Sales Series Part 3: Translating Customer-centric Strategies Into Success

May 08, 2018

Man pointing

The ultimate goal of every company is to stay attractive to its customers and maximize their lifetime value, but developments in the digital age make it increasingly difficult to stay on top. Customers’ now enjoy limitless options and transparency, and their demands extend far beyond product and price. One important way companies can differentiate themselves from the competition is to provide a personalized and compelling experience that attracts customers and wins their loyalty. However, while investments are being poured into customer-centric strategies, our project experience shows that many are unsuccessful when it comes to anchoring them in the organization. Read part 3 of our expert blog series #SalesinaDigitalAge.

Why do customer experience strategies flop?
One common issue is that that companies see “experience” as only a customer-facing issue, and forget that it is strongly interlinked with internal operations. They focus their investments on flashy websites and apps for the customers, but ignore major potential for IT improvements behind the scenes.  Another pitfall is that companies work intensively on creating the perfect experience, but forget to tell their customers, or even their own sales teams! The extra value they provide goes unnoticed simply because it wasn’t included in the value proposition.

“Companies work intensively on creating the perfect experience, but forget to tell their customers, or even their own sales teams!”

In addition, a customer-centric strategy can’t be rolled out overnight. It needs to be sustainable for your business – and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. In the race to be first, companies often rush into strategies without taking the time to understand what they are actually aiming to achieve, what the impact will be, and how their efforts will create value. And even when they do manage to realize their strategy, they have no means of quantifying its success.

Advice from our experts
Although most business leaders have customer-experience initiatives on their agenda, most fail in the execution phase. Here are five key points to remember to translate your customer-centric strategies into success.

1. Build solid foundations

Customers expect logic, consistency, and speed in the buying process, and problems in these areas often arise internally.  That’s why it’s important to first pinpoint the gaps in your system and then close them with the help of digital tools. Integrated quotation management software can improve your responsiveness to customers by providing instant quotes based on their profile, automated systems reduce mistakes on order confirmations, and programs that generate discounts in line with your sales strategy ensure that you speak with one voice to your customers. Incorporate new mechanisms into your sales processes that help enhance the experience from the inside out!

2. Link the customer experience to value

You might be striving for an unbeatable customer experience, but it will only mean something if you are able to communicate its value. What really matters to your customers? What needs to be fixed? If your customers strongly rely on a secure supply of your product to keep their business running, build strong partnerships with local distributors and offer a 24-hour availability guarantee. Then build your value proposition around this, equipping your sales team with transparent, detailed arguments and solid evidence to communicate how much these partnerships are worth. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, identify their pain points, then provide your solution.

3. Enhance and tailor the experience

Now you have made the necessary internal improvements and established a link to value, new digital technologies can help you get even closer to your customers and tailor your experience to them. Providing a loyalty app where customers can collect points and redeem them for awards or privileges generates pull, increases retention, and boosts sales, while insights into shopping behavior reveal promotion and cross-selling opportunities. Recommendation engines give shoppers more confidence by suggesting products already purchased and approved by similar customers, and companies can use algorithms to predict what their customers are most likely to buy next based on their past behavior, preferences, and values.

4. Track and strengthen performance

Going digital doesn’t just open up opportunities on the customer-facing side of your business. Best-in-class sales tools can also have a significant impact on salesforce performance. Coupled with a real-time peer comparison, reps who have immediate visibility of how a specific deal will influence their compensation are more likely to hit their sales targets. This is also a good time to introduce new and attractive incentives that discourage target deviation and reward top performance.

5. Re-think customer needs for a “true” relationship

The best customer experiences offer much more than just a product. They provide comprehensive and proven solutions that include ongoing support and service. Some even take over process management for an entire production step on the customer’s side. Charging for technical advice and maintenance, introducing license fees for accompanying software, and providing regular analysis reports as part of a members-only subscription are just a handful of examples how you can generate new revenue streams and move from a product to relationship business. Timing and customer appetite for this kind of ongoing support are important factors that influence how urgently you need to move to a "Relationship = Product + Service" business.

Read more from our expert blog series #SalesinaDigitalAge:

Part 1: Reengineering your sales DNA: It’s about more than building blocks

Part 2: Hybrid sales structures: State-of-the-art tools for a people business

Part 4: Taking the driver´s seat in OEM sales negotiations

Part 5: Selling business services

Part 6: From digital flop to success - Insurance sales of the future