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From Reshuffling to Retention, These Trends Will Define B2B Sales in 2022

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The world of B2B sales has undergone significant transformation over the past two years, and while some changes are starting to settle in as the new normal, I anticipate 2022 will bring yet another round of shifts. To find success in this new year, sales leaders and reps will need to be agile in order to adapt to changing technologies, ever-evolving buying behaviors, and regulatory requirements. 

Here are the trends that I believe will have the most significant impact on sales teams in 2022—and my thoughts on how to prepare.

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Hybrid selling is the new normal

While more people may return to the office in early 2022, that doesn’t mean B2B buyers want to return to in-person meetings. Virtual selling isn’t a fad—it’s a permanent shift in sales norms.

A recent McKinsey survey found that 80 percent of B2B decision-makers consider omnichannel selling—including a mix of remote and in-person meetings, digital self-service and conversations across email and social apps—just as effective as traditional sales channels, if not more effective. The same McKinsey survey found that more than 90 percent of decision-makers predict the hybrid model will persist even after the pandemic subsides. And LinkedIn research points to the same trends with 55 percent of buyers indicating that working remotely has made the purchasing process easier. All signs point to hybrid ways of working being here to stay.  

With digital communication methods satisfying buyers’ needs, the bar for securing an in-person meeting is higher than ever before. If reps hope to secure face-to-face time with buyers, they will need to show they can deliver real value and be a partner in solving business challenges, not just pitch their product. 

 

Multithreading becomes a core skill

As I’ve written about before, the Great Reshuffle is significantly impacting the sales industry, with turnover among decision-makers and sales professionals increasing 31 percent and 39 percent from summer 2020 to summer 2021, respectively. This moment of unprecedented workforce movement is likely to extend into 2022 as people reflect on their priorities and search for greater flexibility, advancement opportunities or new career paths. 

In 2022, buying committees will continue to be in flux. As a result, reps will need to multithread—that is, build multiple contact points within an organization rather than relying on one or two champions. Sales leaders will start to expect this behavior from their teams and work with reps to develop the necessary skill set. If multithreading is new to your organization, the best first step is to ask for warm introductions to all of the key players on an account, either via an existing contact or other mutual connections. And once a connection is established, invest in building those relationships.

 

Compliance conversations will be at the forefront

Across the globe, regulatory bodies are doubling down on policies that protect consumer information. When these changes happen, they will not only be swift; they will also have far-reaching effects on GTM technologies. 

Sales leaders should take the time now to evaluate their technology stack through the lens of emerging regulations as well as existing standards like GDPR. While compliance has always been part of the discussion, decision-makers will be increasingly critical of whether companies they look to partner with are on the cutting edge of industry standards around privacy and consumer protection. 

 

Talent retention is a top priority for sales leaders

Just as important as relationships with buyers is relationships between sales leaders and their teams. High turnover poses significant risks beyond the disruption of finding new talent and onboarding new employees. Reps hold the keys to buyer relationships and institutional knowledge, both of which can be difficult to transition to another team member. 

Retaining talent must be a priority for all sales leaders, especially when considering job transitions are particularly high among new entrants to the workforce. There was a 133.8 percent increase in job transitions of Gen Z from September to November 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, according to LinkedIn data. 

While rewards and incentives can help reps feel valued and recognized, it’s also essential for leaders to invest in engaging their teams through training and coaching, and laying out paths for growth. The Great Reshuffle has made way for employees to be in the driver’s seat and employers must be intentional about seeking feedback and understanding what’s important to their employees right now, such as greater flexibility. If sales leaders do not take the time to strengthen their connections and move beyond transactional relationships with employees, they may find that 2022 could shape up to be the year of attrition.  

 

Top performers identify buyer intent signals

For years, top-performing sales organizations have used analytics to drive growth and maximize revenue. However, breaking through in a competitive, increasingly digital environment requires deeper understanding and insight into buyer intent

Buyers are even more discerning about the outreach they respond to and the new connections they establish, with response rates to sellers decreasing 30 percent compared to pre-pandemic benchmarks. Therefore, intent signals are becoming especially critical to sales success. Sellers should take a play from buyers’ selective approach playbook and leverage intent signals to identify which accounts to prioritize based on where a prospect is in their buying journey and whether it’s the right time to engage.

 

Agility is the name of the game

Change in B2B selling is inevitable—and today it’s coming from every direction. That said, periods of significant change also offer opportunities. To keep up with talent shifts, compliance demands and buyer preferences in 2022, leaders need to be proactive, stay attuned to evolving trends, and use new technologies and capabilities to advance and evolve.


Alyssa Merwin is Vice President of Global Sales Solutions at LinkedIn and is dedicated to helping sales professionals modernize their approach to sales.


  • Originally published January 12, 2022