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Mind the Customer Experience Gap

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Enablement Strategy

“A time of great change is also a time for great opportunity.”

Jennifer O’Neill, Director of Global Sales Enablement at Medallia, got it right during her SiriusDecisions Summit Europe presentation. The B2B landscape in Europe and around the globe is rapidly changing, opening doors to the companies that are nimble enough to keep pace and closing them on those who refuse to adapt.

This realisation was front and center at the Summit. For two days, sales, marketing, and sales enablement leaders explored the factors it takes to succeed in the modern market. Amid the discussions, one insight continually surfaced: cross-team enablement is crucial for an extraordinary customer experience.

Modern buyers have evolved to expect a cohesive journey. But today’s B2B buyers interact with an average of nine different roles before signing on the dotted line, making it very difficult to deliver a seamless experience. The consequence: A gap between what customers want and what companies deliver.

Our recourse is to implement processes and technologies that empower every customer-facing employee to exceed expectations, at every stage of the journey. Based on takeaways from the event, here are three ways to not only mind – but close – the customer experience gap.

Create a Culture of Alignment

How can sales, marketing, and other customer-facing teams work better together? It’s a top-of-mind question for forward-thinking organisations. Operating in silos is no longer an option, and blame is not a viable solution. While different functions will always have different objectives, all teams need to unite under the common goal of providing an exceptional customer experience.

Aligning sales and marketing can deliver massive gains in productivity and profit. It’s the foundation for enabling sales teams to deliver better buyer engagements that grow revenue and deepen customer relationships. Forrester Research found that aligned organisations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth, while less aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue.

During his keynote presentation, SiriusDecisions’ Senior Research Director Peter Ostrow emphasised the importance of all teams holding a shared view of the customer. He explained: “The common theme is recognition that if we reverse engineer from what really matters – obsession with the optimised customer experience – we have no choice but to proactively and consistently enable every single member of the organisation and partner ecosystem who will interact with the customer.”

A key first step is providing the guidance for each function on “what good looks like.” You can achieve this through mapping competencies to personas – skills, knowledge, and processes – and sharing this information alongside demonstrative examples that help team members put it all into practice. At Highspot, we leverage our platform’s SmartPage technology to equip our customer-facing teams with a combination of content paired with guidance – which we define as “what to know, what to say, and what to show.”

By aligning roles, goals, systems, and technologies, you’ll have a strong foundation on which to build a connected customer experience.

Remember Customer-Centricity is a Destination – Not a Strategy

If customer-centricity is the destination, buyer enablement is a roadmap to get there. Too often companies confuse customer-centricity as a strategy when in reality, it is better treated as a value or an approach. When we shift our attention to discovering tangible tactics to make our companies more customer-centric, we immediately become more proactive.

Imagine you’re a marketing leader evaluating a piece of content. Rather than getting hung up on if the asset is “customer-centric” enough, consider whether it will help a buyer move through their journey. This lens shifts the focus from the company to the consumer; the mindset moves from, “How can we create content to ensure our company is seen as customer-centric?” to “How can we create content that empowers our buyer?”

We must put ourselves in our buyers’ shoes to close the customer experience gap. Buyer insights, uncovered through persona research and analytics from sales enablement platforms, are critical to achieving this perspective.

Empower Your Teams with Sales Enablement

“Not another platform” is a feeling we’ve all experienced. Inundated with various technologies, tool fatigue is a common symptom of our digital era. How can we identify the tools that will make our lives easier instead of overcomplicate?

This was a question that Medallia’s Jennifer O’Neill asked herself when she stepped into her new role as Director of Global Sales Enablement. With Medallia having recently gone public, the pressure to hit numbers was greater than ever – and the challenges were mounting. The sales team was burdened with spending five to 15 hours a week just trying to find the content they needed to have a great customer conversation, and the content creators had no insight into content use or performance.

Amidst the rapid organisational change, Jennifer recognised an opportunity to do things differently – she brought Highspot onboard. With a robust sales enablement programme and platform, teams had the means to not only hit their numbers, but power Medallia’s mission of helping businesses become companies their customers and employees love.

Sales enablement goes beyond improving productivity and effectiveness – it’s the foundation that teams need to have great customer conversations, resulting in the kind of experience that fosters loyal, trusted partnerships. To find out more about how sales enablement can help you close the customer experience gap, download the 2019 State of Sales Enablement report and connect with our team at these upcoming European events.