Despite the slow pace of the economic recovery in recent years, B2B companies are now bullish about their prospects for growth. According to SiriusDecisions data presented at Summit 2014 in Orlando today, 28 percent of B2B companies with annual revenue of less than $500 million and 30 percent of companies with revenue of more than $500 million expect to grow by more than 20 percent in the next 12 months.

These and other findings from the SiriusDecisions Confidence Index, the first survey of its kind to study B2B companies’ growth strategies and expectations, were presented this afternoon by John Neeson, managing director and co-founder of SiriusDecisions, and Jim Ninivaggi, service director of Sales Enablement Strategies for Sirius. The study gathered data from 300 companies’ sales, product and marketing executives in the United States, EMEA and APAC, across 25 industries.
John Neeson: The Intelligent Growth Model
Of course, optimism is one thing; execution is another. In order to grow, you need to know what works. The new SiriusDecisions Intelligent Growth Model, introduced by John and Jim during their presentation, analyzes five pillars of growth that B2B companies can choose from or combine. In descending order of prevalence (as indicated by the Confidence Index data), they are:

  • Expanding into new markets (28 percent of companies with less than $500 million in revenue; 26 percent of companies with more than $500 million in revenue). In a crowd-sourced Summit poll, when asked “What will your primary growth pillar be in 2014?” the majority of Summit participants also reported that they will focus on targeting new buyers vs. the other four pillars.
  • Introducing new offerings (companies with less than $500 million in revenue: 26 percent; more than $500 million in revenue: 25 percent)
  • Selling to new buyers (companies with less than $500 million in revenue: 19 percent; more than $500 million in revenue: 18 percent)
  • Increasing productivity (companies with less than $500 million in revenue: 17 percent; more than $500 million in revenue: 15 percent)
  • Acquisitions (companies with less than $500 million in revenue: 8 percent; more than $500 million in revenue: 14 percent) 

For each of these growth pillars, John and Jim offered suggestions for marketing, sales and product to facilitate growth. For example, for organizations seeking to grow by expanding into new markets, the following approaches were suggested:

  • Marketing: Use relative targeting to hone in on the audience; clearly define the buyer’s journey; and soften the market through nurture streams.
  • Sales: Focus on sales enablement. Salespeople must demonstrate industry knowledge and be armed with content that incorporates the vernacular of the new industry.
  • Product: Innovation and speed to market are key in a new market. To maintain a foothold in the new market innovation must continue through the product lifecycle.  

To sum up:

  • The good news: A sense of global optimism among B2B companies is creating a dynamic and productive environment that encourages innovation. 
  • The bad news: The growth of many organizations is hampered by a lack of investment, the inability to hire and retain top talent, and misaligned growth strategies.
  • The bottom line: The companies that anticipated and prepared for growth will take the early lead; the others will have to transform to catch up.