How Your B2B MarTech Can Help Recession-Proof Your Business

The past few years have been a rollercoaster ride, not only for B2B but the entire economy. Everything was going smoothly – until the pandemic hit. We recovered (or so it seemed), but now, signs are pointing to another downturn. Ad spend across all categories has declined 12.7% year-over-year, and 47% of B2B leaders say they are somewhat worried about a recession.

That means B2B leaders are also thinking about how to recession-proof their organizations. In a strong economy, prospecting and net new business are the norm. Every business wants to close more deals and do so faster. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Pipeline acceleration should be top of mind for everyone. But don’t forget the subset of the market that comes with no acquisition cost to you: current customers.

Many B2B companies operate cyclically, with customers coming up for renewal at regular intervals and retaining those customers is essential to recession-proofing your business. That’s why account-based marketing (ABM) doesn’t just focus on prospecting and pipeline acceleration, but also on retaining customers and expanding the footprint of services within each account. And ABM software is designed to help you with this goal. 

Leveraging Technology For Revenue Protection

Overall, businesses tend to make revenue technology investments to support and supercharge their prospecting efforts. Your MarTech plays a key role in boosting marketing’s contribution to topline revenue and in sales enablement, which I think of as the process of arming your sales team with the information, content and tools they need to sell better. 

Yet your MarTech stack can also play a key role in customer retention and winning those renewals your business needs during a recession. One key piece of software, especially for ABM, is 6sense, a predictive intelligence platform that uncovers buyer behavior to help you get from pipeline to revenue, faster and you can also use it to build powerful customer retention strategies. Let’s dive in. 

Intent Signals: The Fuel That Powers ABM

At its core, ABM aims to create a more connected and integrated marketing strategy. It helps create a synergistic structure through which to drive better alignment across teams. Most of all, it moves away from episodic marketing toward something more focused, deliberate and orchestrated. Intent signals are the high-octane fuel that powers all successful ABM. 

What Is Intent?

Think of intent as an aggregate set of signals coming from a specific subset of your market that may indicate an elevated interest in your product, service or solution. Stronger signals equal increased readiness to buy. It’s important to note that not all signals or activities sourced to a target account are indicative of buying intent. In very basic terms, intent helps you develop smarter campaigns by uncovering content consumption patterns you then ascribe meaning to. That means it can be used to indicate not only readiness to buy, but also readiness to defect.

Intent also comes in different forms. It can be first-party data in the form of activities on your site tracked and logged by your ABM platform, but importantly, it can also be research done outside your field of vision. Strong intent graphs are key to optimizing the signal-to-noise ratio. In addition, teams need to invest time curating the right keyword taxonomy and managing it to reflect changes to the business or in the market. 

Curating Your Keyword Taxonomy

Sourcing the right keywords, building the right taxonomy and assessing results will help you surface the right intent, broad enough so that you’re not missing out on meaningful signals but narrow enough to ignore the noise. 

  • Signals from keywords, Bombora topics and other sources like G2 and TrustRadius (all of which 6sense’s Revenue AI platform has native data connectors with) allow you to understand content consumption patterns outside your field of vision you can use to derive in-market intent. The 6sense platform organizes keywords into two main organizational categories:
    • Branded keywords (specific to the brand or brand-adjacent), which are strong indicators of in-market intent and purchase readiness.
    • Generic keywords, which are broader terms that relate to industry concepts, solutions or services. They are meaningful in their own right, but weaker overall and therefore indicative of a more preliminary evaluation.
  • De-anonymized web activity (at the account level) is also a reliable and accessible source of intent data. Plugging in a platform like 6sense helps you understand the firmographic and technographic characteristics of the companies visiting your site. 6sense’s acquisition of Slintel in 2021 adds accuracy and confidence to this by delivering a data-first, carefully curated intelligence layer that supplements your own first-party data. One strategy I suggest is to classify pages on your site relative to how indicative each is of B2B buying intent:
    • High intent: Pricing, demo requests, etc.
    • Medium intent: Solution or service pages, etc.
    • Low intent or no intent: Career pages, Terms & Conditions, or investor relations pages

How To Use Intent For Retention And Cross-Sells

Intent is often used to find potential new buyers and track their interest, so you can serve them the right content at the right time and move them through the funnel to an eventual sale. But as I mentioned, it can also be used to develop customer retention strategies. Because of 6sense’s extensibility, building a connected ecosystem is relatively easy. Plug in your CRM, expose key datasets to 6sense’s segmentation layer and you can power these two key plays that often get overlooked.

Defection Prevention and Renewals

Are your current customers thinking about leaving you? 6sense can help you find out. The following process will give you the intel your CSMs need to navigate the renewal process in a way that will help curb attrition, like developing talk tracks and battle cards that show your customers why you’re better than the competition they’re researching. 

  1. Tap into your CRM (e.g., account or company objects or a pre-created report) to identify your active client roster.
  2. Layer in key intent signals to understand behavior that may hint at a defection (e.g., competitive keyword research or solution comparisons on G2).
  3. Build an alerting framework to notify your renewal/customer success teams that companies in their book are exhibiting signals that may put the renewal at risk.

Customer Education And Cross-Sells

Are your customers aware of all the services you offer? There’s a good chance they’re searching for solutions from other companies. 6sense can help your CSMs close the educational gap and talk to current clients about the supplementary or complementary solutions they need, but aren’t aware you offer. This type of data can also help media teams develop 1-to-1 cross-selling motions for existing customers with the highest commercial upside to apply pressure at both ends of the relationship spectrum. Here’s how to set it up. 

  1. Tap into your CRM (e.g., account or company objects or a pre-created report) to identify your active client roster.
  2. Listen for specific topical intent (e.g., services or solutions your customers are researching that they have not contracted you for).
  3. Build an alerting framework to notify CSMs that companies in their book are doing research related to solutions not currently part of the agreement.

Demand generation is important, but securing renewals and expanding your footprint across existing relationships is equally important during a downturn. Investing in data-centric, audience-first technology powered by rich market data and a best-in-class intelligence layer like 6sense is just a good decision. We live in a time where every associate is part of the revenue team you don’t need to be a seller, carry a quota or get financial performance bonuses to impact revenue. For more on how BOL and 6sense can help your revenue team succeed, schedule a call with us.