6 Steps To Aligning Your Customer Engagement & Sales Efforts


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customer engagement leadership series influitiveThis summer, Influitive brought some of the brightest minds in customer engagement on the road to Atlanta and New York for our B2B Customer Engagement Leadership Series.

Below, we’re sharing key insights from Heather Pepe, Sales Enablement Manager at PGi, Sophie Brown, Customer Marketing Manager at Bomgar, and Angela Higgins, Customer Engagement Manager at Code42, about the best ways to obtain support from your sales team for your customer engagement and advocacy efforts.

There are dozens of vendors aiming to connect with your customers each day. That’s why modern B2B tech buyers tune out all of the marketing emails they’re barraged with in favor of doing their own research. A recent Forrester survey found that 74% of buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase. 

As a result, brands need to build trust early in the buying process by surrounding buyers with social proof for their product in the form of online reviews, customer testimonials, organic forum discussions and more. To do this, marketers must create engaging customer advocacy programs that inspire their top users to advocate for their brand.

However, your customer engagement efforts won’t be fully realized unless your sales team understands how to use the resources and relationships you’ve built to move buyers forward in the decision-making process.

Below are six steps to getting your sales team aligned with your customer engagement efforts.

1. Let it grow organically

customer_engagement_b2b_leadership_sales_1According to Sophie, your sales reps may be skeptical at first, thinking “Here goes marketing with another new gimmick…” She recommends pitching your program wisely.

Today’s buying process is very complex due to a seemingly endless number of prospective vendors and buyer information sources. This means B2B tech buyers place a lot less value on direct contact with sales representatives, says Angela. If you explain to your sales team how engaging your customers and getting them to publicly advocate for your products will help start the buying journey off on the right foot, they’ll be eager to learn more.

Present your ideas to the sales team, but don’t push it down their throats. Show them what’s in it for them, then sit back and let the results do the talking, says Sophie.

2. Share reviews

A Google study found that 60% of tech buyers look for reviews during the buying process. Sophie points out that “if you have 66 product reviews and your closest competitor has only six,” it will make your sales team’s job that much easier. They can leverage those reviews to win prospective customers.

However, don’t let your sales team get upset if one or two of your reviews aren’t stellar. According to Angela, having a few negative reviews is more believable to buyers than perfect ratings. Sometimes reviews that complain about your product are the most valuable because they can inspire change. When you see a review that contains customer criticism, get your support team involved and provide constructive feedback to the product development department. Loop in your sales reps so they understand the story behind the bad review when they speak to prospects.

Don’t hesitate to share any resources obtained from your customer engagement efforts with your sales team, including reviews, testimonials, case studies, etc. This represents “ROI that you simply can’t quantify,” says Heather.

3. Send them referrals

What’s the most important thing to a salesperson? Making a sale, of course! Therefore, anything that you can do to help them to achieve their goals will be greatly appreciated and strongly supported.

If ever you spot an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell among your best customers (ex: they just enjoyed a huge success using your product, gave you a high NPS score, etc.) pass the ball to sales.

Next, focus on building an on-going referral program to drive customer referrals. The sales team will love that they can leverage your happy and successful customers to help influence the buying decision earlier in the process.

4. Prep perfect references

customer_engagement_b2b_leadership_sales_2Sales people are constantly scrambling to find perfect references when they’re about to close a deal. Use your customer engagement program to build a network of possible customer references. Angela points out that some of your customers may not be able to publicly advocate for your brand, so creating a system where they can be recognized for helping your sales team close deals is a great way to build customer advocacy—just keep the rewards professional.

Position your reference calls as a way for your customers to build their network and share their success story and they’ll be glad to participate.

5. Integrate with CRM

Integrate your CRM software, such as Salesforce, with your customer engagement and advocacy platform. This makes it easy to share the data gathered by your customer engagement team with your sales team in a place where they already hang out. The last thing your busy sales reps want to do is learn a new type of software or look at another spreadsheet. Make it as easy as possible for them to get involved by meeting them where they are.

6. Tear down silos and provide regular updates

All too often, organizational silos prevent the flow of information between various departments within a business, even those with closely aligned interests. Silos between sales, marketing, care and customer engagement teams can be detrimental to both the business and the overall customer experience. Make an effort to bridge the gap by sharing information freely between departments.

This may mean having weekly, monthly or quarterly updates. Whatever you do, be sure to keep your sales team apprised of what’s happening within the customer engagement program, says Heather. Share wins, areas for improvement and plans for the future. Continue to let them know how your efforts will make their goals easier to achieve.

Today, every customer is a potential advocate. Every B2B tech buyer has the ability to share their opinions on social media, blogs and review sites. “Customers want to advocate on your behalf,” says Heather. “You just need a give them a platform to do it.”

Organizations that successfully generate customer advocacy and align their sales and customer engagement efforts will enjoy a less convoluted purchasing process and a boost to the bottom line.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alex Shipillo
Alex Shipillo is Senior Marketing Manager at Influitive, the advocate marketing experts. He's held a wide variety of startup marketing roles at Indochino, Pressly, TeamPages, and Penzu. Before that, he spent several years running a national non-profit dedicated to promoting youth entrepreneurship.


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