After muddling through a global pandemic and ongoing threats of recession, business leaders are hungry for growth. Many expect at least some level of budget increase in 2024; our recently published Planning Guides provide insight into the investments business and technology leaders should make to drive growth in the coming year.
Yet another level of planning is required as well: one that spans and aligns B2B functions to focus on customer value. Tactics focused on squeezing value from customers will not work. Business buyers are restless, discerning, and hard to please; buying cycles have grown more complex and unpredictable. Routes to market are diversifying to encompass more self-service options, particularly as digital natives lead more business buying decisions. No singular B2B function can successfully navigate this complexity on its own.
Planning season is the perfect time to band across functions to address these challenges, share functional insights and competencies, and build and fine-tune a customer-obsessed growth engine.
B2B marketing, sales, and product leaders should jointly consider the following key actions:
- Invest in revenue operations. Implementing a revenue operations function is the most direct way to strengthen operational capabilities and close persistent alignment gaps in B2B organizations. Revenue operations leaders and teams unify data, processes, technology, and talent to better serve the customer lifecycle and drive growth. By breaking down silos of data and insights across the business, revenue operations enables companies to form a shared view of the customer and ensure consistency in all customer acquisition, growth, and retention interactions.
- Build self-serve routes to market and hone digital buying interactions. Many B2B organizations have experimented with digital, self-service buyer engagement models. It’s time to make these experiments a permanent capability. Reduce friction in the purchasing process by enabling buyers to make website, marketplace, app store, and in-product purchases. Align teams on capabilities and messaging to make these options successful. Remember that purchasing is more than just a transaction — it’s a journey, so create a seamless experience for buyers across the full buyer lifecycle.
- Streamline technology and invest in tools that provide visibility into buying groups. Most revenue ecosystems include duplicative technologies — e.g., multiple CRM systems or partially overlapping technologies such as sales engagement platforms and account-based marketing technologies. Before investing in new tools, look to consolidate. Prioritize technology that gives a line of sight into buying groups, as that is how B2B buyers purchase. Solutions for mapping individuals to opportunities have reached technological reliability and maturity. While organizations may make different choices on the solution types that work best for them, having limited visibility into buying-group behavior is no longer an option for B2B organizations.
- Develop clearer guidelines for generative AI use. Although B2B teams have been working with AI (e.g., chatbots, targeting and personalization) for some time, generative AI has the potential to disrupt every aspect of B2B buying and selling processes. Explore where generative AI could have the most value for B2B marketers and sellers — for example, for capturing meeting notes, transcribing video and audio files, and drafting content. Task team members to keep up with developments, invest in AI literacy, and observe how other companies and industries are using AI to create and deliver better products. Initiate AI governance and risk assessments to ensure that it is used responsibly — for example, to keep sensitive customer and company data from being entered into the generative AI models and that any content you have AI generate is accurate.
Our 2024 Planning Guides provide more detailed budgeting insights and advice for marketing, technology, CX, and digital leaders. (Forrester clients can access all of our Planning Guides here.) Use the guides to discover where to invest, pull back, and experiment for success — and work in lockstep with your revenue engine peers to drive customer-oriented growth in the coming year.
To continue the B2B alignment conversation, join us for a LinkedIn Live panel discussion with Forrester’s B2B marketing and sales analysts on Thursday, Sept. 7th at 9 am EDT/3 pm CEST. Learn more.