In 2017, customer experience (CX) and machine learning will work together to be the defining element in B2B marketing and sales strategy. This increased importance in creating seamless CX, driven by the underlying need to more effectively link customer data with business data, will push companies to align not just marketing and sales, but all revenue-generating and customer-facing departments—including customer success and product development.
This post is a simple walkthrough of the ‘why’ and ‘how behind predictive sales and marketing strategies – founded in your own customer data.
How Customer Success Drives Predictive Sales and Marketing
The terms “Predictive,” “Machine Learning” and “A.I.” sound expensive, hype-driven, and essentially meaningless to the modern B2B sales and marketing leader. But look out, because the premise behind predictive is grounded in practicality and we’re reaching a tipping point in the capabilities and availability of predictive technology in B2B sales and marketing.
The premise: History repeats itself. It’s the greatest predictor of future events, whether we’re talking international politics or the success rates for various B2B sales and marketing efforts.
The tipping point: The sophistication and mass availability of data intelligence software. In B2B, you used to need a massive budget or a committed business intelligence team to get great predictive insights for sales and marketing. That period has come to end. These are the top 3 reasons every B2B company should make customer metrics the core of their 2017 sales and marketing strategy, with predictive analytics serving as the connector behind past and future success.
1. Creates the path of least resistance towards future revenue.
Powerfully positive customer experience is the basis behind the wish list for every B2B sales organization: more customers, higher average contract values, negative churn, high renewal rates, increased referrals, shorter sales cycles, stronger inbound lead generation. In other words, everything that makes life easier for the entirety of your front office.
All those things on the wish list? They’re organic revenue drivers. The true north for sales and marketing, in a time where 5.4 people, on average, must formally sign off on purchase decisions for complex enterprise sales. The data behind client success is incredibly powerful. Key data signals can point your organization towards ad geo-targeting for marketing, industry verticals for sales, and product roadmapping for developers, to cite just a few examples.
2. Aligns your entire front office.
It’s the one true nexus for your entire company. 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral. The more you focus effort and attention on customer experience, the better your targeting, your messaging, your marketing collateral – everything. Which is why sales enablement initiatives containing a formal process for cross-functional collaboration were most likely to hit expectations. (CSO Insights).
Database enrichment, predictive analytics and client communications technology have decimated the silos around CX in many B2B sales organizations. Affordable and integration-ready, these tools are equipping SMB and mid-market B2B companies with insane insights across all functions. Fully enriched client database? Searchable support channel? Client satisfaction and engagement scores? All are readily accessible to your entire organization.
3. Separates the wheat from the chaff.
Wait – you’re not here to create a positive experience for your customers? Good luck achieving long-term growth and prosperity.
The companies that deploy successful B2B sales and marketing initiatives in 2017 will look first to their existing customer data. And beyond that, they will work aggressively to establish a customer success-based foundation for future revenue growth.
It’s the Digital Age. The information gap between businesses and consumers has all but evaporated. For the first time in the history of commerce, as Brian Halligan and Daniel Pink noted in Hubspot’s initial How to Sell Like a Human interview, B2B companies no longer have total control over product messaging. Their clientele does – on review sites, message boards, and social media.
In 2017, the buyer’s journey can begin without any meaningful interaction with your polished marketing campaigns and silver-tongued sales talent. Your clients define your brand, your value, and ultimately, the potential of your business. In that respect, every organization must make a choice when it comes to customer success.
Using predictive analytics and real-time customer data, B2B sales organizations can become smarter about guiding what their customers say about them. If you’re a SaaS company, track relevant metrics that indicate customer satisfaction. Then use the insights to hand your happiest clients a megaphone to sing your praises – instead of requesting reviews and referrals from clients looking to take a sickle to your business’s online.
Beyond the Hype: Bringing Predictive to B2B Sales and Marketing
We have reached a tipping point in the B2B sales profession – where customer data enrichment, analytics, and predictive forecasting for sales and marketing is more powerful, cost-effective, and readily available than ever before. Companies with reliable, high quality customer data and a client-centric focus will be best-suited to activate predictive analytics, machine-learning, and AI to accelerate revenue growth dramatically in 2017.
Also published on Medium.