Just like every year before it, 2022 comes with its unique challenges and changes — and the sales landscape isn’t exempt from those kinds of shifts.
The sales game won’t look the same as it does a year from now, and it can be a big help to get ahead of those transitions early on. To help you get there, we reached out to some sales leaders to hear their takes on what salespeople can expect to see in the coming year.
So without further ado, here are some of the most pressing, prominent sales trends to keep an eye out for in 2022.
1. Demos need to sell the problem, not the solution.
Imagine selling a book. You could recite a few stats about its weight and dimensions, but you’d probably have more success selling the story inside — and how it can improve the reader’s life.
Now think of your sales demos. How much time are you dedicating to the bells and whistles of your product instead of the problems it can solve?
Dan Tyre, Inbound Fellow at HubSpot, stresses this point by telling me, “Prospects are less interested in ‘seeing how it works’ and more interested in making sure you understand their needs, have a comprehensive idea of their requirements, and that the product will work.”
In other words, your product expertise only gets you so far. Instead, it’s about your ability to uncover what your prospect truly cares about.
Robert Falcone, the author of Just F*ing Demo!, echoes this, saying, “If you know what their primary concerns are, you can show them just enough of your product that aligns with their immediate problems and get a better result.”
2. Quality relationships will require a multi-touch approach.
Rarely do we make a sale at first contact with a prospect — although that would be nice. In reality, it’s a process that requires multiple touchpoints in multiple forms.
But here’s the problem — the average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a prospect.
In 2022, it’s critical to apply a multi-touch approach to build quality relationships.
“The long-term trend is going to be about meaningful interaction, communication, relationship building, and problem-solving,” Judson Griffin, Intercom’s Senior Director of NORPAC Sales, told me.
Dan Tyre explains further: “A solid sales trend I see in 2022 is the utilization of a multi-touch connection process that absolutely includes a ‘warm call’ on the telephone that can be a first step in starting a sales conversation.”
In other words, if you’re looking to escape that initial cold call, you’re out of luck. And the conversation doesn’t end there — you also need to nurture your leads through a variety of methods, like email, phone, video, text, and social.
3. The hierarchical nature of sales will flatten.
Help Scout’s VP of Sales, Stuart Blake, believes over the next five years, we’ll see a flattening of the hierarchical nature of sales organizations.
He says, “This has been happening for the last five to 10 years, but I hypothesize that it will accelerate over the next five. The main reasons why I foresee this is because more people are working from home — leading to more focus on the output of work, the leveraging of technology to get that output, and cleaner communication.”
Blake adds, “There is also this larger sentiment in the air that we must simplify things, and therefore, processes. This move might end up being short-lived, but I think we’ll see a shift of more doers and less managers on sales teams over the next five years.”
Take this time to re-consider your existing strategy. You might determine there are more effective ways to organize your sales organization structure — enabling new opportunities for your sales rep as the industry evolves.
4. Calling through your CRM.
On average, a sales rep spends only 28% of their day actually selling. The rest is spent on internal meetings, trainings, and prospecting.
So how can you leverage what little time you have for selling? Increasingly, the solution is a trusty CRM. Specifically, a CRM with call tracking features, which enables you to reach more leads with less effort.
Dan Tyre advised sales reps to take advantage of these tools, saying, “Most modern CRM’s allow you to call right through your technology, eliminating silos of wasted information, improving sales productivity, and allowing for review of recorded calls for training purposes.”
Dean Moothart, Director of Client Solutions at LeadG2, adds, “Things like email templates, call recording functionality and calendar management links are new features that are taking sales productivity to the next level.”
5. Specialization in vertical markets.
In modern sales, “the riches are in the niches.” In other words, when you try to appeal to everyone, the opposite happens: you end up resonating with no one.
While targeting smaller markets doesn’t seem like sound business advice, it’s a surprisingly beneficial strategy. As Dan Tyre explains, “Although it’s somewhat counterintuitive, the more focused your ideal customer profile the faster traction you should get.”
For instance, suppose you’re on a clean-eating kick. Which option are you most drawn to — a big-name grocery store or a health food store specializing in organic food?
On the sales side, targeting your audience can save you a lot of time, money, and energy from chasing the “wrong” leads.
Trish Saemann, the founder of True North, underscores this point, saying, “When you focus your energy on targeting a narrower audience, your message can be more customized. Customized messages are the ones that get the real engagement, and when that happens, there is a higher chance they will trust you to understand their needs. They will know you are a good fit for them.”
In 2022, we predict sales teams will continue “niche-ing down” to appeal to specialized markets and reaping the benefits of a smaller — but more engaged — audience.
6. Freemium will kick-start the sales conversation.
Have you ever tried on a pair of shoes before buying? Or took a food sample at Costco? We live in a “try before you buy” world — which might explain why so many businesses have struck gold with the freemium model.
This model splits users into either a free or premium tier. The idea is that free users will eventually burn through their limited features and upgrade to a paid account.
Since it eliminates the cost of having an account (at least initially), it’s a great way to create a natural lead nurturing process. As Tyre tells me, “Offering a free tool or widget, product trial, consultation, or services checklist can increase your visibility, awareness and opportunities for people who are early in the sales process.”
Of course, not every business is fit for this model. But if you’re a SaaS company — or offer tiered memberships – it can be a powerful way to acquire more customers without spending more money.
7. Leveraging executive sponsors to close the deal.
Creating a sense of urgency in the age of “Always Be Helping” is hard. It’s even harder when your primary contact doesn’t understand the value you can provide, or is new to the organization.
Instead of going around in circles, many sales reps are turning to executive sponsors to close deals.
There are two types of executive sponsors — one from your company (such as your manager or director) and another from the prospect’s (such as their boss or the CEO). They show a direct interest in the outcome of your solution.
They can push deals forward by tracking its progress, adding a fresh perspective to conversations, and accelerating decision making.
While having an executive sponsor doesn’t guarantee a deal, it definitely increases your odds. It also ensures a line of communication for the entire lifecycle of the deal – which is valuable whether you close the deal or not.
8. Sales culture becomes a top priority.
If there’s one thing that never goes out of style, it’s having a winning sales culture — and 2022 is no different. But what, exactly, is a good sales culture?
According to Dan Tyre, it involves “Having a solid sales rep employee persona, quality and quick recruiting process, and [a] supportive sales environment.”
While there are many ways to build a high-performing sales team, it should never fall to the bottom of the priority list. After all, how much a salesperson sells, how productive they are, and how long they stay at a company are all influenced by sales culture.
And it’s one thing to establish a sales culture — it’s another to ensure that you sustain those values as you scale and grow. By keeping culture top of mind, you can recruit great reps, promote healthy competition and collaboration, and drive results.
2022 is bound to come with a change of pace and a host of new trends and challenges. Though this list isn’t exactly set in stone, it’s a good place to start when hashing out what the sales landscape might look like over the next year.