In today’s business environment, the idea that customer interactions funnel through a single person called a sales rep is outdated. Everyone sells in an organisation, particularly in a subscription model where a large portion of the revenue stream is secured by renewals and cross-sales. Even when the sales rep brings in a deal, everyone on the delivery side with a customer-facing role is responsible for keeping the customer – or watching them leave.
That means the industry’s emphasis on improving win rates by focusing on sales force automation is implicitly flawed. Accenture uses the term 'the switching economy' to characterise the changing dynamics behind purchase decisions today. They report that 81% of customers may have been prevented from switching to other brands if the service provider would have done something differently. The better the client’s experience of interacting with the company, the higher the chances are that a renewal happens.
The customer may or may not choose to state that 'something' actually caused them to look elsewhere but when companies work diligently to more tightly align customer-facing departments, making sure every interaction is captured, shared, and factored into the customer journey - a more satisfactory customer experience is usually the end result.
Improving Sales by Aligning Marketing, Sales and Service Processes
Alignment is the key word in the above, and what often makes the difference between companies with higher churn rates and companies with longer lasting customer relationships. Alignment of marketing, sales and service can help to shape a seamless customer experience that moves inquiries from leads, to deals, to loyalty. It should be the ultimate goal for any business – and the key to helping teams generate more revenue.
Yet such a seemingly simple objective is sometimes easier said than done. How many of us as consumers have faced the frustrating experience discussing numerous needs and options with a sales team, only to have the service department asking the same questions. To us, the company isn’t listening – it’s wasting our time – and doesn’t have a cohesive grasp of our needs. It’s a perception that is likely to color follow-on interactions with the brand.
One of the opportunities to connect the dots between marketing, sales and service is to use CRM technology that is designed to unify all customer-facing processes. This involves many things: shared goals, common milestones and metrics, streamlined business processes, and smart technology investments. While some 70% of executives identify cost savings as a key benefit to connecting departments and data on one platform - the biggest benefit is the 360-degree view of the customer’s needs, which enables a more streamlined customer experience and ultimately, higher win rates.
Here are three ways to make such alignment a reality:
1. Define cross-functional processes as a first step in organising the customer journey and aligning the data from key business departments. This will give all teams visibility into what each is doing, and unite them to work toward a common revenue goal.
2. Consolidate data to have a 360-degree customer view and access to the most detailed and accurate customer information. Sales, marketing and service people often use radically different customer profiles and different technologies to automate processes – when natural synergies readily exist. For example service agents could access the product options already offered to the customer and the questions that’s already been asked, ensuring that this information doesn’t need to be repeated. This makes the customer feel that working with the company is similar to working with a single individual who hears their needs - and is more likely to make the customer want to come back.
3. Set up the processes and use the technology that helps to deliver the same customer experience regardless of where or how the customer interacted with the brand. Customers have preferences on communication channels for their dialogues. When shaping the positive customer experience, the goal should be to deliver the same customer experience through all communication channels by all customer facing reps regardless whether they work in marketing, sales or service. Companies’ reps have to have a clear understanding of the customer’s preferred communication channel as well as employ the technology that enables them to interact with the client through all the channels equally well.
CRM systems that focus as much on functionality to align marketing, sales and service as they do on automating the sales force are better equipped for today’s new selling environment. They can more efficiently deliver an optimal experience throughout the complete customer journey – and achieve the heightened win rates their managements seek.