In 2023, the shift towards existing clients (as opposed to prospecting new ones) is expected to continue, especially if the economic climate remains uncertain. Finally, Customer Success Management (CSM) is set to further establish itself as a key driver of customer retention. A report on a busy year ahead!
1. AI for Optimizing B2B Sales Reps’ Time
In the early stages of this year, ChatGPT is likely at the forefront of the most discussed topics among marketers. While AI has significantly impacted digital marketing, it has faced some challenges in sales, a function some consider more “conservative.” However, this perception might change in 2023.
According to McKinsey, 40% of tasks currently performed manually by sales reps could be automated, and 85% are expected to be automated in the near future. The stakes are significant:
- Forbes reports that 64.8% of sales reps’ time is consumed by activities that do not generate revenue. In a 40-hour workweek, this means sales reps spend, on average, 26 hours on tasks peripheral to actual sales;
- McKinsey estimates that sales reps spend, on average, half of their day on tasks other than actual selling.
- According to SalesFunnel, 65% of sales leaders believe their reps spend too much time on activities “unrelated to sales”.
- According to Seismic, only 39% of sales reps’ time is allocated to interactions with clients and prospects.
Because it allows for streamlined automation to minimize human intervention, AI likely holds the key to optimizing the time of sales reps.
AI is also expected to be deployed to refine the predictive analysis, particularly for leveraging the intent and behavioural data of potential buyers to facilitate a conversion. “75% of B2B buyers expect companies to predict their needs and make relevant suggestions before the initial contact,” explains McKinsey.
2. Customer Success Management (CSM): the Key to Customer Retention
Customer Success Management is a strategy aimed at ensuring that customers fully utilize the potential of the purchased product or service. The principle is simple: the success of the customers is also the success of the company.
In practice, the Customer Success Manager individually supports a small group of clients to ensure they make the most of their product or service. They should have an in-depth understanding of each client’s challenges, as well as the practical applications of their product in specific industry cases.
Among their responsibilities are developing and executing a personalized growth plan for each client, analyzing product usage data to anticipate issues (in the case of software), collaborating with other departments in the company to empower clients and promote their success, and implementing a regular training plan if the product undergoes constant updates.
Finally, the Customer Success Manager is often well-placed to identify opportunities to maximize revenue with existing clients, through methods such as:
- Cross Selling: encouraging the client to purchase a complementary product to what they already have
- Up Selling: encouraging the client to choose a higher-priced product than what they are considering (or have already purchased).
3. Up Selling and Cross Selling… the Fastest Path to Growth?
“Salespeople can no longer just sign a contract and pass 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 aligns with recent surveys demonstrating B2B leaders’ intention to refocus on their customer portfolio in an uncertain economic environment:
- According to the “State of Modern Customer Journey” conducted by Alloy, B2B tech companies now prioritize their existing customers over leads and prospects in the funnel. In fact, 73% of surveyed companies claim to have raised their revenue targets for existing customers in 2022 ;
- Alloy also notes that B2B tech companies have strengthened their upselling and cross-selling tactics to maximize Customer Lifetime Value.
- Finally, HubSpot explains that over 25% of sales professionals (across all sectors) prioritized existing customers over prospecting new ones in 2022… with evident success: 74% of sales leaders who focused on Up Selling and Cross Selling generated up to 30% of their revenue through these techniques
This dynamic calls for a new funnel model, shifting from a linear form to a cyclical one: every signed customer becomes a prospect again, whether to buy “more” or “better”.