Customer retention is a growing concern, and one that many B2B companies are struggling to address. With the increasing number of touch points and customers’ changing expectations, it is more difficult for firms to meet prospect needs. In fact, ‘customer satisfaction and loyalty’ is one of the top three challenges for B2B organizations in 2017.
Customer experience has long been a priority for B2C companies, but it hasn’t been a focus for B2B organizations until more recently. The B2B selling space is evolving, funnel dynamics are shifting, and buyers are becoming better informed. Perhaps the most significant changes are the shift in the balance of power in the B2B purchase process, from the vendor to the buyer, and the changing expectations that prospects have of sales reps.
We have been hearing a lot about customer experience (CX) lately, but is it just a fad, or is it truly driving change and growth within B2B organizations? There are a few trends at play that explain the rise of CX and are likely to factor into its enduring success.
As stakes around customer experience go on to increase, strategies revolve around answers to ‘How to improve customer experience’. With the increase in digital avenues for such solutions, businesses are embracing digital measures to enhance customer experience… But is it a prudent step really? Let’s find out!
1. Customize the sales process
As Aberdeen says, “Personalization is a necessity to survive and thrive in the era of the empowered customer”. A one-size-fits-all approach to content and strategy is no longer an appropriate tactic. Sales reps must know who they are talking to, where the prospect is in the sales cycle, and how a buyer progresses through their journey. Identify the prospect’s persona (i.e. demographics, psychographics, geographics, firmographics, etc), the context of their pain points, and how this information can help to tailor the purchase process.
With sales asset management, a sales enablement tool makes this type of customization scalable. The technology recommends content based on a prospect’s stage in the sales process, helping to provide that personalized experience that buyers demand. Dashboards offer insight into real-time behaviors and into what prospects are looking for so that sales can engage each individual with relevant information.
An increasing change in the tech-savvy consumers has widened the gap between them and businesses that fall short of delivering the desired experiences. This widening gap is directly proportional to the growing rate of obsolescence and failures in meeting customer expectations.
Instead of facing extinction, why not embrace Digital and create fulfilling customer experiences? Sounds challenging? Fret not. Here’s a lowdown about top 5 digital forces that impact customer experience:
2. Adopt customer-centric initiatives
A customer-centric strategy represents a shift from focusing on the sales reps’ needs to focusing on the customers’ needs. This strategy fundamentally changes the game for sales reps who can no longer just use a generic pitch to promote the product. With a customer-centric mindset, sales reps are looking to identify the prospect’s pain point or challenge and then determine how their product is the solution, i.e. selling on value rather than on price. This type of ‘outcome model’ drives results for the prospect (by solving their problem) and for the sales rep (by generating revenue).
To execute a customer-centric strategy, sales reps must proactively build trusting customer relationships. But customers are increasingly demonstrating their willingness to engage in a relationship that’s more than transactional. Add value to every engagement so that you can effectively advance the customer to the next phase in the purchase process. Depending on their stage, this value could be in the form of content such as research reports, product information and data sheets, case studies, or even ROI calculators. A sales enablement tool can help to automate this workflow, increasing both productivity and efficiency.
3. Accelerate the sales cycle
Data from Marketing Insider Group shows that the average B2B sales cycle lasts about 10 months, but customers report that they would prefer a buying cycle of 6 months. If vendors can identify and then meet their prospects’ needs, they can help to bridge this gap.
Sales acceleration is about working smarter, faster, and more efficiently. And with predictive technologies this is possible – sales reps know who to call, when to call, and what content to provide in order to achieve optimal sales results. Features such as playbooks can also be used to equip the team with internal content, call scripts, and just-in-time coaching.
4. Anticipate customer behavior
In a Customer Think survey, 83% of B2B leaders indicated that they want more information and data that describes customer intentions and helps to create a holistic view of the customers. This is where data really comes into play. Use predictive analytics to anticipate, understand, and influence the future directions of customer needs and behaviors. This enables sales reps to be more proactive and sell smarter.
B2B organizations must have the tooling in place to collect trusted, accurate, and meaningful information. A sales enablement tool can anticipate the outcome of a particular sales situation and proactively recommend content and selling strategies based on real-time data, best practice, and similar sales scenarios.
5. Enable your sale and success teams
According to a survey by Avanade, B2B customers are willing to pay up to 30% more for a product or service that offers improved customer experience. Sales and service can no longer be two separate entities – they are interrelated functions that must work together to drive the customer experience.
A sales enablement tool can empower sales reps making new sales, as well as renewals, cross-sells, and upsells. In any of these sales scenarios, the rep must understand the product or service and have a level of knowledge deep enough to make a sale. They need to easily be able to find and access content and know what to share and when.
George Garcia is Founder & CEO of Hatchery Works. He is responsible for working with emerging market distributors and manufactures to enhance their e-Commerce performance.