2023 will be the year of business activation for B2B sales

Patrick Welch, Chairman of Bigtincan.

With 2022 in the rearview mirror, it’s a perfect time to step back and assess what it has taught us about the state of B2B sales. Virtual sales to digitally-facing customers continued to gain momentum; linear sales models are becoming obsolete; and evolving buyer preferences, such as the desire for more rep-free experiences and self-directed purchases, render traditional activation tactics ineffective. Most importantly, it is now no longer possible to reach agreement between sales, marketing and customer success departments to exceed quotas and meet business objectives.

All of these trends point to an overarching theme. The changing dynamics of B2B sales and current economic conditions have enabled the importance of innovation in sales. Organizations are learning that a sole focus on enabling the individual seller is no longer driving pipeline growth. Instead, it’s about unifying customer contact information with automated feedback loops that provide end-to-end visibility. (I detailed the intricacies of enabling monetization in a previous article.)

I think B2B sales leaders will build on this momentum in the year ahead. With a potential recession on the horizon, the 2023 winners will be those companies that embrace the value of business enablement: a more holistic and ROI-focused model that drives both the top and bottom line.

3 pillars of the Business Enablement Framework

Unlike Revenue Enablement’s “growth at any cost” approach, Business Enablement is focused on driving efficient growth at scale. It ensures organizations are better positioned to weather economic downturns because every function of the revenue engine is built to maximize ROI. Leveraging strategies such as sales learning, content, and engagement automation tools, business enablement provides data-driven guidance that empowers businesses to succeed.

1. Build sales readiness in customer-facing teams

Customer-facing teams are the wheels that turn the revenue engine, so they must be positioned to maximize productivity. Therefore, a well-facilitated approach to professional development is critical. Older practices like one-size-fits-all onboarding and ad-hoc training lack the personalization that today’s sellers need to be buyer-ready. Instead, organizations should integrate personalized training and coaching into their activation framework.

A useful approach to dynamic learning is the integrated adoption of sales support automation. These technologies enable customer-facing teams to master skills development and knowledge retention at scale. Team members can learn at their own pace in a style that suits them best, whether it be just-in-time training, curated learning courses, continuous everboarding, or AI-led custom learning paths tailored to their role, skill level, and gaps . Regardless of their preferred approach, letting salespeople control when and how they learn helps foster a company-wide culture of empowerment that drives efficiency and performance.

Outside of technology, organizational alignment at the managerial level is another piece of the personalization puzzle. Since sales managers are the bridge that connects automated insights to the human representative, it’s important to give them the right guidance and resources for effective peer-to-peer engagement. Are they strong communicators and active listeners? Can they tailor their coaching approach to different learning styles? Do they have enough bandwidth to give the personal attention each rep deserves? These questions should be top of mind.

2. Leading Prospects for Smart Buying Decisions

Enabling B2B prospects to make the right purchases at the right time promotes efficient revenue growth by building trust. According to Gartner’s Future of Sales report, B2B customers spend less than a quarter of their buyer journeys in interaction with sellers. Since an average deal involves multiple suppliers, an individual salesperson only gets about 5%-10% of that customer’s time. So it is imperative to maximize the value and relevance of every interaction with the buyer.

It’s vital that reps understand how to deliver impactful sales content and messaging that directly aligns with the specific needs of the B2B buyer’s business and industry. Customer-facing assets must articulate a product’s value proposition in a way that alleviates the complexity of purchasing decisions. It should clearly state how the product or service addresses the prospect’s key pain points. That’s why it’s important for reps to understand which assets resonate with prospects so they can leverage them appropriately.

3. Train channel partners for organizational alignment

Strong third-party relationships are a fundamental driver of efficient revenue growth, so it’s critical that channel partners are in a position to represent an organization effectively. By establishing alignment across partnerships, organizations can ensure that each function of their revenue engine has consistent messaging and engagement tactics.

Channel partners must have adequate access to the same tools that internal sellers use. It gives them a deeper and more intuitive understanding of the product, so when it comes time to engage prospects, they know how to demonstrate its features in a way that educates and generates interest. For example, a channel partner’s employees can interact with automation tools such as immersive VR-based product displays. For companies without sales support automation in their tech stack, establishing an open line of communication with channel partners is critical.

Approaching revenue activities with a holistic, efficiency-driven mindset will support 2023 winners in B2B sales. With the right business support framework, organizations can forge sustainable paths to profitability in volatile times.

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