B2B Trends & Customer Success

Around the end of each year, something weird happens to B2B marketers: they all tend to drop their usual hats in exchange for a crystal ball and as a result, the marketing world is flooded with posts about what to expect for the next year in trends.

Now that we’re halfway through 2016, we can check in on how accurate some of those 2015 predictions were, and how those trends are impacting Customer Success.

Driven by data

Back in February, HubSpot shared this infographic, highlighting data-driven decisions as a trend to watch in 2016.

For success teams, this might mean more emphasis on data-driven support, particularly when it comes to SaaS companies. With the right tools, success teams can get insight into which customers are planning to cancel, which customers need help, and which customers are potential advocates.

But data doesn’t always have to come through an app. Having ongoing conversations with other teams within the company, such as sales, marketing and dev can give Success teams essential information on what customers expect of the product and services.

Outbound Returns

Inbound marketing is still having its time in the sun, but more marketing and sales teams are turning to account-based marketing and outbound sales tactics to achieve results.

Before a company’s ideal customer signs the agreement, marketing and sales teams would have gathered essential information about the company, key contacts, and the challenges faced by the team at the target company.

Once the prospect becomes a customer, this information needs to be accessible to the Success team. From a support perspective, ‘account-based marketing’ becomes account-based management, which is a fancy way of saying that support is tailored to each account – your customers’ goals, history, key metrics, and deadlines.

In the Success world, outbound is not new: app updates, upgrade opportunities, account notices – while not strictly outbound sales, these are a few ways that Customer Success teams have been practicing outbound since Customer Success became a thing. What may have changed slightly is where more opportunities for sales or account-based marketing fall in line with Customer Success.

Enabling the Sales Team

In 2014, Salesforce described ‘sales enablement’ as “a collection of tasks and tools that are intended to improve the execution of key sales activities — activities like making sales calls, pursuing opportunities, managing major accounts, and targeting top prospects.”

Two years later, and even though the definition hasn’t changed, sales enablement has expanded. Customer Success can play an immense role — here are a few examples showing how:

  • Helping to train new sales team members on product and services;
  • Managing the company’s knowledge base, which can be used by the sales team to help educate prospects;
  • Providing the sales team with data about the company’s customer base, like industries or verticals served;
  • Calling out and developing case studies — current customers who can act as references and examples of success.

At the end of this year, marketers will once again turn on their psychic lens to offer their list of what will shape success for B2B companies in 2017. Often these predictions have no impact on what actually happens within Customer Success teams.

New (and old) ways of attracting, getting and keeping customers will continue to grow and fade with popularity, and often change the role of Customer Success before most prediction posts are published.

What’s more interesting than what we think will change Customer Success, is what really changes Customer Success. In the last year, have you noticed any B2B trends that have changed how you do your job? If so, what are they?