting. For fans of AppleTV+ series The Afterparty, we’re not talking about murder. Although, as we transition to the topic of Sales Tech, it’s fair to say that this category is really killing it. A year ago, Gartner began chronicling its rise in its “Sales Tech Mayhem” blog series. Since then, it has periodically checked in on myriad mergers and acquisitions, with the latest post being: “115 Reasons to Attend the Sales Tech Mayhem After-Party.” And yes, the sales tech party is still raging, even as Gartner analyst Dan Gottlieb puts it, “The DJ blasts the recession air horn.”
7. Reducing drag
The Toyota Prius is ugly. But here’s the thing: all that ugliness leads to crazy aerodynamics. By reducing drag, Toyota was able to generate record MPG and public ridicule, all at the same time. Sales reps aren’t cars, but sales leaders often focus too much on drive and not enough on drag. Drive is important, but most sellers already have that. According to a Gartner survey of 800 B2B sellers, what’s often holding reps back is drag. You can learn about the impact of drag on sellers and what to do about it in the latest post from Gartner analyst Colleen Giblin. Sellers with high drive and low drag have a mean quota attainment that is 1.7 times higher than high-drag sellers. There’s nothing ugly about that.
8. Leveling up in a downturn
Aside from possibly Twinkies, DMV lines, and Mick Jagger, nothing lasts forever. This fact sadly holds true for stock market bull runs. As companies face the realities of an economic downturn, they’ve got a lot of important decisions to make. As a sales leader, you may be wondering about the best course of action. Nancy Maluso, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester, has anticipated your ruminations and has put together a little something she likes to call the “B2B Sales Leaders’ Guide To Sales Strategy Amid Economic Downturns.” If past economic downturns are any indication, companies that take swift and decisive action will be the ones who level up while others wind down.
9. World of Work-Craft
A lot has happened in twenty years. Yes, you can still go on epic quests battling orcs and trolls, but the experience has changed dramatically. Of course, we’re referring to World of Warcraft, but we could also be talking about the evolving state of work – albeit with less otherworldly beings and more Zoom meetings. This new “world of work” has released a hybrid-mode expansion pack that offers knowledge workers greater flexibility to work from anywhere. To understand how employers can properly support employees in this new hybrid work world, Citrix conducted an extensive study involving 1,800 workers around the world. The data clearly shows that hybrid work is here to stay, but just as you wouldn’t engage a horde of demons without a good runeblade, you want to be prepared.
10. Show me the money
In hindsight, Jerry Maquire should have known what truly motivated his clients. Experienced sales leaders have no delusion about why their reps show up for work every morning. Sure, sales reps are a competitive bunch who like to win, but glory is not enough – they also want to get paid. So how exactly is that working out for reps these days? Sales community Bravado just published its 2022 State of Sales Compensation Guide, which reveals key trends in sales compensation. It also takes a look at quota attainment and remote work trends. It doesn’t look at how many times buyers said “you had me at hello.”
11. Sales leader survey says…
Ask four hundred sales leaders about their favorite character on Friends, and you’ll get six different answers – seven if you count “Joey, and how is this relevant?” However, ask the same leaders about the future of sales, and you’ll identify some important trends that need to be addressed. According to extensive research from McKinsey & Company, the nature of B2B sales has changed over the past two years, and only 55% of leaders believe their teams have the required capabilities to thrive in this new environment. The good news is that there are three important shifts revenue teams can make to outperform the competition. B2B sales has changed, and Joey would like to know, “How you doin’?”
12. Chance of a full return to office is very remote
Remember when the vaccines came out and businesses started to make “return to office” plans? Or how about when cases started to spike again and all those dates got pushed out? Not good times. Fast forward to today, and the omicron variant is making one thing clear: remote work isn’t going away any time soon – or as some experts put it, “the idea of a full return is dead.” If you’re wondering how corporations are responding, you’re not alone. NBC News just published an exposé on return-to-office initiatives and the rise of remote work. On the plus side, remote work is working, and most workers are quite happy with the arrangement.
I think we can all agree that 2022 was a roller-coaster of a year. We’re not yet sure if the ride operators will be sending us on another loop around the track, but whatever happens, The Closer will be here to keep you company.
As a faithful reader, we’d like to thank you for indulging us in our sometimes irreverent, but hopefully always valuable, take on the latest sales news, insights, and best practices.
This is our last The Closer of 2022, but don’t fret. We’ll be back on January 6.
Until then, may your negotiations be shrewd, your red-lines brief, and your commissions overflowing.
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