The customer experience in recent years has become increasingly complex. Despite this, however, a couple of simple things remain true:
- A business’ ability to retain customers is as important, if not more important, than its ability to acquire new customers, particularly when establishing a foundation for sustainable growth and long term success; and
- If the people and functions within business do not work closely and well together then they are unlikely to be able to deliver a great and consistent customer experience.
This sounds simple enough and many organizations get this.
But, there is evidence that many B2B companies have still not grasped these fundamentals and the role they play in delivering a well-designed, consistent and connected customer experience.
CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, in its recently released 2018-19 Annual Sales Performance Study (Selling in the Age of Ceaseless Change) found that nearly 60% of sales leaders and organizations are still focused on acquiring new customers despite the fact that revenue from new customers accounts for just under 30% of total revenue.
In addition, they also found that only 34% of organizations said that their sales and marketing teams had a jointly agreed process for how they would work together to nurture leads and only 30% said that their marketing and sales teams had a common lead definition.
So, has the experience revolution passed these companies by or is there something else going on?
Theresa O’Neil, VP of Marketing at Showpad, believes that one of the main reasons that many B2B organizations are lagging behind is that sales leaders are stuck on “the ‘won and done’ strategy because that’s how they’re incentivized and in turn, it’s how they incentivize their teams.”
As a result, if B2B organizations want to deliver a better customer experience then they are going to need to align their incentives and compensation plans with business objectives that reflect not only customer acquisition but also satisfaction and retention. Otherwise, as O’Neil notes, “change is unlikely to stick.”
Moreover, in terms of driving more coordination and collaboration between marketing and sales departments, Seleste Lunsford, Chief Research Officer of CSO Insights, suggests that while the disconnect between marketing and sales is an age-old problem it is one that has gotten worse in recent years as both these functions have become much more operationally focused implementing new processes, metrics and technology platforms to drive internal efficiency and effectiveness.
To combat this Lunsford suggests that organizations should “Align to the external, not the internal” meaning that “organizations should align sales and marketing to the customer’s journey” and not only to internal efficiency and performance metrics. Only by doing so will they give themselves a chance of eliminating any process mis-alignment, lack of coordination, cooperation or understanding.
The CSO Insights study concludes with the finding that the top performing organizations are those that have customer centricity at their heart, excel at sharing insights and educating their customers and have aligned their sales and marketing processes closely to their customer’s journey.
However, these results show that many B2B organizations still have a lot of work to do.