What does 2023 hold for B2B marketing and sales? And what would you do differently if you knew? Forrester analysts with expertise that touches all portions of the B2B revenue engine — marketing, sales, and product — put our heads together to answer these questions.
To begin, we had to set a backdrop for 2023, and one thing that was clear is that B2B leaders are bracing for economic upheaval. Concerns about inflation, higher interest rates, supply chain shortages, and the prospect of a looming recession are already forcing go-to-market leaders to rethink their growth strategies. We’re anticipating organizations will work to minimize risk and focus their resources. The B2B organizations that are going to come out ahead are those that further orient their strategies and operations around their customer base.
Here’s a sneak peek at a few of Forrester’s 2023 predictions for B2B marketing and sales:
- Three times as many CMOs will make customer health a top priority. In light of economic uncertainty, B2B organizations will strive to grow in the places they know and the places they understand. As a result, B2B growth strategies will tilt heavily toward retention, cross-sell, and upsell revenues. Growing revenues within the existing customer base requires not only great products and services, but strong customer relationships. However, in 2022 only 11% of B2B marketing decision-makers responded that their company’s CMO dashboard featured customer health scores. Where customer health is not well-measured, it can’t be well-managed. We expect the use of customer health scores on CMO dashboards to triple in 2023 as an indicator of increased focus on customer health — and we’d be thrilled if even more B2B marketing organizations got on board to make customer health a top priority.
- The number of demand teams reporting into sales will jump to 20%. This was our most hotly debated prediction and is decidedly not a recommendation – it’s the anticipation that a simmering tension in B2B will reach a boiling point. As B2B organizations up their focus on existing customers, the need for sales and marketing to enhance alignment across all stages of the customer lifecycle will take centerstage. Yet, too many companies daunted by this challenge will respond by shuffling internal reporting lines, an unrealistically optimistic hope that reorganization will remedy misalignment. We’d much prefer to see companies tackle the alignment issue head on by addressing the texture of buying groups and the balance of opportunity types within their core go-to-market operations.
- Over 40% of B2B organizations will say goodbye to their channel marketing function. In this optimistic prediction, we’re anticipating the metamorphosis of channel marketing into something considerably greater — partner ecosystem marketing. We’ve been watching rapid growth in traditional and non-traditional B2B partnerships. A good portion of channel marketing, which had been focused on engaging transactional partners, will now formally expand its focus to the full spectrum of ecosystem business models (client access). This is a welcome development, as the continued rise and expansion of partner ecosystems is yet another way that B2B organizations align to buyer needs and preferences in their search for true solutions to their complex business problems.
To learn more about these predictions and how your organization should respond, read our report, Predictions 2023: B2B Marketing and Sales (client access). Not yet a Forrester client? Reach out to us to learn more, and explore our Predictions hub.