Everyone talks about the importance of client engagement and programs abound throughout most organizations to manage and drive that. But many marketers and sales people continue to complain about the lack of engagement, and clients bemoan the challenge of connecting with vendors in a value added way.
So where is the disconnect? After working with a group of sales and marketing leaders last week, it occurred to me that the internal definition of what it means to engage successfully with clients differs depending on where you sit in the organization, and the clients’ definition is different yet again. And this lack of alignment – if not taken into account as you plan your engagement programs – eventually gets everyone to a point of mutual disappointment.
Take what we heard last week. Sales leaders defined successful outcomes from engaging with clients in concrete, bottom line terms: qualified leads, proposals, closed sales, referrals. Marketing leaders talked about outcomes that focus on growing and evolving relationships: meaningful conversation, peer exchange, progression through the journey to buy, increased loyalty and satisfaction. After some consideration, the two groups came to agreement on what clients seek in their engagement with them, such as: peer networking, valuable insights, access to experts, actionable solutions to business problems.
It’s clear that these indicators of successful engagement are not the same. But it is also clear that they are all inter-connected and in concert will grow value for both you and your clients. And while everyone in your organization who engages with a client will by nature have differing goals depending on how their role is measured, the secret to better client engagement is in finding and defining the connective tissue and aligning programs to build upon the shared agenda.
Here are a few things to consider to get to better client engagement:
- Reshape your definition of client engagement to include internal and external perspectives and use that as an umbrella to map and plan your programs and activities
- Clearly establish objectives for each program and activity and map them under your umbrella to make sure you are driving towards a balance across the perspectives
- Ask your clients what they think about your definition and get them to share in refining outcomes and targeting effective activities, programs and tactics to get there
- Recognize that one size does not fit all and not every activity or program will or should get to the same outcomes – it is success across the spectrum that will ultimately derive the most value
How do you define client engagement in your organization? Could you do with some alignment?