B2B sales: 3 trends that will change the rules of the game in 2023
The new year promises to be a particularly exciting one for the B2B sales function! After long neglecting sales to pamper marketing, technology finally seems to be providing actionable solutions for salespeople, with AI making a noticeable foray into their daily lives.
In 2023, the refocusing on existing customers (as opposed to prospecting for new ones) should continue, especially if the economic climate remains uncertain. Finally, Customer Success Management (CSM) should consolidate its position as a catalyst for customer loyalty. Chronicle of a busy year!
1- Using AI to optimise B2B salespeople’s time
At the start of this year, ChatGPT is undoubtedly at the top of the list of topics most discussed by marketers. While AI has made a significant start in transforming digital marketing, it is finding it difficult to establish itself in sales, a function that some consider to be more “conservative”. This could well change in 2023.
According to McKinsey, 40% of the tasks carried out manually by sales staff could be automated, and 85% will be in the short term. It has to be said that the stakes are enormous:
- According to Forbes, 64.8% of salespeople’s time is occupied by activities that do not generate income. In a 40-hour week, salespeople spend an average of 26 hours on non-sales tasks;
- McKinsey estimates that, on average, salespeople spend half their day on tasks other than actual selling;
- According to SalesFunnel, 65% of sales managers believe that their sales staff spend too much time on ‘non-sales related’ activities;
- According to Seismic, only 39% of salespeople’s time is allocated to interactions with customers and prospects.
By streamlining automation to limit human intervention as much as possible, AI undoubtedly holds the key to optimising salespeople’s time.
AI should also be mobilised to refine predictive analysis, in particular to exploit data on the intention and behaviour of potential buyers to promote conversion. “75% of B2B buyers expect companies to predict their needs and make relevant suggestions before the first contact,” explains McKinsey.
2- Customer Success Management (CSM): the key to building loyalty
Customer Success Management is a strategy designed to ensure that customers use the full potential of the product or service they have purchased. The principle is simple: the success of the customer is also the success of the company.
In practice, the Customer Success Manager supports a small group of customers on a one-to-one basis to ensure that they use their product or service to its full potential. They have in-depth knowledge of the challenges facing each customer, and above all of the applications of their product in practical cases specific to each account’s sector of activity.
In particular, they will be responsible for developing and implementing a personalised growth plan for each customer, analysing product usage data to anticipate problems (in the case of software), working in synergy with other company departments to equip customers and promote their success, implementing a regular training plan if their product is constantly evolving, etc.
Finally, the Customer Success Manager is often well placed to identify opportunities to maximise the revenue generated with existing customers, in particular through :
- Cross Selling: encouraging customers to buy a product that complements the one they have already purchased;
- Up Selling: encouraging customers to choose a more expensive product than the one they are considering (or have already bought).
3- Up Selling and Cross Selling… the shortest route to growth?
“Salespeople can no longer simply sign a contract and pass on an account to their colleagues: they are expected to play an active role in managing customer relationships,” reads a recent study by LinkedIn Learning.
This conclusion is in line with recent surveys which demonstrate the desire of B2B managers to refocus on their customer portfolio in an uncertain economic climate:
- According to “Alloy’s State of Modern Customer Journey“B2B tech companies are now prioritising existing customers over leads and prospects in the funnel. In fact, 73% of the companies surveyed claim to have raised their revenue targets for existing customers by 2022;
- According to Alloy, B2B tech companies have “beefed up” their up-selling and cross-selling tactics to maximise Customer Lifetime Value;
- Finally, HubSpot explains that more than 25% of sales professionals (across all sectors) will have given priority to existing customers over prospecting for new ones by 2022… with obvious success: 74% of sales managers who have relied on Up Selling and Cross Selling have generated up to 30% of their revenues thanks to these techniques.
This dynamic argues in favour of a new model of the funnel, which moves from a linear form to a cyclical model: each customer signed becomes a new prospect to be converted, whether to buy “more” or “better”.