B2B revenue teams have experienced massive change, challenge, and growth in the past couple of years – and I predict the coming months and years will keep us on our toes as well. So it’s important to be ready to adjust how we’re doing things in order to stay ahead of emerging trends and changes.
After digging into the data, here are the five trends I believe revenue teams should prepare for in the near future.
Inflation might be finally cooling, but revenue teams continue to experience “B2B inflation.” This is the phenomenon where we have to do so much more to achieve the same results.
At my company, it now takes 32 touches to qualify an account (twice what it took a few years ago). Plus, McKinsey reports that B2B buyers are using more channels than ever when researching potential vendors, meaning we need to be in more places at once. Meanwhile, buying groups have ballooned to include between 14 and 23 people, according to Gartner.
To meet these increasing demands, revenue teams will have to work a lot smarter. We’re already working as hard as we can, and another late night or weekend isn’t going to cut it. It’ll require all the tools at our disposal, and especially AI, to get the job done.
Given what we’re seeing with B2B inflation, it’s not too surprising that 75% of CMOs reported “doing more with less in 2023,” and 71% said their budgets weren’t big enough to fully execute their plans.
Budgets will continue to be tight, but they’ll also shift in favor of investing in AI over headcount.
Last year, many companies went through layoffs due to over-hiring in a hot economy. It’s emotionally grueling for everyone involved. From a practical perspective, striking the right balance between technology and headcount is key to company performance as well. A leading private equity firm found that high-performing companies spend more on technology and less on people compared to their average-performing counterparts. The same firm predicts that increased tech spend will, over time, lead to increased marketing budgets as efficiency, ROI, and growth improve.
It may be counterintuitive, but shifting budget toward AI has a net benefit for employees because it allows them to meet the demands of B2B inflation without being overwhelmed. In light of the next trend, that’s more important now than ever before.
Four in 10 U.S. employees blame their jobs for negatively impacting their mental health, and, honestly, I’m not surprised. In addition to the “more with less” crisis, we’re also living in a very stressful time…post-pandemic, a topsy-turvy economy, and countless global crises are taking a toll. In a survey of global senior risk professionals, 80% expect burnout will have a significant impact on businesses in the next year, and only 41% believe their organizations are ready to deal with it.
The companies that excel in this environment will be those that understand they need to speak to their employees’ hearts and minds – and meet their needs both at work and beyond. As growth expert and author Tiffani Bova says, “The fastest way to get your customers to love your brand is by ensuring your employees love their jobs.”
Culture is a huge part of an organization’s winning formula, and the organizations that create the best culture will attract and retain the best talent – thereby improving customer experience.
Sales and marketing alignment is always important, but when opportunities are scarcer and harder to turn into revenue, it’s non-negotiable. In 2023, we saw some improvement: 53% of sellers now say they’re aligned with marketing, and 51% of marketers say the same about sales (up from 42% and 44% in 2022).
To succeed, sales and marketing teams will need to embrace the “one revenue team” mindset, with shared pipeline goals and management, shared KPIs, and aligned budgets. It will be more crucial than ever for everyone – from executives to individual contributors – to play from the same sheet of music.
According to Gartner, revenue teams that align across the board can expect higher ROI, more efficient use of resources, faster sales cycles, and better customer retention – all essential in light of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Generative AI (GenAI) is now decidedly mainstream, with everyone you know and their grandmother talking about it. Expect to see it become less “party trick” and more “lifeboat on the horizon” in the coming months.
GenAI will fill gaps in revenue teams, with more organizations pairing it with other types of AI, such as predictive analytics, to have an exponentially greater effect.
In the face of the challenges already discussed, AI is poised to help B2B revenue teams make more money and get more done with the same size or smaller teams. AI makes light work of some of our more time-consuming tasks – for example, quickly producing post-event follow-up, blogs, white papers, case studies, and emails. At my company we’ve saved well over 100,000 hours of human hours using AI, including GenAI.
Now’s the time for businesses to figure out how to turn AI from novelty into lifeboat by training the AI on their own case studies, customer personas, and data (including intent data) to ensure it’s effective, relatable, and on-brand.
B2B revenue teams are facing a unique set of challenges. We’re working harder to achieve the same results. Budgets are tightening. Some employees are reaching a breaking point. Revenue leaders will need to innovate, drive alignment, and leverage AI as a key tool in enhancing efficiency and meeting increasing demands.
Latané Conant is Chief Revenue Officer of 6sense.