When sales and marketing teams work together they can prove to be an unstoppable force. But this joined up approach, widely coined as ‘smarketing’, should no-longer be just a distant dream or aspiration for businesses, as it is becoming crucial for success.
Today’s B2B buyers have high expectations. They are informed, savvy and aren’t afraid to shop around. Therefore, providing a solid customer experience and getting it right first time is what it’s all about.
When it comes to generating outstanding results, keeping existing customers happy and securing new contracts, nothing is going to be as effective as having fully integrated teams that are working as one. But we’re not just talking about sales and marketing here. To present the strongest possible offering to customers, you need to take your smarketing up to a whole new level – and that means ensuring that customer services is also part of the mix.
Avoid the gap
The bigger your organisation is, the greater the risk that gaps may exist between teams (these may be more like huge canyons in some organisations). Different teams may be working on various strategies and campaigns, all in isolation. As well as the effect this can have on external relationships and sales results, internally it’s also not the best place to be, as it can lead to a whole host of issues, including rivalry, conflict and blame.
While some businesses may have started to try to tackle this by having teams coming together and meeting up more regularly - to begin building better lines of communication - without a complete cultural shift when they get back to their own departments the cracks can begin to show again.
The place you want to reach is where sales, marketing and customer services are all fully engaged and on the same page. Everyone needs to know what the overall company goals are and how each individual role fits within that. They need to pool their insights, information and knowledge to map out the customer journey, decide what the buyer personas should be, make decisions over marketing strategies and content, and agree what a hot lead will look like and when those leads should be passed from one team to another.
Everyone should know exactly how the different processes work and what the expectations are for each team. All three teams will bring something unique to the table and it is the combination of these insights that will ensure a strong and smooth customer experience.
Why it’s good to talk
So why is it so important that teams are working as one?
In this always ‘on’ and connected world, customers are increasingly demanding. This goes hand in hand with a shift towards businesses becoming far more customer centric. And with good reason - research by Deloitte & Touche has found that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies that are not focused on the customer.
Most B2B buyers nowadays won’t speak with a sales rep until they are good and ready. When they have a ‘need’ they will start investigating solutions themselves online and amongst their peers. They will decide when to contact a supplier and by that time will already be armed with a host of information, including research into the competition.
So start by asking yourself:
- Are you ready to tackle this new breed of buyer?
- Are you primed and geared up to attract them in the first place?
- Do you even have a chance of being contacted by them?
As well as new clients, retaining customers and growing existing accounts is definitely not something that just happens. It needs to be worked at. That is another reason that you need to take a holistic approach, with all relevant departments working together to ensure each individual client’s needs are being met.
Advanced in technology can help with many elements of the sales journey. This can range from the creation of powerful CRM systems to track and monitor your sales process, right through to using the availability of big data to help you understand what a client wants even before they do! But above all, what customers want and demand is the best customer experience.
But being customer-centric isn’t always easy to achieve, so what steps can you take to ensure customers are at the heart of your operations?
1) Revisit your buyer personas
If the marketing department worked alone to define what the buyer personas are that your content will be created for, then you’re missing a major trick. The personas are incredibly important for all departments that have anything to do with fulfilling client needs. (Be careful here not to confuse your buyer personas with your ideal target client descriptions. They are two very different things.)
Bring sales, marketing and customer services teams together to revisit your buyer personas. Make sure they are up to date and as accurate as possible, then roll them out across all departments. Remember, it’s not just about titles and roles, look for behaviour, goals, attitudes and aptitudes as well, to better segment your prospects and client base.
2) Know how to create and deliver value
Are you delivering real value to your customers? Your immediate response may be ‘of course we do’, but do you really? We’re not talking about pricing levels here. Look beyond your products and services and think what other value you are delivering?
Consider your company’s entire value proposition – why should a prospect buy from you, what sets you apart from the competition? If you can get this element right, it will give you a huge boost. Plus, ignore it at your peril! 86% of respondents to a Harris Interactive survey said they would pay more if they could guarantee superior service and 89% of respondents who had recently switched from a business to its competitor did so because of poor service.
3) Check all your communications are relevant
The issue of relevancy is vital for any organisation that is aiming to be more customer-centric. It is about showing a customer that you understand them, you understand their needs right now, and you listen and can provide something unique to them and their situation. Get it wrong and you may struggle to build customer loyalty and find your customers leave you for a better offer. If they feel they’ve had a bad experience then it’s also unlikely they’ll return again.
Start by checking that your company communications are all up to date and relevant to your target audience. Creating a bad impression can be as simple as hitting a customer with a string of irrelevant emails. You want to be sending out the right message, at the right time, to the right person.
Overall, the secret to being customer centric is to start every action and decision you make by thinking about your target customer. Then by having all departments working seamlessly together to deliver an exceptional customer experience, which offers real value and relevancy, you'll be putting yourself in an extremely strong position.
Long gone are the days when Sales and Marketing teams could operate in isolation, as their own little islands. Download our free guide to discover how real alignment of sales and marketing benefits both teams, means greater success in hitting targets, and results in a better customer experience.