Marketing + Sales: The customer experience journey

Rising customer expectations calls for rising expectations about how marketing and sales work together.
 
The changing CMO-head of sales relationship

The changes we’re seeing are driven by the customer experience. Customers’ expectations have fundamentally changed. They want you to know who they are, what they’ve bought, and what they like. So if you cold call them and don’t have any information about their company and their industry, if you don’t know what they’ve purchased, what they called for service help on, they’re going to hang up on you.

Because customer expectations have changed so much, it’s even more important for sales and marketing to work closer together. Gone are the days when marketing would throw the leads over the wall and say, “Okay, marketing qualified lead. It’s all you, sales.” Now we have to look at the customer journey holistically.

Every single company is trying to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with its customers. What has changed is how we’re doing that. You need to have that single view of the customer that different organizations across the company can share, so that when you’re interacting with that customer, whether it’s online, on the phone, or face-to-face, you know who they are and what they like. You need to think about the personal journeys that you can provide for that customer. If they’ve already purchased one item, what else might they like? What else might they need? In what areas can you add more value?

Transparency and innovation: The foundation for marketing & sales collaboration

In the partnership between marketing and sales, making sure that you have both transparency and visibility for what each is doing is absolutely vital. For example, before, the sales team did not have a ton of visibility into pipeline, campaigns, and budgets. There was always a sense of “What’s marketing up to? Where are they making their investments?” Our philosophy is to be completely transparent, and to show the investments we’re making by segment, by geography, by region, by cloud, by campaign. We’re being completely transparent, both with the investments and the results.

Here’s a great example of an innovative way marketing and sales are working together: Stanley Black & Decker is traditionally a tool company. You’d think, “How can a tool company provide more value to customers?” Well, they’re creating an SOS button right in the wrench. Or if you forget to lock your toolbox, it alerts you via an app. So what used to be a one-time experience when you sold a product becomes a continuing engagement with the customer through their use of that product.

We’re constantly thinking about that customer journey, and a customer doesn’t care whether you work in sales or marketing or service. They just want a common experience with you.

Making sales your customer

I’ve always viewed sales as my customer. So I want to make sure that, from a marketing perspective, we are helping our sales team make their numbers. The ability we now have to track and measure and see the impact we’re having didn’t exist five years ago.

You can, with fine precision, understand if I make bets here, how that impacts here. I think that relationship between sales and marketing is only getting stronger and tighter, and it’s necessitated by having a common experience for the customer. Customers don’t care if you are in sales or marketing or service. They want one touchpoint with you as a company, as a brand.

I talk with my sales team at least once a day, whether by phone, email, or on chatter. We have constant communication, which has helped build a strong relationship between marketing and sales. I encourage all marketers and all CMOs to really think about building bridges with the sales team and viewing your sales team as your customer, so that you can make them successful. Because when you make each other successful, it’s just incredible.

Working with sales to manage the pipeline

We’re constantly looking at the overall sales pipeline and asking, “Are we getting the right types of leads coming in? Are those leads converting into opportunities, and what opportunities are closing?” When you think about marketing’s engagement across the pipeline, it’s not just around the awareness piece. Anytime you have a complex sales cycle with multiple buyers, you’ve got to look at pipe maturation and what marketing can do across those multiple touchpoints.

The relationship with the customer doesn’t end at closing the sale. It’s also about how you serve that customer. When you’re in a business like salesforce.com, which is a subscription-based model, our success is completely predicated on our customer success. Once they buy, we want to make sure our customers are incredibly successful with salesforce.com. It’s a journey that we go through with sales, with marketing, and with the service teams.

The customer relationship is based on delivering value

We believe in permission marketing and that the reason you download apps on your phone is because you’re getting real value from those apps. You’re opting in. You’re giving permission to that company and saying, “Hey, I have a Fitbit. I want you to track how many steps I take. I want you to notify me when I’ve hit 10,000.”

Customers, prospects, and consumers are opting into these apps and these experiences because of the value. You’ve got to be providing real value to them or they won’t be using the app, and they won’t be using your service.

Creating customers for life

Every business is fundamentally thinking about how to create deeper, more meaningful relationships with their customers. We ask, “How do we create brand loyalists?” or “How do we provide more value to our customers so that they continue to want more and buy more?”

Service teams used to be measured on how fast they could get a customer off the phone. That model has completely changed. A customer calling in to your service desk is an amazing opportunity to engage with your customer, to find out what they like, what they don’t like, how you can better serve them, and how you can think about that whole customer journey. It’s really thinking about customers for life and thinking through how you continually add value to that customer across every single touchpoint, across every single organization, across your entire company.

It’s about insights, not data

Every company is transforming itself into a software company. Because if they haven’t already, they won’t be able to really know and understand their customer at every single touchpoint, whether that’s in the store, online socially, or through the web. You need to take all that data and take meaningful action on that data.

With big data, now I can know so much more about my prospects and about my customers. I can get a much better view of their interests. With all that data I can also create more automated, personalized journeys. The challenge is that it’s really not about the data; it’s about the insights that you can derive from that data.

Everything is getting connected through your mobile phone, so this is becoming the dashboard to your life. But what’s important is that behind all these devices, behind all these products, behind all this data, is the most important thing of all, and that’s a customer.

The CMO as an agent of change

If you’re not currently transforming your business, you will be obsolete. And every single CEO, every single company right now is in a state of transformation and is trying to connect with their customers and deepen those relationships. As a CMO, if you’re not an agent of change, if you’re not constantly innovating, if you’re not constantly changing, if you’re not constantly pushing the boundaries, then you’re going to be working at a company that will be obsolete in five to ten years.

We have a philosophy at salesforce.com of better, better, better. Never best. And so everyone in the company is constantly pushing and innovating.

Author:

McKinsey & Company

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