The B2B sales profession is at an inflection point. Sales leaders have the opportunity — really, the obligation — to transform their organizations or risk being at a competitive disadvantage.

This isn’t just hyperbole. The shift has long been underway, driven by increasingly digital-first buyer preferences and expectations for a purchasing process that more closely mirrors consumers’ experiences. In the wake of the pandemic — as many knowledge workers continue working remotely and rely even more heavily on digital means of transacting — the urgency has only grown.

Our planning assumptions 2022 report outlines three truths that will shape B2B sales executives’ priorities in the coming year. Among them:

You Need To Be Insights-Driven 

The use of data and insights is critical to success in the future of sales, and it’s the thread running through our 2022 planning assumptions. The profusion of data available from digital interactions allows AI applications to identify and predict which companies, opportunities, and actions are most likely to yield the best outcomes. AI-driven insights enable sellers to personalize their interactions with buyers and provide them with the right information at the right time. Adopting an insights-driven sales system empowers more reps to succeed, helping teams consistently achieve quota and organizations achieve their overall revenue and growth objectives.

Insights are proving valuable for other purposes, too. Sales leaders can improve their teams’ diversity, for instance, by using insights to recruit and select the best candidate and overcome their dependence on referrals to fill roles. Organizational diversity has grown in importance to B2B buyers as they seek out companies that demonstrate purpose beyond profit.

E-Commerce Is Essential

Many sales leaders still view e-commerce as a marketing-only initiative and keep gravitating toward old-school, offline selling motions. Buyer needs, meanwhile, continue to evolve away from these models. Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Study showed that buyers already make around one-third of their B2B purchases through an e-commerce site or marketplace.

Along with offering buyers convenience, embracing e-commerce can help improve profitability. Sales organizations that sell to small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), for instance, can lower costs by enabling online ordering, rather than having reps field these orders. The same applies to sales of consumables or items that need frequent replacement.

Your Routes To Market May Need Rethinking

Along with accommodating digital sales channels, sales leaders should reevaluate their overall strategy for reaching, selling to, and supporting customers. Too often, routes to market (RTM) are ad hoc, rather than strategically driven. When companies grow through acquisitions, for example, they often incorporate, but not fully integrate, the newly acquired organization’s route-to-market model, which, over time, leads to a fragmented RTM strategy. However they come about, RTMs often outlive their real usefulness.

It’s time for sales leaders to step back. Conducting a routes-to-market needs analysis of target customers is a good way to better understand what’s required to meet these buyers’ expectations and meet company goals. Rethinking your RTM approach can help you capture more sales opportunities and avoid inefficiencies in resource deployment.

For a deeper dive into what will shape B2B sales executives’ priorities in the coming year, see our Planning Assumptions report (client access only). And learn how sales executives and sales operations leaders can work most effectively toward goals in our Planning Assumptions webinar on October 28.