And let’s be clear here, by “you” I mean anyone that isn’t focused on being customer-centric. No matter the role, no matter the title, a lack of customer-centricity is the ultimate demise of any business.
Get Them & Keep Them
If you believe that information powers decisions and empowers the buyers who make them, what are you doing about it?
Sadly, most companies aren’t doing much. It’s business as usual. I’m not asking for ground-breaking innovation, but I am advocating for providing customers what they need with the least amount of resistance as possible.
I’ll spare you from the stats around buying journeys becoming more digital and self-paced, but don’t kid yourself about technology being the disruption of all things.
Technology is merely an extension of what our ancestors have done – boldly innovate to make our lives better. In this process, those that adhere to the old norms, the old patterns and the status quo will always be crushed.
Need examples of this?
Think of Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber. These brands connect information, first and foremost, to their customers. Once the buyer is educated and able to make transactions easier, they’ll follow suit.
This image recently went viral on LinkedIn. It's original author, Alberto Brea, recently expanded on his initial claims in a LinkedIn post here.
"If we look at any disrupted industry or business, we will always find an underlying customer-related problem, stated or unstated," Brea says. "Customers are always dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better."
"Many of the 'killed' businesses used to be great companies," he adds. "However, they got lost along the way."
What Can Sales Do?
The sands around sales is shifting. This doesn’t mean that all is lost. What some may call inopportune presents tremendous opportunity for those in sales that are willing to be different.
Aside from having your sales fundamentals game strong, it’s imperative that you also know the ins and outs of being digital. It’s no longer an option, I submit to you.
Every single sales person out there today is a brand and name unto themselves – do you believe this? If this common sense commandment makes sense to you, then investing in your digital knowhow and learning is a must.
What better way to be customer-centric than being well-researched and collaborative?
A 2017 Forrester study states the following:
Buyers prefer to embark on self-guided journeys and they don’t want to be sold to. Empowered buyers prefer to self-educate, gain third-party validation, and rely on peers to learn about new products—and increasingly prefer to use social networks to do so.
Some of you may read this and say “being more digital won’t work in my industry.” Listen, even if what you’re doing is researching your customers better, isn’t that worth it? You need not use social and digital channels as your primary prospecting or nurturing tools, but isn’t the research alone worth the experience to wow them?
If your buyer isn't already on digitial, chances are they will be soon. And when they finally make the transition, you’ll be ready to serve them. A recent study by HBR found the most digital companies see outsized growth in productivity and profit margins.
In sales, we’re bombarded with technology and automation solutions all around us—not just in the tools we use but also with our customers. One could argue that we were forced to shift in this industry because of the customer.
In consequence, the best digital leaders have the right mindset, skillset and technology, use it to interact with their customers and process transactions, and, most importantly, their employees use it to work more efficiently.
Change is scary, but I’d rather be scared and alive than die off from a lack of innovation. Ultimately, the innovation and automation allows us to serve customers better.
This isn’t just your job, it’s the job of some key people in your organization as well. One last point before I end this section; whether they start or not is irrelevant. You should start at your earliest opportunity.
Don’t wait for leaders and other departments to give you a boost. There is a phenomenal feeling in starting now.
What Can Marketing Do?
Simply put, the brands that serve buyers the best have the simplest yet most powerful stories to tell.
Marketing, this is your job.
Help your sales team (your distribution army) tell that story better by first listening to your customer. Customer-centricity and marketing are two sides of the same coin.
If marketing teams don’t listen to the market and provide content and information that resonates with buyers, then what’s the point?
Why produce content for the sake of it? If you’re not going to write about the problems, challenges, questions, irritations and intrigue of your buyers, what’s the point?
The reason why many marketing teams waste up to 65% of their content is threefold: marketing and sales are not aligned, marketing is creating content that is too focused on the bottom of the sales funnel, and the content is inaccessible to sales professionals.
Better and more effective storytelling leads to a culture of customer-centricity because you become the voice of your customers. You express what matters to them and you provide answers that are most pressing to them.
What can sales do to be more customer-centric now?
1) Keep up with relevant buyer news by following a daily social selling routine.
2) Never reach out to a buyer without knowing these key things about them.
3) Avoid these 10 fatal mistakes, such as only sharing content at one stage of the buyer journey.
What can marketing do to be more customer-centric now?
1) Host monthly content meetings with your sales team to get their input (try asking specifically about customer objections they’re hearing in the market).
2) Focus on “why” content that meets buyers at the awareness stage of their journey. Help customers to identify that they have a problem that your content and solutions can solve. Once they understand the problem, they will come to you for the solution.
3) Create a content library that is accessible to sales professionals, is simple to use, and will help them choose the right content for the right buyer—at the right time.
The Bottom Line
The best customers are repeat customers. And also the ones that sing your praises from the rooftops. Being customer centric will help you achieve this.
The revenue team – sales & marketing – has a lot of work to do to bring about this change.
Long live customers (they pay the bills)!