The B2B revenue organization is changing, and for the better.
We’ve spent the past four months talking to dozens of revenue leaders at B2B companies of all shapes and sizes. And it’s clear that everyone’s mind is on transformation. Some of this started when the pandemic forced businesses to change almost everything overnight. And when it became clear the pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon, many companies took a more proactive stance to take control of these changes. For others, they’ve been on the leading edge of this transformation for a while, and are setting the standard for what a successful revenue organization looks like in the 2020s.
Here are 9 ways the revenue organization is evolving.
1. Successful revenue leaders use systems thinking.
Everything is connected in a revenue organization - from awareness to acquisition to retention to support. Changes to one component impact the entire system, sometimes in ways we couldn’t have predicted. Improving one process is good, but improving the system as a whole is better.
That’s one reason you see such a diverse range of topics on our blog, for example. The best revenue leaders recognize the importance of knowing what’s going on across an organization. A VP of Sales has to coordinate with the head of marketing, and be closely connected to the account management team.
2. Geographic territories are obsolete.
Aside from high-level regional considerations, geographic territories just don’t make sense for most B2B SaaS businesses any more. Many sales teams are moving to territoryless models that are simpler for account allocation and rebalancing, and far more efficient than outdated geographic models. Places don’t buy things; people do. It’s important to segment your company’s market, customer base, and teams based on a measure of value - preferably potential value.
3. All sales is inside sales.
The pandemic kicked a lot of business transformation into high gear this year, first out of necessity and later out of efficiency. That includes moving to remote sales teams. Many of the companies we talked to have already transitioned away from (or never even had) field sales. The rest have adapted to a mostly inside sales team, and are starting to appreciate the benefits for a vast majority of their accounts.
4. Focus on compassionate optimization.
The revenue organization is a system, and as such, it can and should be improved. But these optimizations can come at a cost, and it’s important to consider the full range of consequences to any changes you’re considering. That includes the impact on customers, employees, the product, maybe even the world. How will these optimizations impact end users? Leaders are focusing on optimization and automation, but balancing those changes with consideration for all stakeholders involved.
5. Customers should actually come first.
We constantly hear terms like customer focused and customer obsessed. Most companies consider themselves customer-driven, but many don’t walk their talk when it comes to a customer-first approach. Not yet, at least. Revenue leaders are increasingly focused on listening to the voice of the customer, truly understanding the customer lifecycle, and uncovering better data about customer needs and product usage, all in an effort to better reach their customers.
6. Unifying customer experience and employee experience makes a better everyone experience.
Customer experience, user experience, employee experience, brand experience - every department manages some kind of stakeholder experience. But they often end up being disconnected experiences that vary wildly from person to person. This can muddle your overall brand experience. In the best case, it’s just confusing or annoying. But in the worst case, a bad company experience can result in lost customers and employees. Dedicating resources to ensuring a consistent, excellent experience throughout an organization is worth the effort.
7. Marketing doesn’t stop when the deal closes.
Everyone has realized the importance of customer marketing. Forrester predicts that “spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30% in 2021.” Revenue leaders know customer retention and expansion is essential for growth, and that the fastest path to that growth is increasing NRR. But who owns customer marketing? This question comes up over and over. Some companies keep customer marketing in their larger marketing department, while others run customer marketing from a customer success team. There’s often tension between these teams no matter where it lives, and those tensions can lead to inconsistencies, confusion, and dissatisfaction.
8. Kindness is cool again.
We’ve heard a lot of talk about trust, kindness, and empathy this year. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of connection, as well as the power of purpose. This year, the companies that have been transparent, communicative, and purpose-driven have performed better than those that haven't. Embodying trust and purpose impacts how companies interact with their customers and their employees, with everyone from the CEO to the frontline sales professionals playing a role.
9. AI, machine learning, and automation are more than just buzzwords.
From enablement to pipeline management to outreach, intelligent software that learns from a company’s business data can streamline that company’s entire sales motion. Right now, most reps use about 6 tech tools, many of them point solutions that automate tasks like calls and calendars. Sales leaders are continuing to invest in the technology that underpins their processes, and are looking for more sophisticated automation and intelligence technology that works across the entire revenue organization.