The Top Sales Trends for 2023: Turning Tech Tools Into Teammates

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When it comes to new technologies, companies that position the latest applications as a teammate for sellers rather than just another tool or, even worse, a replacement will have better luck unlocking seller productivity and enabling high-quality deals, Gartner notes in a recent report.

“The tech revolution isn’t about giving sellers more technology; it’s about giving technology more responsibility. New technologies, such as generative AI and digital humans, have the potential to transform the role of the seller,” says Robert Blaisdell, senior director analyst in Gartner’s sales practice.

And such an approach also better meets the changing needs of today’s buyers, who have read much of the hype around some of these newest technologies and whose expectations often don’t meet the reality of what is available today, he adds.

“A new approach that marries technology advances with the distinctive abilities that human sellers bring to a deal is required to adapt to customers’ changing needs and drive real commercial outcomes,” Blaisdell says. “Sales leaders will need to rethink how to meet buyers’ inflated digital expectations. Those who don’t risk distancing themselves from buyers and leaving real money on the table.”

While human sales personnel have real value, there’s even greater value when their capabilities are combined with the right technologies.

Sales reps are often the most obvious option to help buyers through dysfunction to reach their goals, but they’re also the most expensive, according to Gartner. The tight labor market and the persistent skills gap renders this approach ineffective.

Organizations can finally move beyond simple automation and assisted selling to true augmented selling, where technology plays an active role in the design and execution of the sales process. As technology becomes fully embedded over time, sellers can lean on technology as their teammate to delegate tasks associated with lead generation or basic customer interactions.

“The technologies prioritize buyers’ value in real-time collaboration, provide them with the help required to influence consensus, and allow them to leverage digital tools for purchase guidance,” says Dan Gottlieb, a senior director analyst in Gartner’s sales practice. “While our research indicates buyers prefer a rep-free purchase experience, they also report that their interactions with sellers are the most valuable parts of the buying process. Their willingness to work with sellers via technology presents a compelling opportunity to experiment with new ways to engage digitally.”

At the same time, though, there is a huge administrative burden in overinvesting in the wrong technologies. Here are the technologies that experts see as the top sales priorities in 2023:


Though not a new technology, content management has evolved to include interactive demonstrations, which enable buyers to interact directly with synthetic data in digital products. Sales teams can customize a real-time walk-through experience for product tours for a personalized experience via their website or a digital sales room.

“By putting buyers in the driver’s seat for solution exploration, requirements building, and supplier selection, the likelihood of their engagement and, by extension, purchase power soars,” Gottlieb says.

“We’ve seen a lot of movement in the content management side, not just in how content is displayed and collected but in the different ways the technology is displayed to management teams,” adds Irinia Soriano, vice president of enablement at Seismic, a sales enablement platform provider. “There has been a lot of movement in how content is presented, absorbed, and shared with buyers and prospects throughout the customer life cycle.”

Soriano adds that sales teams are gaining more insight related to content, particularly on how different types of content influence customers as they move through the sales funnel.

Additionally, companies today are developing more interactive content than ever before, according to Soriano. While sellers in the past might have developed pitch decks using PowerPoint or similar tools that present information in linear fashion, those same sellers today often develop interactive content. During presentations, the seller or buyer can click on different parts of the content, pulling up different videos, for example, for a truly customized and personalized experience for different audiences.

“This way the seller is driving the story rather than just clicking through a deck,” Soriano says.

Developing such content requires involvement from the entire customer-facing team, according to Hendrik Isebaert, CEO of Showpad, another sales enablement platform provider. “As such, going beyond routine decks and demos to convince customers is critical, and by putting an emphasis on more engaging experiences supported by modern storytelling capabilities, teams can close more deals. The account team can co-create with the buyer to build immersive and delightful customer journeys—from first touch to order, and on into the full customer life cycle.”


As with just about every area of CRM technology, artificial intelligence is becoming more embedded in sales processes, with email being one of the most evident use cases. Generative AI can create the personalization that is so critical for sales today.

Gartner predicts that in the next two years, 30 percent of outbound messages from large organizations will be machine-generated. Within sales, generative AI will be increasingly used to create emails that leverage CRM data and prompts engineered by sellers to build highly tailored messages that align with individual buying priorities.

“Generative AI is on course to change the way sales organizations do business,” Gottlieb says. “AI will empower B2B sales teams to easily produce highly relevant content, creating better messaging to engage a higher number of buyers in a deal faster.”


DSRs offer a consolidated vendor microsite and project management hub for buying teams to reference vendor assets and information. DSRs streamline how small groups of targeted buyers interact with suppliers, turning into a collaborative platform where both can work together toward common goals.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80 percent of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels like these.


“Many sales organizations today see the need to consolidate around a full platform that pulls together all of their marketing, sales, and service information in one place,” says Zack Sprackett, chief product officer of SugarCRM, signaling a growing interest in customer data platforms. “Companies want to understand the ebb and flow of the business across different silos,” he observes.

The customer data platform is the underlying technology that pulls together all of this information, Sprackett explains. “This is the layer that exists beneath marketing, sales, and service and focuses on the data pipe to ensure that all of the information is flowing between different various systems at every step of the process.”

Without that integration, companies can’t understand the costs associated with different customer types, according to Sprackett. “You might be winning a ton of business in a particular vertical or in a particular industry but don’t realize that that type of customer has a high cost of support. Being able to pull this data together across the different silos allows you to have significantly greater insight into your business and into the behavior of your customers as well.”

The technology also captures time-based information, according to Sprackett. “This understanding of the wholesale changes that are happening in a business is really important.”


Digital engagement platforms, like customer data platforms, help pull together the patchwork of marketing and sales technologies with a customer-facing focus, including CRM, social media, deal rooms, e-commerce, and support ticketing systems, Sprackett says. “We’re seeing business starting to flip things around and look at them more holistically, from the point of view of the customers, and trying to build out a layer that supports them in their buying processes.”

Business customers conduct 70 percent of their research before ever contacting sales, according to Sprackett. Digital engagement platforms provide those customers with a way to conduct that research by “plugging in” to the organization.

The technology enables customers to make purchases, access and pay bills, and access support channels, Sprackett explains. “Think of it as a single digital pane of glass focusing on servicing all your customers’ needs.”


Visual collaboration tools provide a shared virtual canvas where sellers can tell stories, co-create, and annotate content with buyers. These tools help sellers explore complex solutions with their buyers, demonstrating client understanding through an interactive and visual real-time experience.

Gartner predicts that by next year, visual collaboration applications will make up 30 percent of all meeting experiences.


VR provides a computer-generated 3-D environment that surrounds a user and responds to an individual’s actions in a natural way, usually through immersive head-mounted displays. While considered a luxury in sales settings, VR can facilitate real-time 3-D virtual meeting experiences in the metaverse, offering a digital-first selling experience for buyers to learn about products and engage with peers.


Because sales teams can’t be consistently going to IT to bolster the sales enablement platform to meet their needs, they are turning to no-code options that allow them to add capabilities, customize applications, integrate systems, and update information on their own.

“No-code intelligence is immensely valuable to organizations as it puts customer-facing teams in the driver’s seat to build velocity and drive volume,” Isebaert explains. “Additionally, with an open and scalable sales ecosystem, customer-facing teams can more effectively team up with customers and their partners to build with ease on top of sales solutions, customizing it to meet their needs.”


Closely associated with the integration of sales, marketing, service, and commerce platforms is cross-functional collaboration. Workstream collaboration products, such as Microsoft Teams or Salesforce’s Slack, deliver a conversational workspace based on a persistent group chat. Sales leaders are using this technology to set up channels dedicated to the buying process, answer questions in real time, and facilitate dialogue with buyers.

Those collaboration technologies rely on AI to gather all of the required information and put it into a CRM or other system of record so that no human entry of the data is required, Sprackett says. “That ensures that the system of record has the latest and greatest information.”


Conversational intelligence analyzes interactions between buyers and sellers, using AI to deliver relevant insights, such as next-best-action recommendations. Gartner predicts that by 2025, three-quarters of all B2B sales organizations will augment traditional sales playbooks with AI-guided selling solutions.

“Active listening is one of the most fundamental skills in facilitating the buying process. Conversation intelligence helps sellers pick up on trends in buyer rhetoric, giving them additional guidance to use during real-time sales conversations,” Gottlieb says.


More than half of buyers say they use supplier-provided digital technologies during the buying process. Visual configuration enables buyers to interact with visual representations of the physical products they are looking to buy. Sellers can walk buying teams through customizations in real time, making this technology useful for solution exploration and requirement building.

Already table stakes in industries such as medical devices and specialty vehicles, organizations that are among the first to adopt it in their industry can gain substantial competitive advantage, Gartner says.


Narrative automation technologies use AI to conduct relevant research about companies and convert that research into value messaging. Sellers can distribute highly strategic narratives to more executive buyers, improving account coverage.


To increase the chance of closing the sale, it helps for sellers to know which prospects are in market and where they are in the buying process. Buyer intent data is key, says Henry Spitzer, chief revenue officer of Lusha, a sales intelligence solutions provider. “Intent data that is reliable, available in real time, and can be tailored to identify specific audiences is critical for sales representatives to establish their ideal customer profiles and determine their willingness to buy; that is, prospects that are actively in the market to make purchases. Furthermore, intent data can help close deals by allowing salespeople to identify the right person to reach out to at the right time.”


As AI has evolved, sales forecasting technology has improved tremendously this year, according to Sprackett. “Businesses have always had a hard time forecasting. A dirty little secret of the CRM industry is that a lot of the forecasting happens outside of the CRM tool itself.”

AI helps meld historical data, time-based information, different sources of revenue, and other data to improve sales forecasts.


ChatGPT is still very much in its infancy, and its promise for sales is still a future consideration. Still, experts have seen ChatGPT being deployed in sales to summarize and analyze sales conversations and recommend follow-up actions.

“It can also do research on a particular industry and find out the likely objections that someone in that particular industry would have to your product or service,” Sprackett says. A salesperson can use that information to have ready answers to counter objections.

But ChatGPT, like all the technologies mentioned, has limitations, Sprackett points out. “It can’t negotiate contracts. There’s still a lot of angst about how businesses can use this technology. What I would call challenging for businesses is the privacy side of things.” 

Phillip Britt is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area. He can be reached at spenterprises1@comcast.net.

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