In 2022, everything was the same but completely different. The roller coaster ride from 2021 continued into 2022, with new and unexpected twists and turns. Inflation cut off the flow of cash into sales technology companies, driving focus back to the fundamentals that established businesses rely on. After working with these companies for the last year, three things stood out from watching them navigate their way through 2022.
- Funding drives innovation but disconnects product adoption. When money is flowing, it’s easy to get caught up in the race for the next cool feature. As an analyst making the shift to evaluative research, I came to expect continuous innovation. What I didn’t realize was how disconnected these innovations were from what customers valued and used. As technologies merged and customers realized that they had multiple solutions doing the same thing, adoption became the most important criteria for renewal. 2022 was a value reality check for sales technology companies, where winning required adoption more than innovation.
- What’s old is new again. We often believe that technology vendors lead the way in innovation. While this may be true for products, it is far from true for business execution. Usage-based sales (pay as you go) is emerging as a new trend in technology. This has been standard in many industries for years as competition pushed established products to customer-centric pricing models. Also, profitability is now top of mind again as companies have less access to funding. These two areas emerged with sales technology companies in 2022, because when times get tough, fundamentals matter. Customers with options will only pay for what they use, and only profitable companies survive in the long run.
- Revenue technology is a work in progress. Despite a significant increase in messaging on revenue teams, sales and marketing technologies are as divided as ever. The only thing that has changed is the advertising around alignment. When these technology companies talk about alignment, it is mostly about alignment from their individual product value propositions. Sales tech wants to import all digital interactions, and martech wants to consume all seller touchpoints. Neither are aligning around the buying group and won’t be able to support revenue use cases until this happens.
As we go into 2023, I look forward to seeing how the changes from 2022 shape the outcomes of next year. A recession is looming that will make valuable technology more important than ever. The best sales technology organizations have used 2022 to improve the value of their platforms, empowering them to help their customers succeed in the future. Forrester’s Planning Guide 2023: Sales Operations provides further insight into how sales operations leaders should prepare for the macroeconomic headwinds of 2023.