2023 Sales Trends Overview & Predictions for 2024

2023 Sales Trends Overview & Predictions for 2024

With the new year right around the corner, now seems a good time to take a step back, put the past 12 months into perspective, and get ready for the new challenges that await us. 

Undoubtedly, 2023 proved to be a turbulent year for us sales folks with new trends and technologies that have reshaped the industry, and will continue to do so in the years to come. 

Having become somewhat of a tradition for us to make such overviews/predictions, I’m happy to say that we’ve been pretty successful in our previous ones, like the one from last year

So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the most prominent sales trends of the year, and then wrap up with some tarot-card predictions of what we can expect in the busy year ahead.

Top Sales Trends of 2023

AI becomes mainstream 

Kicking things off with the biggest 2023 trend of them all — AI, something I’m sure we’ve all come across in virtually every sales discussion, and rightfully so. If last year AI was just making waves in the B2B and sales industry, it has now become a permanent standard, not a differentiator. 

In other words, virtually every sales company now has AI technology. 

Besides providing the luxury of saving salespeople 2+ hours a day, AI now also has the power to assist sales teams in making data-driven decisions throughout the entire sales process, from prospecting to closing deals.

We’ve also made sure to keep up, which is why we have our very own AI Sales Assistant built into our product. It creates tailored outreach sequences, generates personalized emails, handles responses, and even books meetings on our clients’ behalf (and we’re just getting started). 

According to HubSpot, these are the top 3 use cases for AI among sales professionals:

Source

Some other noteworthy examples of AI in sales include: 

  • AI email assistants — help sales teams craft, automate, and scale effective email outreach. Moreover, they typically integrate with B2B databases and intent-based tools to help write highly personalized emails at scale, eliminating generic outreach. 
  • AI-powered call recording and note-taking — provide sales teams with real-time conversation intelligence to improve sales call and demo conversions. BTW, with the rise of generative AI, it’s relatively easy to build your own call-recording tool.
  • AI sales personalization — more on that right below. 

AI sales personalization 

While this is a subsection of our previous point, AI-powered personalization deserves a separate mention for the sheer value it has brought to all businesses worldwide. The old-school generic mass outreach simply does not work any longer, and while it can bring in some results with its sheer volume alone, modern customers expect to be treated as humans, not another name on the list. 

Personalization is the clear answer, and AI is the only way to make it happen without spending hours on each prospect. AI has the power to analyze customer data and create the most relevant and personalized offerings, tailored for each unique prospect. 

AI personalization is built on concrete data, which gives sales teams an objective bird’s-eye view of customers’ behavior, preferences, and needs, all crucial factors in driving a successful sales (and marketing) campaign. These efforts won’t go unnoticed, considering that over 60% of consumers believe they will make a repeat purchase after a personalized buyer experience. 

What’s more, AI personalization is deeply correlated with the steep growth of account-based selling, where B2B companies target high-value accounts with tailored campaigns that enables them to build connections with key decision-makers. Both trends have proven to boost engagement and conversion rates over the past year.

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Sales intelligence 

Even though it’s a relatively mature category, sales intelligence is still something of a niche sales process, mostly because it’s not easy to incorporate it into an existing sales workflow. The biggest trend we’ve witnessed here is the rise of intent-based outreach, aka signal- and trigger-based outreach. In simple terms, it’s a specific event indicating that a company is ready to purchase some software, product, or service.

There are already a few set-in-stone categories and tools that continue to grow in popularity:

  • Technographics — reach out to companies that use a specific technology that cofunctions and integrates well with your product.
  • Job changes — reach out to customers who recently changed their company where they used your product, potentially considering bringing it over to their new place of business.

  • Hiring signal —  reach out to companies that are actively hiring right now. In our case, these would be companies growing their sales teams, hence potentially needing a more powerful sales platform.

  • LinkedIn post likers — reach out to leads that are actively interacting with your industry- and product-related content on LinkedIn, which is the golden hub of B2B leads.

  • Social listening — reach out to leads that mention specific keywords on the internet, such as your company name, industry buzzwords, competitors, etc.

  • Dark funnel/website tracking — reach out to companies that visit your website, be it to read your content, check out the pricing plans, watch your interactive demo, etc. 

These intent signals are a fantastic way to ensure you’re reaching out to interested customers with the most relevant message at the right time, further driving your personalization efforts. 

Sales tools overview 

When discussing the sales trends of the year, I believe it’s appropriate to mention the shifting trends in the products and technologies used by B2B sales teams, a topic I am very keen on myself. 

By and large, all major categories have maintained the status quo — the same companies, the same leaders, no game-changing new players.

The most important categories for salespeople have remained the same:

  • B2B database > ZoomInfo, Clearbit, Lusha, Cognism, ContactOut.
  • Email finder > Hunter, Snov, LeadIQ, Lusha.
  • Sales engagement > Reply, Outreach, Salesloft, Apollo, lemlist.
  • Cold calling & LinkedIn automation > RingCentral, Aircall.
  • Proposals & documents > PandaDoc, DocuSign.
  • Meeting scheduling > Calendly, Chili Piper.
  • Conferencing > Zoom.
  • Conversation intelligence > Gong.

Everything else is kind of optional and really depends on a sales teams’ needs (e.g., LinkedIn automations, parallel dialers, sales forecasting, sales training, sales presentations, mutual action plans, sales enablement, sales commission, sales motivation, and sales productivity tools).

The changes that I did notice, however, are the following: 

  • Conversation intelligence has been the most impactful growing category since 2017, and this year it has really skyrocketed. So when I think, What’s gonna be the next impactful change in B2B sales?, it seems like AI, relevant buying signals, and automations will keep helping sales teams increase productivity in the years to come.
  • No-Code. No-code tools for sales teams keep improving, and now sales, marketing, and customer-facing teams can build powerful, task-specific AI tools on their own (no need to wait for devs who are always busy with product development). For sales teams specifically, it’s clear that there’s an entirely new category on the rise – no-code prospecting tools. Here are my top picks:

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  • Waterfall email finders — These tools allow connecting numerous B2B data providers and email finders in 1 application, and as a result, they help generate more verified emails from the same list (typically, 30-50% more emails in comparison to just 1 tool).

Value-based selling 

B2B sales don’t change on their own, but often adapt according to the other changes in the world. This has caused a drastic shift in the “traditional” role of a sales representative. Buyers are more informed than ever — they research products and features, and then compare them on their own, often before getting in touch with a salesperson. The result? SDRs have slowly transitioned from continuously selling their products to consulting and building relationships. 

In simple terms, sales reps are now focused on building rapport with prospects based on their unique problems and needs, communicating the value their product brings, patiently guiding prospects through their buyer journey, and only then, if there’s compatibility, do they make any sort of offering. 

According to recent research, over 80% of B2B companies have adopted value-based selling, and 2023 only solidified this growing trend. 

This customer-centric selling approach puts the customers exactly where they belong — at the very center of the entire sales process, increasing customer satisfaction and helping build long-term relationships, which is the greatest thing a business could hope for these days. 

Multichannel Outreach 

We have been pioneering multichannel outreach for quite some time, and 2023 was a year that pushed more companies to adopt this approach in their sales efforts. Cold calls and emails are still highly effective, but supplementing them with other channels and touchpoints has undeniably become an even more effective way of connecting with customers. 

Modern buyers are no longer tied to one single channel, and, as mentioned previously, their buyer journeys have become very unpredictable. Some may prefer good old emails for business communication, others may choose LinkedIn as their channel of choice, but in both cases — companies have to provide that option to them with multichannel touches. 

Multichannel outreach sequences have become the gold standard for sales engagement, which only makes sense given that they perfectly embed various intent triggers and emphasize today’s customer-centric business model.

New pricing realities 

Within the past 18 months, we’ve seen dozens of new sales engagement tools and cold outreach automation tools that changed our market. Tools like Instantly, Smartlead, Saleshandy, and Mailstand entered the market with a completely new pricing strategy — volume-based vs seat-based, and quickly appeared among market leaders in terms of revenue. 

This shift makes sense when considering that most operational budgets have gotten tighter, forcing other cold outreach providers to adjust their pricing models to stay competitive. 

At the same time, freemium pricing plans have also gained traction in 2023, with more and more B2B companies adopting them to keep up with the crowd, including us. As of today, almost 50% of sales teams offer freemium pricing options to their prospects, and virtually all of them agree that it’s a true game-changer in gaining more paid customers in the long run. 

Predictions for 2024

So what changes in sales can we expect in the busy year ahead? 

To best answer this question, we turned to our special tarot cards for some magical insights into the near future of B2B sales. 🔮

And while we’re not expecting anything crazy like AI replacing entire sales teams or some new game-changing technology that will revolutionize the entire sales industry, some of these predictions may be worth your attention. 

Drum roll, please, here they are:   

🎴 AI Sales Copilots

 

As AI is mastering the typical SDR tasks — finding prospects, verifying emails, creating sequences, generating cold emails, handling responses and objections, and even booking meetings — it will copilot SDRs in 2024 throughout the entire workflow. Cheap B2B data mixed with powerful AI features will provide each sales team with an extra SDR (or two) that is data-driven and needs no rest.

 

 

🎴Rise of RevOps

 

2024 will be a pivotal year in revenue operations — strategically aligning sales, marketing, and customer service departments to unlock new growth possibilities and drive revenue by lowering the CAC (customer acquisition cost) and increasing LTV (lifetime value). We will witness a new software category in 2024 — revenue acceleration, while Gartner predicts that 75% of the most rapidly growing companies will adopt the RevOps model by 2025.

 

 

🎴 Sales Engagement Shifting Gears  

 

Growing economic uncertainty and shrinking purchasing power are applying pressure on sales teams to work with more aggressive quotas. The most prominent solution is obvious —  increase meaningful customer engagement [personalized, automated, omnichannel]. Hence the expected increased demand for AI-powered sales engagement platforms. 

 

 

🎴 Outbound as a Growth Function

 

Following the rise of no-code tech in 2023, rather than relying on SDRs and traditional tech stacks, companies will now hire outbound ops who rely on these no-code prospecting tools and can build a dedicated intent-based outbound growth engine. As a result, we will see agile, tech-savvy outbound growth teams that will closely work with sales and marketing teams to transform cold outreach into a new reality. 

 

 

🎴 Sales Software Consolidation 

 

The B2B sales software market is so competitive and interconnected that literally everyone will be competing with each other. B2B data providers and CRMs are adding sequences, while sales engagement platforms are adding B2B databases and LinkedIn automations (guilty!). Thus, lots of products will eventually collapse into a new meta-category called something like “B2B Sales Execution Platforms.”

 

 

🎴 Sales Software Democratization

 

Certain sales tools that were once a luxury available exclusively to the big players are now becoming increasingly affordable and democratized, and 2024 will only solidify this trend as other companies will have to adapt. From B2B data to AI technology, all sales teams will have the opportunity to build a powerful stack without breaking the bank (under $100 per sales rep). 

 

 

🎴 The Rise of Inbound

 

It’s no secret that a growing number of customers are going through their buyer journeys on their own, without the help of sales reps. For this reason, 2024 will be a year of growing inbound sales — optimizing lead generation strategies, prioritizing inbound leads, and growing brand awareness with social selling. Inbound sales also fall perfectly in line with the rising practice of sales assistance rather than aggressive selling. 

 

 

🎴 Referral Sales and Nearbound

 

Many customers make their purchasing decisions based on trust, which is why more sales teams will turn to nearbound strategies in 2024 — a hybrid of inbound and outbound. Warm introductions through referrals and common networks will take targeted prospecting to a whole new level, all while driving customer loyalty and strengthening partnerships. This meta-trend will affect enterprise and mid-market sales teams but probably not SMBs.

 

Turning the calendar 

Thanks for taking this journey with me. I truly hope you gained some insight and/or inspiration as you walk into the year ahead. 

Now it’s time to reflect, recharge, and enjoy the holiday season🎄

On that note, if you’re looking to gear up for 2024 with some of that AI-powered sales juice we’ve been talking about, check out Reply’s Holiday Offer — 50% off all annual plans. From finding targeted prospects and engaging them with multichannel sequences to booking calls right from the platform — we’ve got you covered. 

Once again, Happy Holidays from the whole Reply Team 💙, and we will see you next year 😉

 

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