Many of you who read and follow my posts know that I’m passionate about elevating the professionalism of sales. It’s a great profession to be in. I cannot think of anything more gratifying than being able to help customers solve business problems. Still, sales as an industry has an image problem, because hustlers exist. You know the type… all they care about is meeting quota so they can head to President’s Club. Well, guess what, those types will be gone by 2020, if not sooner. Customers have spoken; they demand more!
I believe that creating sales experiences that knock buyer’s socks off–at every touchpoint in the buying and customer lifecycle–is how you win!
In the sales context, let me clarify what I mean by “customer experience.” I mean the positive or negative reaction at every interaction in the process of connecting with a prospect, working with them throughout their decision making process, closing the business, and retaining them as a happy customer for life.
This isn’t, of course, a new concept.
The conversation about delivering great customer experience has been ongoing for years. It seems common knowledge that great customer experiences lead to increases in revenue. Salespeople who solve problems and make it easy for buyers to do business with them definitely exceed their quotas.
CEB reported that 94% of customers who have a low-effort customer service experience will buy from that same company again. And, these buyers are willing to pay more. According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.
It is clear that buyers who feel they had a great experience with a vendor will not only buy again, but are actually willing to pay more for the product or service.
Why then aren’t we seeing more evidence of focus, especially from the sales point of view, being paid to customer experience?
Perhaps this is part of the problem: Bain & Company reports that 80% of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree.
A 72% difference in perspective. That’s a serious disconnect with reality, don’t you think? No doubt that disconnect translates right down to the sales organization, which most likely believes that their interactions with prospects and customers are stellar, too.
My belief is that companies – and the people who work in them – are so internally focused that they can’t see the forest for the trees.
If you are a sales leader, when is the last time you pretended to be a prospect and walked in their shoes?
Do you really know what it feels like to be bombarded with your sales messaging?
How about the sales meeting? Do you know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the pitch your salespeople are giving?
The question you should always be asking yourself is – would you buy from you and your company? If you did, my bet is that you would have a better picture of what’s really going on.
Customer experience isn’t about how fast your service team responds when something goes wrong. The customer experience is something that is proactive and top of mind for everyone in the company. Salespeople can have the biggest impact – positive or negative – on whether or not a sales opportunity can develop and progress to close. But beware because these activities are causing problems:
Cold calls with a pitch but no value for the buyer
Buyer time wasted in sales meetings, because the focus is on demo-ing your fancy software
Social channels used as a way to try to shortcut the selling process
The list, unfortunately, goes on.
Be ruthless in evaluating your processes from the customer’s point of view. Look hard at how your sellers are interacting with prospective customers. In today’s digitally connected world, people are growing impatient with outdated sales approaches. And, trust me when I say that buyers spread the word through their networks when they encounter salespeople who merely use social channels to broadcast more sales spam.
When it comes to your customers, how carefully are you evaluating existing relationships to ensure they continue to buy from you? Don’t wait for former customers to start spreading the word about your failings. By then, it’s too late.
Customer experience isn’t the next big thing in sales. It’s THE thing. Are you on board?