We surveyed over 1,000 sales professionals around the globe to find out the top sales trends of 2022, and one thing is certain – the pandemic made a lasting impact on the relationship between salespeople and their prospects.
Building trust and rapport, crafting a personalized sales approach, and prioritizing existing customers are more important than ever to a successful sales strategy that not only attracts customers, but turns them into promoters of your brand.
To help you tap into these powerful trends and reach your sales goals, we surveyed B2B and B2C salespeople and sales leaders in the U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, Australia, France, and Germany. If you’re looking for a specific insight, you can skip ahead to these sections:
- The Top Sales Trends
- The Top Sales Goals
- The Top Sales Challenges
- Top Sales Metrics to Track
- Top Sales Channels
- Sales Culture In 2022
- Sales Rep Performance in 2021 vs. 2022
Let’s start by taking a look at how the sales field has changed from 2021 to 2022, and dive into the biggest sales trends of the year.
The Top Sales Trends of 2023
Before we dive into the top goals, challenges, and opportunities of sales professionals around the globe, here's a quick rundown of the top five industry trends we're seeing, which you'll read even more about throughout this post:
- Sales teams are focused on establishing trust and rapport with prospects.
- Selling by offering a solution rather than pitching a product/service is key to sales pros.
- Personalization is more important than ever.
- Serving existing customers takes priority over finding new ones.
- The number of interactions with prospects during the sales process is growing.
These changes align with the top goals sales professionals have for 2022, so let’s take a look at their priorities for the year and how they intersect with this changing sales landscape.
For more on the specific trends we saw in this particular survey, as well as sales themes that experts in the industry are pointing out, check out this post.
The Top Sales Goals of 2023
The top sales goals of 2022 are exceeding sales targets/quotas, making the sales process more efficient, upselling/cross-selling existing customers, winning more market share, improving sales/marketing alignment, and leveraging your CRM to its full potential.
Goal 1: Exceeding Sales Targets and Quotas
While this top goal might not have changed from previous years, the way salespeople are achieving this goal reflects a heightened focus on building rapport with prospects, understanding their needs, and helping them solve business challenges.
Of course, the strategies used will depend on whether they sell B2B or B2C, so let’s dive into how B2B sales professionals are getting ahead first, then take a look at the top B2C strategies.
How B2B Sales Pros Are Exceeding Targets/Quotas
Setting up face-to-face meetings and selling prospects on a solution are the most effective B2B sales strategies for converting new customers:
When it comes to selling to existing customers, offering discounts/promotions and understanding the key business challenges they are facing are the top strategies:
How B2C Sales Pro Are Exceeding Targets/Quotas
Establishing rapport, offering discounts and promotions, membership rewards programs, and optimizing your e-commerce site are the most effective B2C strategies for converting new customers:
When it comes to selling to existing customers, the top strategies are similar, with the addition of running retargeting programs:
Since establishing rapport is so crucial to both B2B and B2C sales, let’s take a look at the most effective strategies for building relationships when selling.
How Salespeople Build Rapport When Selling
The biggest change sales pros are seeing in their field this year is the growing importance of building rapport with prospects.
The most effective strategies for building rapport are being attentive and engaged, staying positive, and finding common ground:
Doing research on your prospect and their company is also a top strategy that we’ll get dive into more later on.
Goal 2: Making the Sales Process More Efficient
Over one in five sales professionals say the biggest reason prospects back out of deals is because the sales process takes too long. Having an efficient sales process is key to avoiding this, so here are a few ways salespeople are streamlining their sales process.
One way to make the sales process more efficient is by offering prospects solutions rather than simply pitching your product/service. While this requires a bit more research on your part, this personalized approach will make it easier for the prospect to see how your offer will benefit them. It also builds trust and rapport as prospects can tell you’ve done your homework and understand their business and its unique pain points.
It’s also hard to have an efficient sales process when sales professionals are seeing increased numbers of touchpoints and interactions with prospects, across a wide range of platforms.
Both B2B and B2C sales involve an average of over 6 separate communications with a prospect, across two to three separate channels. Some B2B and B2C salespeople even communicate with prospects upwards of 16 times (7% and 6%, respectively).
To make things more complicated, in B2B sales, between 4-5 individuals from the prospects’ company are involved in the sales process, as well as around 3 decision-makers.
This is why having a CRM to keep track of those conversations is more important than ever for giving your prospects an efficient and personalized experience. In fact, 20% of salespeople who use a CRM say the top benefit is streamlining the sales cycle, but we’ll talk more about the benefits of leveraging your CRM to its fullest potential (goal #6) later on.
Goal 3: Prioritizing Existing Customers
The number three goal of sales professionals in 2022 is up-selling and/or cross-selling existing customers. This is directly in line with one of the biggest changes sales professionals are seeing in their field this year – an increased focus on prioritizing existing customers over new ones. Let’s start by looking into the top up-selling strategies.
Almost 90% of sales professionals try to upsell their customers.
The most effective strategies for upselling new customers are understanding their needs/goals, establishing trust and rapport, offering discounts/promotions, clearly demonstrating the value of upgrading, and doing research on their business as well as their customer journey:
But when is the right opportunity to upsell? Salespeople say the best time to upsell is after successfully meeting your client’s goals, followed by when you find an issue with their strategy your product/service can solve, and while setting goals with the client.
We also asked salespeople how much of their company revenue comes from upselling:
Fast Fact: Almost half of companies see 11-30% of their revenue come from upselling
Around 80% of sales professionals cross-sell. And, the most effective strategies for cross-selling are offering discounts/promotions, recommending related or complementary products/services, email follow-ups, and offering bundles:
Here’s the percentage of company revenue that comes from cross-selling:
Fast Fact: 42% of companies see 11-30% of their revenue come from cross-selling
Goal 4: Winning More Market Share
Another top goal among sales professionals is winning more market share. While this can be accomplished by most of the strategies in this report, a few we haven’t touched on are sales enablement content, freemium/free trial options, discounts and promotions, and down-selling.
Sales Enablement Content
While just 37% of salespeople use sales enablement content in their role, 88% of those using it say it is moderately to extremely important to making a sale.
Additionally, just 36% of sales professionals say their company has a dedicated sales enablement team. Does it make a difference? Our data shows that salespeople at businesses with a dedicated sales enablement team perform better than those at companies that don’t.
You may also be wondering what kind of sales enablement content sales professionals are using, and which is most effective. Salespeople use market research, customer testimonials, reviews, email templates, and social media content the most:
When it comes to helping salespeople win deals, product demos, customer testimonials, reviews, market research, and social media content are most effective.
Another way to win market share is offering a freemium version of your product/service, or a free trial. Up next, let’s look into how effective those are to turn prospects into paying customers.
Freemium/Free trial Is Highly Effective
32% of sales professionals offer prospects freemium/free trial options, and about 90% of them say freemium and free trial options are moderately to extremely effective at turning prospects into paying customers.
Before we get into the most effective free options, let’s take a look at the biggest benefits of offering them. The top benefits of offering free trials include building brand loyalty, a low barrier to entry, encouraging people to promote your product/service to others, and growing your user base.
So which free options are most effective at turning prospects into paying customers? Free trials take the top spot, followed by offering a freemium tier, and free consultations.
While free trials are the most used and most effective, they have to end eventually. The most common restrictions placed on free trials are usage quotas, feature limitations, and limited customer support.
Along with free offerings giving discounts/promotions are also highly effective strategies, so let’s take a look at which ones work best.
2 in 3 Salespeople Offer Discounts/Promotions
Before we get into the most effective discounts/promotions, let’s see what the biggest benefits salespeople are seeing from offering them. Increased sales and customer loyalty are the biggest benefits, followed by drawing in new customers and rewarding existing ones:
The most effective discounts/promotions for converting new customers are bundling a suite of products, offering free trials, loyalty programs, deals for best-fit customers, and sign-up promotions.
When it comes to upselling/cross-selling, the most effective discounts/promotions are bundling a suite of products, loyalty programs, extended payment terms, extended-use terms, and free shipping.
A Quarter of Salespeople Downsell
Sometimes, it can also be a good strategy to down-sell, though only 27% of sales professionals do so.
The most effective down-selling strategies are recommending different products, communicating secondary offers on exit-intent, and reducing the scope of the client’s goals.
Goal 5: Improving Sales-Marketing Alignment
Sales professionals say the importance of collaboration between sales and marketing teams is one of the most impactful changes they’re seeing in their field in 2022. 45% also say sales/marketing alignment became more important from 2021 to 2022.
On top of that, 24% of sales leaders say improving sales/marketing alignment is one of their top goals in 2022.
Currently, just 23% of sales professionals say sales and marketing are very aligned, while 56% say they are somewhat aligned, and another 21% say these teams are not aligned at their company.
So why should companies prioritize aligning sales and marketing? For starters, salespeople at companies with aligned sales and marketing teams perform better:
If you’re still not convinced, the top benefits of sales and marketing teams being aligned are that it increases revenue, improves the customer experience, improves lead quality, helps you close more deals, and helps you understand your customers better.
The benefits of sales/marketing alignment are clear, but what happens when these teams are misaligned?
The biggest impacts of disconnected sales and marketing teams are lost sales/revenue, a poor customer experience, loss of qualified leads, lack of a unified strategy between the teams, and wasted marketing budget.
Sales and marketing alignment can be a broad term, so we also asked sales pros where it is most important for the two teams to be aligned. The most crucial areas of sales/marketing alignment are the overall marketing strategy, s+haring customer feedback, sharing customer information, sharing market research, and content creation.
Despite the importance of sales and marketing being unified on these points, it can be a challenge to achieve alignment. The biggest obstacles to sales/marketing alignment are lack of effective communication, lack of alignment on goals/strategies, and lack of input from sales on marketing content.
Many of these issues stem from a lack of communication, disparate tools, and difficulty sharing data. One way to solve these issues is leveraging a CRM, as 79% of sales professionals say their CRM is moderately to extremely effective at improving sales-marketing alignment.
We also asked sales professionals what they need most from their marketing team. The top thing salespeople need from their marketing team is higher quality leads, followed by alignment on goals/strategy, better sales/enablement content, and more transparency into what marketing content is most effective.
As higher quality leads are the #1 thing sales professionals need from their marketing team, let’s see how the salespeople in our survey rate the quality of the leads they currently get.
When we asked salespeople to describe the leads they get from their marketing team, 45% said they are average quality, 41% describe them as high quality, and 14% say they are low quality.
Goal 6: Leveraging Your CRM to Its Fullest Potential
Sales professionals say another one of the most impactful changes they’re seeing in 2022 is the growing importance of tracking and organizing data with a CRM. 85% of them also say their CRM is somewhat to very important to the sales process.
On top of that, 22% of sales leaders say leveraging their CRM to its fullest potential is one of their top goals in 2022.
So what are the benefits of using a CRM? It helps salespeople keep track of their leads, acts as a centralized database, improves customer retention, helps share data across their organization, and offers detailed analytics and reports.
Now that we’ve gone over the top sales goals of 2022, let’s take a look at what salespeople are struggling with most this year.
The Top Sales Challenges of 2023
The top challenges salespeople face in 2022 are standing out from the competition, meeting quotas, getting in direct contact with decision-makers, a lack of high-quality leads, and keeping prospects engaged throughout the sales process.
We also asked sales professionals why prospects back out of deals - the top reasons are not being ready to make a purchase, not being convinced the product/service is worth the price, not being convinced the product/service is right for them, not being able to get approval from decision-makers, and the sales process taking too long.
To begin fixing many of these issues, salespeople need to keep an eye on a wide variety of metrics that reflect the health of their sales process. But which ones should you be tracking, and which are most important? Let’s take a look.
The Metrics Salespeople Track
The top metrics salespeople track are average profit margin, sales productivity, YoY growth, revenue from new vs. existing customers, average revenue per user, and win rate.
The most important metrics salespeople are tracking are similar, with the addition of conversion rate, quota attainment, and customer acquisition cost.
Win rate, close rate, and deal size are undeniably highly important metrics for sales pros to track, so let’s see how they have changed over the past year.
Nearly half of salespeople say the average win rate has stayed the same, while 38% saw an increase and 13% report a decrease.
Over half of salespeople say the average close rate stayed the same from 2021 to 2022, while 35% saw an increase and 12% report a decrease.
Lastly, 56% of salespeople say the average deal size stayed the same from 2021 to 2022, while over 1 in 3 saw an increase, and 8% saw a decrease.
Sales leaders are also tracking rep productivity metrics, so let’s see which metrics sales leaders are keeping tabs on and which are most important.
We asked sales leaders (managers, directors, VPs, and executives) which sales rep productivity metrics they track. Here’s what they told us:
The #1 metric sales leaders track is CRM usage, followed by calls made, and emails sent. When we ask sales leaders to choose the three most important metrics they track, calls made and CRM usage rise to the top again, with the addition of tracking the number of follow-ups from high-quality leads:
Next, let’s pivot to sales channels. Which are most effective overall, and which shine when selling remotely? Let’s find out.
Top Sales Channels
In-person meetings are the most effective sales channel, followed by phone calls, social media, email, and video calls.
When it comes to remote selling, phone calls, emails, and video chat are most effective:
On the topic of communicating with prospects, let’s look into where salespeople are getting high-quality leads from in 2022.
Where the Highest Quality Leads Come From
Where are salespeople getting the highest quality leads? 66% say referrals from existing customers offer the best leads, followed by social media, tradeshows and events, telemarketing, and inbound marketing.
But how has lead quality changed from 2021 to 2022? 44% of salespeople say lead quality improved in 2022, while a nearly equal amount say it hasn't changed, and 13% say it got worse.
Another question we asked sales professionals is how many new leads they get in the average week.
Fast Fact: Nearly 60% of sales professionals get 1-40 new leads per week, while 28% get over 40 a week.
Hopefully, some of those leads are turning into prospects, so here’s the amount of prospects the average salesperson is currently moving through the sales process:
Fast Fact: 78% of sales professionals are currently moving 1-40 prospects through the sales process.
Social media offers the 2nd highest quality leads, so let’s see how salespeople are leveraging social selling in 2022.
Social Selling Trends in 2023
56% of sales professionals use social media to find new prospects. 75% of salespeople use Facebook to find leads, followed by Instagram, Linkedin, and YouTube.
But which are the most effective? Among those who use them, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok are the best platforms for finding new prospects.
But the social platforms that work best for B2B salespeople may not be as effective for B2C, and vice versa. Let’s take a look at which platforms lead for each.
While generally similar, the biggest difference is that B2B salespeople are seeing more success finding new prospects on LinkedIn than B2C.
Aside from finding prospects, social media is also used for researching prospects and their businesses by 55% of sales professionals, and doing this type of research is a top strategy for building rapport. When it comes to doing research on prospects, LinkedIn is the most effective, followed by Facebook and Instagram.
Another huge part of sales is the internal culture, which can have a huge impact on both individual and company-wide success. Let’s see how sales professionals view sales culture and which aspects are most important for their success.
Sales Culture in 2023
Does sales culture really matter? Salespeople overwhelmingly say it does, with 86% saying it is important to job satisfaction. Not only that, but 88% say sales culture is important to meeting their overall sales goals.
When it comes to setting salespeople up for success and keeping them motivated, clear goals and expectations, trust among reps and between reps and sales leaders, a fair compensation structure, and recognition for achievements are key.
On the other hand, the aspects of sales culture that negatively impact sales reps’ ability to succeed are high turnover, lack of recognition for achievements, toxic competition, a lack of trust, and a lack of clear goals and expectations.
Since high turnover is the #1 factor negatively impacting sales professionals, let’s take a look at the top reasons people quit their sales jobs.
The top reasons for turnover in sales positions are stress, burnout, lack of work/life balance, inadequate compensation/benefits, and lack of support from management/leadership.
Sales leaders also play a huge role in shaping sales culture. The most important traits in an effective sales leader are good listening skills, the ability to motivate their team, adaptability, willingness to be “in the field” and coach their team, and empathy.
Aside from sales culture, there are so many factors that can influence the performance of sales professionals. Let’s see how the sales pros in our survey performed in 2021 and 2022.
Sales Rep Performance in 2022 vs. 2023?
42% of salespeople exceeded their sales goals in 2021. While a similar amount simply met their sales goals last year, just 16% underperformed.
In 2022, 41% of sales professionals exceeded their sales goals, and an equal amount met their sales goals. 18% of salespeople say they performed worse than their sales goals in 2022.
While the decrease in performance in 2022 is minor, we also asked remote and hybrid salespeople if selling remotely has impacted their ability to sell.
Just one in five say selling remotely has made their jobs harder. 36% of remote/hybrid salespeople actually say selling remotely has made selling easier, while 43% say it has no impact.
Additionally, we asked hybrid salespeople how selling remotely compares to selling in person, and here we can see that 46% say selling remotely is less effective. However, almost 1 in 4 say selling remotely is more effective, and 31% say they are about the sameSo there are some conflicting views on the effectiveness of remote selling, but is the model here to stay?
How Sales Reps Sell In 2022
We asked sales leaders which sales model reps will follow this year, and about half will sell both in-person and remotely, while 32% will be selling in-person and 17% will sell remotely.
Finally, let’s dive into the strategies and practices that set high-performing salespeople apart from low-performers.
What Sets High-Performing Salespeople Apart?
We split our data by those who are exceeding their sales goals and those who are falling below their targets. The results highlight the value of sales/marketing alignment, using a CRM to track and analyze data, social selling, and having a dedicated sales enablement team:
Most notably, high-performing salespeople are:
- 35% more likely to say sales/marketing has become more aligned at their company from 2021 to 2022
- 19% more likely to analyze their data to optimize the sales process (B2B)
- 17% more likely to describe their CRM as very important to the sales process
- 14% more likely to describe sales/marketing as strongly aligned at their company
- 12% more likely to use social media when selling
- 12% more likely to work at a company with a dedicated sales enablement team
Putting Your Prospects In the Spotlight
To sum up the trends we discovered in our survey, putting your prospects and customers at the center of your sales efforts is key to success in 2022 and beyond.
Here are some final tips to achieve that:
- Be intentional about building trust and rapport throughout the sales process
- Implement a highly personalized sales strategy by doing research on prospects and the ways your offering can address their business challenges/opportunities
- Connect your sales and marketing teams by aligning on a common strategy, opening communication channels, and sharing customer data and feedback.
- Leverage your CRM to its fullest potential to accomplish all of the above
- Build an incentive-based sales culture rooted in trust, recognition, and collaboration
Looking for more tips and insights on how to evolve your sales strategy? Check out the free resource below.