2023 The Year of the Sales Challenges

While things are moving back towards normalcy since the pandemic, selling has been irrevocably changed from just a few years ago. There are a host of new sales challenges in today’s world – building trust with clients in a virtual environment, struggling with productivity, moving towards a buyer-first mentality and more.

In the hopes of helping you overcome some of the sales challenges – we’ve done our research on five of the biggest sales challenges we reckon will be apart of 2023.

1. Building Trust in a Virtual World

According to Hubspot Strategic Channel Account Manager Chris Moore, the trend away from in-person interactions that caught steam in the pandemic is bound to be a game-changer. Salespeople are going to need to adapt their strategies and learn how to establish credibility with a virtual barrier between them and their prospects.

He says, “2023 is going to be a different year for salespeople as the sales landscape has changed so much. Before this year, sales reps could go onsite to build trust and demonstrate why their product was superior to their competition, and they’re no longer able to do that. Most companies I am working with are still not going into the office, so they have to figure out a way to build this trust virtually.”

How to Handle This Sales Challenge

So how can you handle this challenge? Well, according to Moore, it boils down to how effectively you can reconcile personalization and tech acumen. He says, “The salesperson who can leverage technology in a way to personalize that messaging virtually will win in 2023.

“Because there are so many salespeople reaching out via email and phone calls now as opposed to meeting with people in person, you have to figure out clever ways to get into these businesses with a personalized approach.”

2. Moving towards a customer-centric selling model

According to Kwesi Graves, VP of Sales at Scribe, prioritizing buyer interests will have more bearing on how reps conduct their sales efforts, going forward. He says, “When we think about the concept of buyer-first, it’s redefining the paradigm.

“We’re going to look at how buyers want to buy versus how we choose to sell to them. It’s all about mindset and scrapping out or wiping the hard drive from that old mindset, especially in the way we’re selling now in this market.”

How to Handle This Sales Challenge

Adopting a more consultative, helpful, empathetic approach to selling is the key to handling this challenge — taking steps like listening actively and having conversations tailored to getting at the “why” behind a sale will be key, going forward.

Sales efforts can’t be presentation-first anymore. You need to avoid “talking at” your prospects if you want to adapt to a buyer-first landscape. Emphasis has to be put on elements like extensive buyer research and relationship-building to adjust to a world where the buyer has the power.

Familiarize yourself with concepts like customer-centric selling. Learn how to conduct your sales efforts without pressuring buyers. Try to plan your efforts around your prospects’ timelines as opposed to your ideal schedule.

One way or another, acquaint yourself with your buyers’ unique challenges and put them first. Strides like the ones listed here provide the best avenues for you to better understand and adjust to a world where the buyer has a disproportionate amount of power in the prospect-salesperson dynamic.

3. 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. 

How to Handle This Sales Challenge

So to overcome the sales 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. 

4. Hop on the Automation and AI bandwagon

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?).

How to Handle This Sales Challenge

These sales challenges 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.

5. Data…Data Everywhere…

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. 

How to Handle This Sales Challenge

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.