As I gaze into my sales crystal ball… what do I see for Sales Leaders in 2023?

1. Opportunity: There are the select few Sales Leaders that actually see an opportunity in the chaos and economic downturn that we’re experiencing in SaaS Tech Sales. They see the opportunity to upgrade their sales talent. They see the opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competitors by investing in their sales team to optimize their sales performance via technology (AI) and through a vastly improved qualification process (e.g., NOT BANT!). The great value investor Warren Buffett always buys when everyone else is selling and panicking. There are always great value stocks and sales people that become available during a Bear market.

2. Building Deeper Customer Relationships: Enterprise customers are always striving to cut the number of high tech vendors they work with… not expand them. Particularly in an economic downturn where SaaS renewals and churn will likely increase precipitously. Building more meaningful customer relationships will be paramount to all SaaS companies over the next 18-24 months. Do you really know your customers? Or are they just an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) that you sell to? What do your customers really think of you as a business partner? It’s time to ask yourselves as Sales Leaders the hard questions that the inferior Sales Leaders are afraid to ask themselves.

3. Business Outcomes: Stop selling features and capabilities. The customer could care less about your cool, whiz bang features (real world customer quote from one of my Exec Buyer customer interviews). They only care about the business outcomes that your solution drives and enables that are important to their business. For example, I recently heard the CISO from Levi Strauss say on a Webcast… “tell me how you’re going to help me sell more jeans. Not how your Cyber Security technology is going to prevent from being breached.”

4. Build a Winning Sales Coaching Program: Think like a highly successful Football Coach like Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) or Nick Saban (University of Alabama). They have built a coaching system and framework for consistent success… year after year. They are incredibly adept at recruiting people that fit their system and will be successful. They adapt “in game” (e.g., analogous to “in a sales process”) better than their competitors and as such, are able to overcome early point deficits and win the game at the end. They out prepare, out practice and out scout their competition. Open Disclaimer: I am a die hard New England Patriots fan having grown up in Massachusetts and living in Boston for 12 years between College and early business career.

My son played football growing up in the East Bay of San Francisco from 4th grade through High School. I was a coach or assistant coach for many of his football teams over the years. Rob Ryan had just been hired to be the Defensive Coordinator for the Oakland Raiders. He had just spent four (4) years as the Linebackers Coach for the NE Patriots. During his tenure, they had won two (2) Super Bowls and ranked 1st in NFL scoring defense (both points allowed and points scored by a Defense). He gave the football season kick off speech when my son was in in middle school. I stalked him at the hot dog shack and ended up chatting with him for 15-20 minutes about what makes the NE Patriots so consistently great. He laughed and said it’s all Belichick. He shared with me that the level and depth of preparation before a game was nothing like he’s ever seen in his football career. He told me that the Patriots do things in building their football team that no other football team is doing in the NFL.

5. Build out a world class Discovery Framework: I’ve always submitted that the top performing sales teams that I’ve had the pleasure to work with fundamentally out discover and out discern their peers and competitors. As a result of their deep dive discovery and discernment process, they simply have a much richer pool of information to formulate a winning sales strategy from. And oh by the way, sometimes the best sales strategy is to qualify out because the deal is not realistically winnable if you’re being sober and honest with yourself as a sales team. I call this “ruthless qualification”… not BANT (see above). Again, great sales teams are not afraid of asking the hard questions of the customer. Rather, they embrace asking the hard questions early and often in their sales pursuits so they don’t waste their time. That’s why far less of their deals end up in the dreaded “No Decision” state. That’s why they have a much higher winning conversion rates on their deals versus their peers and competitors.

Good Selling in 2023 to All!