Everyone is talking about CX. You can read any number of reports on what is top of mind for the c-suite and CX will often be top of the list. Your agencies are pressing you to focus on it, become more humanly relevant and “be more like Amazon.” But what gets in the way of great CX? Antiquated operational structures and siloed teams, KPI’s and systems. We believe that revenue enablement strategies will help with this required transformation.
I have personally spent my career in multiple roles both as a client (finance, IT, procurement, marketing) and as a consultant (marketing, sales, customer success) and in the last 20 years, I have worked with numerous clients on helping them implement strategies and tactics to create better marketing (customer) experiences and drive growth for them and my own companies.
The common theme that I have seen in all these businesses, aside from the fact that businesses inherently become more siloed as they get larger (go figure), is that KPI’s and operating structures cannot help but get in the way of seamless customer experiences. I have also noted that every person I have spoken to about breaking down silos has agreed it is the right thing to do. I cannot recall a discussion where this was disputed or stated as a bad idea. The challenge I do get is one of:
- I am not responsible for the end-to-end. I can only solve what is in my purview.
- That is above my pay grade.
- We would have to get too many people to agree.
- I agree but right now we need to focus on (insert immediate problem.)
The sense that this challenge is just too hard comes streaming through in these statements, and yes, change is hard, but when it is essential, surely it is worth taking time to find a way to solve it.
B2B customers are increasingly demanding, more digitally savvy, and expect less friction in their engagement.
Now insert disruptive brand story, like Uber or Amazon…. Although a little cheesy and overused, this is a reality.
I spent the last few years talking to my customers about how they need to improve this experience through marketing, that 60%+ of the customers’ buying journey happens digitally and before the customer engages with a sales rep. I have also told my customers and prospects how first-party data was essential, especially with diminishing trust in the third party data segment and the death of the cookie. This I believe to be true, but, in reality, most of this dialog was centered around attracting new accounts and new contacts to engage with was less about retaining and growing current customers. We understand from years of data that it is 5x more costly to find a new customer than it is to retain (and grow) a current one. The dialog was (at best) around how we better align marketing and sales teams, which all too often became a discussion on MQL’s and SAL’s and why an ABM program is not about that but engagement (a whole other topic). The data we talked about were site behavior, media interactions, “intent scores,” marketing automation and CRM.
While consulting customers on these topics, I was also leading large accounts of my own, had growth targets, led sales and customer success teams. This allowed me to look at CX and how all revenue teams can work together more seamlessly.
I have had to challenge my thinking on where valuable first-party data resides, where we can truly drive competitive advantage from mining our interactions with clients and augmenting that with external data (such as intent).
I concluded that relying more on first-party data is right but that we are looking in the wrong places for it. That we are not leveraging our daily interactions with clients enough.
The B2B engagement spectrum:
I know there are exceptions to this rule but generally B2B companies have more direct engagement with their customers post purchase. As we move from left to right, our engagement with customers increases exponentially, engagement that was traditionally happening via email, phone calls, in-person meetings, and ticketing systems is now expanding into Slack Channels, Teams call, and other platforms that we can more effectively track that engagement. Look at acquisitions such as Zendesk’s acquisition of Momentive (SurveyMonkey) or Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack.
My hypothesis (based on experience) is that in B2B organisations, there is far more data on our customers, their behaviors, their preferences, and their sentiment from engagement with our customer servicing/success teams and that this outweighs what we can glean from marketing, or even sales engagement. This has been an argument made by the MDM (master data management)teams for years. The reality however is that this information was “lost” in traditional systems (MS Outlook), where it is more available in the new (Teams/Slack). Additionally, our ability to assess unstructured data, through the likes of NLP (natural language processing) allows us to make better use of this data.
I am suggesting that the amount of engagement and therefore data, increases as they become a customer. I am also suggesting that ownership gradually shifts from media/marketing teams to customer success teams and that the corresponding data becomes richer. Allowing us to shift from static (firmographic/demographic) to behavioral (what they are responding to) to sentiment (how they feel about us/engagement) – this is where competitive advantage on first-party data comes to the fore.
Now, there will be some individuals concerned by the level of data tracking being suggested here and I agree. My perspective is that we should not be looking at individual emails, phone calls, etc. We should, however, anonymise and group communications across an account and look for potential trends or early warning signs – adjusting engagement across teams in real-time and triggering/informing strategies such as ABM.
So, what can we do:
- Most organisations need to modernize their business and revenue operations by looking at the teams who are the primary owners of client engagement, beyond sales and marketing, and understand the systems, feedback loops, and value streams that drive growth.
- Some organisations have already rolled sales and marketing under the CRO function, considering how growth on current accounts are achieved and how this function aligns with the CRO.
- Consider more closely aligning the marketing operations and sales operations teams and creating a revenue operations function, bringing customer success into this discussion.
- KPI’s drive incentives which drives behavior – look for ways to more closely align these to the desired end-to-end revenue customer experience.
- Where can we broaden the use of good practices? for example, ABM programs coordinated with customer success teams – leveraging MAP’s to provide thought leadership or innovation vs. Outlook.
- How can we leverage engagement data from different groups to better inform – for example, leverage account sentiment data captured from customer success teams to inform your ABM program.
- In B2B there is more engagement data available for customers and it is woefully underutilised by most enterprise marketing and sales teams.
- New engagement tools and practices will enable us to leverage these interactions and learn more about our customer sentiment.
- We need to ensure cross/upsell gets as much support as acquisition from marketing capabilities/technology.
- We have better technology, data, and processing capabilities and can better leverage first party engagement and sentiment data.
- Third party data is still important to augment customer data.
- Marketing’s breadth of data from what is happening outside our firewall is important to augment the depth of data we can get from Customer Success teams 1 + 1 = 3.
- We must be intentional – we need to consider revenue enablement as a function, under the CRO, supported by revenue operations and aligned to CX.