Why is it so important for all your teams to have a single view of the customer?
Think about the last time you called the cable or phone company to fix a problem. You were probably transferred from agent to agent, having to explain the problem all over again each time. Fun, right?
The same experience often plays out in B2B buying scenarios, where the seller has done an excellent job of identifying your needs and explaining how their business could help you meet your goals. You are excited to get the process going. Then, you meet with your new customer success manager, who promptly demonstrates a lack of understanding about your business, your challenges, or the solutions you came up with in partnership with the seller. You are immediately frustrated and question the decision you made.
So how can organizations remedy this?
Use ABM to Get a Single View of the Customer
When you have a single view of the customer, you can treat the customer’s business challenges holistically and offer real value. This will keep customers happy and engaged with you.
Using account-based marketing (ABM) approaches, marketers can gain a deep understanding of specific industries, and then specific target customers within that industry.
In a typical ABM campaign, you will identify customers in your target list who begin to show interest in your solutions. As these customers show interest, the members of the buying committee become clear, their business challenges start to take shape, and you learn more about their business to refine your messaging to them.
What Marketing Is Responsible For
Whenever marketing hands an opportunity to the sales team, it must also produce an overview document about the potential customer. That document must include everything marketing knows about the prospect’s business, including needs, business challenges, and profiles of people on the buying committee. At scale, you will want systems in place to dynamically construct this document based upon data in your ABM system, your CRM, and elsewhere.
As your marketing team educates the prospect, it also uncovers a lot of information. These efforts are ongoing and are designed to achieve the following:
- Every person working with the customer has a shared understanding of the customer’s challenges
- Every individual at the customer level – and those supporting the customer (e.g., other vendors) – will be marketed to with appropriate information as the team becomes aware of them
- Everyone involved can define the solutions being presented to the customer to overcome their challenges
What Sales Is Responsible For
The salesperson takes the lead and partners across the organization to uncover all business needs, identify decision makers, and demonstrate they are the right fit for the buyer.
The salesperson pulls people into the process as needed. Examples include:
- Partnering with professional services to create a one-off tool
- Working with customer success to create a customized onboarding experience to meet a specific customer need
- Leveraging channel partners to present a combined solution
At this point, the customer experience should be outstanding. With each conversation, individuals gain insights that impact their decision making, and the entire team continues to move forward – not forced to restate problems, explain what they do, or educate sellers on their specific industry needs and restrictions. All data captured by the seller, and additional information uncovered through ongoing marketing activities, help create a single overview to reference as your prospect becomes a customer.
What Customer Success Is Responsible For
Businesses often create friction at the point that a prospect chooses to become a customer when the customer success manager demonstrates a lack of understanding about their business, challenges, or the solutions co-created with the sales team. The same approach we discussed in the last section applies here. Sales should provide their customer success teams with a customer overview document, one that includes:
- Notes about their industry and company
- Information about all members of the buying committee
- The business problems they are looking to solve with your solutions
- Any info on expectations set around timing
- Specific functional needs discussed during the buying cycle
- For existing customers, an overview of what they currently have in place
- For existing customers, an overview of all support cases logged in the past and any remaining open issues
As with the sales team, customer success needs to map the information they have on top of their standard onboarding approaches and success plans, customizing for the new customer.
Successful and satisfied customers require a team approach. This requires sales, customer success, and marketing to partner to ensure existing customers renew as well as to identify new business problems for which you can sell them solutions.
None of these steps are revolutionary! In fact, creating a better and more effective digital customer experience is as easy as:
- Streamlining processes and communications
- Never making the customer feel like we are dropping the ball in terms of our understanding of their needs
- Personalizing their experience, so they are not feeling like some product moving along our assembly line
- Taking a collaborative internal approach to meet each customer’s needs
The result? The buyer receives the information they need, delivered through a string of valuable customer experiences that demonstrate the vendor’s capabilities to solve their business challenges. The vendor is predictable, consistent, and their number one choice with which to partner.
After all, with customer experience so closely impacting the bottom line, can organizations afford to overlook this part of the sales and marketing strategy?
John Moore is VP of revenue enablement at Bigtincan.