“If you are customer centric then why are you still pitching?” … This question, posed by a CIO at a recent Board meeting. The CIO already bought the product and wanted to discuss change management, instead he was being resold the product he already bought.
This made me wonder if the biggest challenge for marketing and sales teams isn’t the pure marketing and selling, but the transition from prospect to client and building a set of principles to service clients effectively.
Sales people are clear on how to sell. Marketers know how to market. But do we spend enough time helping those individuals to develop tools, techniques and most importantly, metrics to support customer centricity? What are the incentives that equate to the commission check that support the customer?
Building customer centricity is not simple. It requires a plan to realign the organization to the customer point of view. In the case above, the company realized that it was not only incenting its people to only sell, it was organized into P&Ls that did not align to how the customer wanted to engage. The simple answer – reorganize to align with the customer experience. But that simple answer can come at great financial cost. Not so simple.
Here are some ideas to consider:
Research, Prepare, Repeat.
Take the time to do the homework to understand customers and the connection points within your organization; preparing in advance for the conversation. Help your teams to show up with a clear understanding of what the customer is trying to achieve and how they can help… not what they can sell.
Create Environments for Non-selling Discussions.
Provide sales-free environments for marketing and sales teams and business leaders to interact with clients. We find that customer advisory boards—with an issue-based focus —are particularly powerful. If you are not ready for an advisory board, or are looking to broaden the points of connection, consider peer forums, networks, or other engagement platforms using the same principles that make boards so powerful.
Share clients stories internally.
Spread the word about your clients’ stories, and help the sales teams understand how clients view their challenges and how they describe success. Start meetings with client stories and client challenges to encourage a client focused culture.
Developing a customer-centric culture is not as easy as making the statement. It requires a commitment to shifting the focus of the organization and behavior of people.