April 12, 2022
Adam Mincham, B2B Marketing and Sales Executive
B2B Trends from unexpected places:
As most of us enter the 2nd quarter of 2022, in what continues to be a tumultuous 20’s era, I want to reflect on what I believe is happening in the rapidly changing business environment and how companies that partner with and sell to other Businesses (B2B) are looking to position themselves for strength in the months ahead by leveraging learnings from unexpected places within their organizations.
We are an analytics business. We look at how companies become “Bionic” and how data, tech and analytics work together with humans to improve, whether that is in the Customer Experience, the Employees Experience, the Forecasting and Planning of the Business, through to Operational excellence, Supply Chain and Profit Optimization. There are Trends that impact these areas ubiquitously and it is on the Enterprise to determine their own needs and deploy where there is the biggest Opportunity.
Key Trend 1: Behavioral Intent: Beyond the Marketing Use Case
With the advent of the great resignation, recruiters need to aggressively target and attract new candidates. They now need to leverage behavioral intent and focus on key candidates like marketers focusing on key prospects. Here is where cross-division learning and sharing can benefit a company. Marketing and Recruiting Teams are alike in their need to put messages in the market that cut through the noise and resonate with buyers and candidates alike, leveraging Behavioral and Intent data to understand what is important to the cohorts in hopes of standing out. The reality is, when given the option of two similar opportunities (to partner or work), most will look to how the brand aligns with your values and beliefs and without the luxury of time to understand, candidates/prospects need to have a strong sense of this digitally. In the Marketing World, 60%+ of this “homework” is done prior to engaging sales, this is not wholly different for candidates.
The Data Science Perspective: Each organization has access to their own Tech Platforms, Data Assets and Workflow Automation systems which unifies the approach. They learn from each teams processes, results, data, and tech platforms which will lead to better, more consistent experiences and more clarity in their messaging and targeting.
Key Trend 2: Sentiment Analysis: Learning more about our Customer Engagements
Customer and employee retention is critical to business success, in fact it is five times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain a current one. Replacing an employee can cost the organization up to 213% of the employee's salary, aside from the impact it has on teams and customers alike. With that being said, we are seeing large enterprises lean-in to monitoring employee sentiment. Gartner Analysis shows that 16% of employers are using tech to monitor employee engagement and well-being. Leveraging this data as the proverbial canary in the coal mine that can help get ahead of any potential issues and/or target underperforming areas of the business. I wrote a piece at the beginning of the year where I suggested that B2B Growth Leaders should also be using these practices to understand the health of Customers at account levels. A real time Customer Sentiment Score at an account level is a huge benefit for organizations. If leveraged and actioned correctly, this will significantly reduce the risk of churn, the reliance on CSAT, NPS or CES scores that are usually too infrequent and not usually representative of all cohorts engaged with the business.
The Data Science Perspective: We are seeing “sentiment” analysis happen in pockets across the Enterprise- specific tools for organizations that can track within the platform and rapid advancements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) are making it a reality. Until we look at Enterprise use cases across communication platforms (email, chat, ticketing systems and call centers etc.) we will not truly be able to trust or act on the data effectively. This is especially important in B2B organizations where there is a lot more engagement with Customers post sale.
Key Trend 3: Digital Selling: Moving to table stakes
The Pandemic has created unprecedented change in the B2B Sales approach. Aggressively shifting from in-person meetings, lunches, dinners, or golf games to becoming an expert in digital experiences, demos and virtual reality have forced sellers to adapt at breakneck speed. This too has forced Sales Operations teams to adapt and lean into more digital prospecting and engagement platforms, with the likes of Outreach and Salesify benefiting. Connecting these experiences to the digital marketing capabilities has also increased in prevalence. However, one of the areas where we see the most traction is in the buyer’s willingness to digitally commit to larger deals. Mckinsey research suggests that 35% of businesses are now willing to spend north of $500K (up from 27% in 2021) and 70% are willing to spend $50k or more on ecommerce. Additionally, DigitalCommerce360 shows that online sales have increased 17.8% to $1.63 Trillion in 2021 (more than double Consumer). This is forcing Sales teams to rapidly upgrade their tech, business process and GTM to allow customers to engage digitally, whether that be through Click to Quote for more complex solutions or moving the entire experience into eCommerce.
The Data Science Perspective: It is more important than ever to connect the digital experience across client facing teams, ensuring that foundational elements are consistent, and systems are connecting to allow customers to self-serve and for teams to quickly intersect at points of friction. Understanding your customers, knowing your accounts and ensuring your systems and processes can connect the dots is an ever-increasing necessity. Consider a CDP to centralize the connection of data and push back insights to each platform, leveraging the Edge Computing concept.
Key Trend 4: Supply Chain Challenges: Learning from Edge Computing
The Pandemic created unprecedented disruption to the Global Supply Chain. We have all lived through it. The relative macro issue being the ability to move freely across the globe and staffing challenges coupled with the pressure to reduce our carbon footprint has put a huge burden on Enterprises, who are thinking through ways to Think Global, Act Local. Looking at how they can create complex global networks of local partners to reduce environmental impact, while serving more customers. Decentralizing inventory and tying localized supply on demand adds to this, creating a hugely complex task that requires significant data, processing and ML to run scenarios and constantly monitor. However, technology, data and ML advancements are making this a reality. We can learn from the concept of Edge Computing and IOT, which moves the intelligence from a central source, closer to the point of use, decentralizing and localizing while maintaining central controls and governance.
The Data Science Perspective: Better leverage data and Machine Learning to improve agility, move from rear view analytics to predictive forecasting and exploit the micro-supply chains to stay ahead of the game.
To improve agility, leverage data and ML to move from rear view analytics to predictive forecasting and in turn exploit the micro-supply chains and stay ahead of the game.
Key Trend 5: Please not the Metaverse…Digital is critical but human experiences will always matter
A lot of the trends we are seeing are around improving digital experiences and leveraging data to inform our actions. It is also about reducing the margins of errors in our predictions and improving accuracy overall but the last trend I hope is one we will ground ourselves in too. As I read about the Metaverse and see the excitement around moving ourselves further into the digital ecosystem, I also want to put forward some caution. I akin this trend to the record industry and how Vinyl was on the way out in the 1990s yet in 2006 we saw a vast turnaround begin and by 2021 vinyl sales had grown 45-fold. Obviously digital alternatives were the driver of the initial demise, but physical experience was a large part of the turnaround. As CD’s died out and that physical connection moved to downloads and streaming, people wanted to get back to the experience of the artwork, the feel of the vinyl and the experience of hearing the imperfections. Grab a vinyl from the 60’s and 70’s, feel the weight of it, take time to admire the artwork and effort that went into it, then do the same for vinyl in the 80’s 90’s (decline) and again in the noughties (rise). You will see how the experience aligns to the trend!
The Data Science Perspective: There is none. Creating amazing experiences for people, digital should be table stakes in your new world while physical experiences should elevate you. Remember, less is more, quality is king!
Author Adam Mincham leads the B2B Practice at Blend360. Blend360 is a leading provider of data science and talent solutions services, serving Fortune 500 companies. It continues to be awarded as one of the fastest-growing companies, making the Inc. 5000 List of Fasting Growing Companies every year they have been in business.