The sales climate in 2023 is off to a drastically different start than in previous years. It’s as if the world of sales suddenly entered The Twilight Zone. Sales professionals must understand that selling in this marketplace is completely different than it’s been in the recent past, and if they want to keep up with their competition, they’d better double down on their skill-building activities.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing six critical selling skills for 2023 that will enable sales professionals to position themselves for better success. These skills range from executing C-suite/executive conversations and conducting deeper discovery to building CFO-ready business cases to mastering the art of copywriting. Here are six critical selling skills the most successful salespeople are implementing in today’s ever-changing business landscape.
Conduct More Effective Executive Conversations:
Sales professionals must master the art of executing executive conversations to be successful in 2023. The ability to communicate effectively with executives in the C-suite is a crucial skill that can help sales professionals build stronger relationships and close more deals.
To deliver more effective executive conversations, sales professionals must understand the executives’ priorities and the challenges they face in their business. They must be able to ask relevant questions and provide solutions that align with the executives’ goals. “Selling to VITO” is a great book that speaks to the importance of this aspect of professional selling. The key to executing successful executive conversations is connecting the dots to external factors impacting their business, delivering valuable insights based on deep conversations with their team, and sharing how your solution will align with their key priorities.
When you’re selling to executives in the C-suite, you must come from the place of an analyst or a consultant. If you demonstrate a deep, matrixed insight, they’ll pay closer attention. This is the style of communication they prefer, so before you present to them, you must spend the appropriate amount of time crafting the specific narrative you’re going to deliver.
Build Business Cases That Are CFO Ready:
As companies continue to focus on the bottom line, sales professionals must be able to build business cases that are CFO-ready. CFOs in today’s buying environment are more involved in decisions than they have ever been before. CFOs are looking for solutions that can provide a measurable return on investment (ROI) and help the company achieve its financial goals.
To build business cases that are CFO-ready, sales professionals must have a deep understanding of the company’s financial metrics to be able to articulate the ROI tied to their solution. They must be able to provide financial justifications and demonstrate the value of their solution in terms of cost savings, revenue growth, and other financial metrics. They’ll need to be looking at both hard dollar OpEx takeouts and soft dollar factors like time savings that can equate to exactly what people will do with that time.
Salespeople must understand that many a time, your solution is looked upon as an unbudgeted expense. If that’s the case, you’ll need to clearly show the need to add budget for your solution and the CFO will likely need to give his/her approval. This is one of the major changes to the selling world in 2023, so you’ll need to adjust your approach accordingly.
Reach More Relevant Stakeholders:
In today’s complex selling environment, it’s essential for salespeople to reach more relevant stakeholders if they want to close more deals. According to a recent Gartner study, consensus selling involves engaging with an average of 6.8 stakeholders before a deal can be closed.
Sales professionals must have the skills to identify and engage with all the relevant stakeholders involved in the decision-making process. They must be able to understand the stakeholders’ interests and concerns, and tailor their communication and cadences accordingly.
As mentioned, today’s sellers need to involve more stakeholders than ever before. Most importantly, salespeople must target specific end users, some of which they’ve never had to sell to in the past. If you can engage that specific audience and focus on building relationships with those end users, it’s much easier to get the attention and buy in from the executive team. Most of these people may not know a solution exists for their problems, and therefore, wouldn’t know where to turn to fix them. Following this process will help you create momentum further downstream and will help you close more deals in the long run.
Conduct Deeper Discovery on Problems Connected to Executing Executive Priorities:
To be successful in sales in 2023, sales professionals must go beyond having surface-level conversations and dive much deeper into the problems connected to executing a companies’ executive priorities. They must be able to understand the root cause of the problem and provide solutions that address their underlying issues.
Sales professionals must be able to ask insightful questions and actively listen to their prospects to understand their pain points. They must be able to provide relevant solutions that align with their prospects’ goals and help them achieve their desired outcomes.
I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but it’s a step we see getting skipped regularly. It isn’t enough that a buying team has a problem or that people find your solution interesting. If you can’t connect your solution to an established priority, it will be much harder for your prospects to see a reason they should change.
Master the Art of Copywriting
Copywriting is another essential skill that every sales professional should master. This is a skill that’s hardly ever taught to salespeople. Effective copywriting can often make the difference between booking a meeting or not, getting a shot at an RFP, or having a deal die on the vine. It’s critical for salespeople to understand their target audience, create a compelling message that drives change, and communicates the value of their product or service.
The foundation of modern selling is based on cutting through the noise and conveying your message properly. If you master the art of copywriting, your emails, presentations, and social media impact will improve dramatically. You’ll also be more effective when delivering proper narratives for building value and demonstrating why a business should invest in your solution to drive change. Writing better copy will also help you build a better brand on LinkedIn to position yourself as a thought leader and a trusted advisor. This improved skill set will help you to stand out from other sellers and will attract more clients reaching out to you vs. you always having to reach out to them.
Patience vs. Pressure:
Patience in today’s selling environment will actually help you move deals along faster. Wait, what? Think about this in terms of golf. If you swing the club as hard and fast as you can, the ball doesn’t go further! If you swing slower and more controlled, the ball goes far. It’s the same in sales. Being a patient seller requires a strategic approach that emphasizes taking time to build relationships, better understand your customer needs, and providing more value to your prospects. By moving slowly, sales professionals can establish more trust and credibility early on in the process. It will also help them build deeper rapport with prospects, help them ask more relevant questions, and gain a deeper understanding of their prospects’ needs. The patient approach will lead to more closed deals, increased customer loyalty, and long-term business growth.
Moving slowly will also help sales professionals avoid common mistakes like sending proposals too early in the process, asking for the close too soon, making unrealistic assumptions, and not fully understanding their prospect’s needs. Do not fall into the trap of believing the old-school, manipulative, fast-talking sales tactics will work in 2023. The selling environment has changed dramatically, and if you don’t adjust accordingly, you’ll be left in the dust by your competitors. Now more than ever, if you continue to push your prospects into making a decision they’re not ready to make, you’ll lose more deals than you think.
In conclusion, sales professionals must have a range of skills to be successful in today’s business climate. By mastering the six critical selling skills we covered in today’s blog, sales professionals will build stronger relationships with prospects, close more deals, and drive business growth. Finally, if organizations want to drive more revenue in 2023, they must provide their sales teams with the necessary resources and training to develop these critical selling skills. Investing in coaching, mentorship, and ongoing training isn’t optional, it’s required, if they want their sales teams to become high-performing selling machines.
At The Sales Collective, our team of experts has a wealth of knowledge and decades of experience helping companies of all types and sizes become more effective. Many of our clients have seen dramatic increases in revenue, win rates, and profitability, and we’d be happy to share more if and when the time is right. If you’d like more information, please visit us at: TheSalesCollective.com.