Aligning sales and the customer experience benefits more than your bottom line — it helps grow your customer base, too. As a sales leader, paying close attention to the experience your company delivers to each and every customer is important because doing so is absolutely essential for sales success in the modern sales landscape. As Brett Relander of Entrepreneur points out, “it is more important than ever for retailers to focus on developing customer experiences that enable them to grow and retain their customer base.” The customer holds the power in their hands — and the customer experience you deliver goes a long way in determining whether that customer will return to your company in the future for more services or will refer peers.
One of the keys to building a loyal customer base and boosting your customer experience is by delivering a personal experience. You need to offer a great customer experience your clients remember positively, which will keep them returning to your business time and time again. Relander of Entrepreneur writes: “It is this personalized treatment that adds true value to a purchase, and injects tremendous loyalty into your customer base.” Strive to make each and every interaction with your customers personal by paying close attention to their needs and pain points, as well as how the solutions they currently have in place are working for them.
Empathy for your customers isn’t something that can be faked — make sure your sales and support teams are equipped to deeply understand your clients’ needs so they can truly be empathetic. Colleen Francis of SalesHQ provides the following tips to help cultivate empathy: “Ask questions, take notes and lean in to show that you’re engaged in their answers.” When your reps take a real concern in your customers and what is important to them, your customers will appreciate that you see them as unique and valuable, creating a more personal experience. And, they will be more likely to do business with you again in the future.
Making a conscious effort on a daily basis to share information that pertains to specific customers and their relationship to your company across departments is essential in the modern sales landscape. One quick way to turn a prospect off of your company is by giving them a disjointed customer experience in which they feel their time is not valued and information they’ve provided to a member of your support team has not been relayed to your sales team. Alex Shipillio of Influitive suggests holding weekly, monthly or quarterly updates between your sales, marketing, support and customer engagement teams to make sure everyone is on the same page. In these meetings, “share wins, areas for improvement and plans for the future” across the departments.
Make sure your sales reps are focused on the customer’s journey — not on making the sales process all about your company. Instead, they must first listen to customers’ needs to understand how your solutions can best serve them. What’s more, your sales team should be prepared to “give a little” before they see a real ROI of time and resources. Francis of SalesHQ suggests giving things that increase the value of your business relationship with that client, such as “a referral to a partner of yours, a solution to a business problem that you read about or heard from someone else, or even help finding a new dentist!” Taking the time to listen to the customer’s needs and being willing to offer something before your company ever gets anything in return will go a long way in providing a great customer experience.
Don’t assume you know everything there is to know about your customer (because you don’t) and don’t assume that your company’s solution is going to be the best fit for every client (because it isn’t). Francis of SalesHQ suggests opening with customers in the following vein: “I don’t know if there’s a fit between what you need and what I have right now, but I’m hoping we can explore that in more detail during this meeting.” Cut to the chase and ask meaningful questions, listen to the responses and see how your company and prospects can partner in key ways.
Yet another reason your sales team needs to be in sync with your customers is so they understand where each customer is in the decision and purchasing journey. As Francis of SalesHQ points out, no one proposes on the first date — so don’t expect to land a big deal in a first or even third encounter. Instead, take the relationship one step at a time to gauge where the customer is on their journey with you. Don’t risk leaving prospects with a bad taste in their mouth about your company by rushing them to decision. Francis warns: “When the sales person is trying to close while the prospect is still evaluating options or determining risk, trust is broken, the prospect feels pushed and the sale comes dangerously close to disappearing.”
Once you’ve made improvements to your customer experience, it’s important that you track how your teams are doing so you know what’s effective and what’s not. Solicit meaningful feedback from your customers to understand what your reps are doing best and the areas that need attention. Go one step further and ask for feedback from prospects who have chosen to go with a competitor. Finding out why they didn’t choose your company is invaluable information in the continual quest to improve your customer service and product offerings.
You may need to consider offering an incentive for customers to complete the survey — and that’s OK. Time is valuable, but so is the feedback customers and prospects provide. You should consider any money spent on an incentive — whether it’s an iPad drawing or a $100 Amazon gift card — as an investment in the improvement of your customer experience.
Aligning sales with the customer experience is key to driving sales and winning new business in today’s sales climate.
Today more than ever, customers expect and value a consistent experience, whether they’re working with your reps in person, over the phone, via email or video chat or browsing your website and blog. Use the tips above to make sure all departments of your company — from sales and support to product development — are committed to helping your customers through each step of their journey.
RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.