By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
Stark realities face B2B companies attempting to impact Customer Experience Management (CEM):
CRM software on steroids won’t get the job done (even if renamed CEM).
An increasing percentage of customer experiences begin electronically.
The way salespeople sell is the most significant factor in the customer experience.
Traditional product training causes many sellers to do something buyers despise: lead with product.
While the task is challenging, a sustainable competitive advantage awaits organizations that can overcome these obstacles. I’d like to share my thoughts about the barriers listed above:
Software’s role: Companies have learned an expensive lesson: CRM can’t manage B2B relationships. Few companies have an auditable sales process. Software without process just speeds up the mess. Don’t rely solely on software to improve the customer experience. It can’t and it won’t.
Electronic touches: Many vendors have 3-6 month sales cycles once organizations are ready to buy. Prospects may take 1-3 years to get ready. How does your website treat visitors? Does it relate product usage and potential results or spew product? The more specific messaging is to visitors the “stickier” the electronic relationship, increasing the likelihood prospects will contact you if and when they are ready to evaluate your offerings.
How salespeople sell: Most organizations haven’t aligned with the fact that people want to buy, not be sold. Buyers like to be in control. As an organization, consider redefining sales from that of convincing, persuading, etc. to empowering people to achieve their business goals. An average salesperson is just that. Sales Benchmark Index research found 87% of revenue is generated by 13% of the salespeople. Shifting their defined role from salespeople to buying facilitators is a first step in improving the buying experience.
Product training: Product training abdicates distilling silos of knowledge into meaningful sales calls to each salesperson. Few (13%?) are up to the task. They need help. If you can map the usage of your offerings to a specific title’s business goals, you can outline how a sales call can be made using a best practices approach. Asking questions versus telling allows buyers to buy. Average salespeople benefit when product and sales training are integrated.
Buyers believed the hype of CRM vendors and the benefits realized have failed to meet expectations. CRM software isn’t a magic bullet. It can be a framework to support CEM but only with the other process components in place. Software without sales process will continue to disappoint.