Just like many other research groups at Forrester Research in the past weeks, our team has gotten together, discussed, and agreed on a series of predictions for 2017 that will affect business-to-business (B2B) marketing professionals’ work. Forrester’s clients can review these in full detail in the published report, but here are some of the highlights. We have grouped our predictions into three sections.

Part 1: Account-Based Marketing Will Come Of Age In 2017

In 2016, vendors and consultants seriously hyped account-based marketing (ABM) — such that B2B marketing interest in it skyrocketed. In 2017, marketers will seriously consider new customer-obsessed approaches that team up marketing and sales to grow long-term highly engaged revenue relationships with key clients. ABM is a retro idea with revolutionary impact — especially when B2B marketing pros apply it to deepen relationships with the right customers at scale. And in 2017, we predict that ABM will:

  • Make the lead funnel (or waterfall) essentially obsolete.
  • Give marketing more ownership over post-sale customer experience (CX).
  • Drive advocate marketing as a key process.

Part 2: Vendor Consolidations Will Help Marketers Focus On Customers

ABM is not a new idea, but it’s attracting a bevy of aspiring vendors, which are all flocking to offer the next greatest marketing technology invention since word processing software. And we believe that 2017 will be the year that marketers say, “Enough is enough.” They’ll scale back on experimental tech while refining customer data management, analytics, and new processes that help coordinate message development with more personalized message delivery. B2B marketing technology choices will simplify in 2017 because:

  • Practical ABM usage will decrease the vendor cacophony by decibels.
  • B2B CMOs will challenge security officers to build one operations tech stack.
  • The predictive marketing automation market will consolidate.

Part 3: Customer Orientation Will Steer Organizations And Talent Decisions

The above-named automation efficiencies and account-specific strategies require a significant organizational and skill-set shift for most B2B marketing teams. They will also need to take steps to ensure that brands make good on promises to the market throughout the entire customer experience. To address these imbalances, we predict that:

  • Progressive B2B marketing leaders will organize around the customer life cycle.
  • Leadership teams will double down on customer insight/intimacy skills.
  • Customer obsession becomes the missing link between B2B brands and CX.

As you’d expect, our report goes on to discuss the deeper implications of each of these changes and provides actionable advice for Forrester clients.

Always keeping you informed! Peter