As we discussed in part 1 of this series, much of today’s B2B selling cycle happens online without human interaction. When done right, the brand delivers a clearly-defined experience driven in large part by the customer’s previous digital behavior. The customer experience may feel self-driven but is actually tailored based on data insights that the brand has gathered.
But this tailored experience doesn’t always start smoothly or proceed logically. Sometime the brand has not reached that level of marketing sophistication and sometimes the digital relationship is just too new for the brand to have much data to go on. But more often, the brand just doesn’t realize it’s not all about them anymore. It’s about the customer, dummy!
At the beginning of the journey, brands and their potential customers must get to know each other and learn how to design a win-win relationship. If the brand is talking about themselves rather than listening to customer requirements, the relationship is likely going nowhere.
What happens when a customer relationship develops poorly? Let’s take a look:
Company X – let’s call them Acme – has been marketing and selling the same way for a long time, and it’s been working well. They are the 800-pound gorilla in their space. Half of their customers are legacy, and net-new business comes from referrals and brand-building activities like events. Life was good until competitors built disruptive platforms and started delivering highly-touch service. Now Acme’s Sales team are losing deals and they are pressing Marketing for more and better leads. Marketing feels that Sales is too old-school and mishandles the leads. Finger pointing and blame-throwing ensue and customer requirements get lost in the mix.
If Acme’s story sounds familiar, it’s because we all regularly engage with companies that have gotten too comfortable as leaders in their industries. Think Telecom and Transportation. The Baby Bells were dominant until disruptors like mobile networks, Skype, and chat came along. Transportation modes from airlines to taxis had it good until WebEx, Uber and the like. We could list many examples, but the lesson is clear – no industry leader is safe from disruption. This is tough news for brands that have never had to build win-win customer relationships or design customer experiences that anticipate prospects’ next needs.
Even the biggest brands would be well served to take a fresh look around. They’ll find that prospects and customers no longer want to be talked AT – they want to be worked WITH. Consider the downsides when the buying journey doesn’t align with the prospect’s requirements. The prospect may be leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs but still not being seen. Why would they stick around?
Getting customer-focused can be enormously difficult. It means integrating systems, data, and processes in order to enable customer-focused campaigns. Instead of spraying emails, Marketing must learn to nurture prospects with stage-appropriate offers based on their interactions – the right message at the right time in the right format and channel. Sales must learn to pick up the conversation and engage at the right time, tailoring their approach based on activity history. All customer touchpoints become orchestrated. TPG calls this evolution The Revenue Marketing Journey.
Focusing on the customer’s experience versus “the way we’ve always done it” will evolve your customer relationships to a new level. As your company moves from tactical to modern marketing, your customers will experience fewer disjointed communications, more relevant and timely information, and offers that enable their own growth and revenue. They will purchase, buy more, renew, and even advocate… a win-win relationship. If your prospects are saying that “it’s not all about you” anymore, consider adapting to their needs. Evolution is not just an advantage, it’s a requirement.