Customer experience makes up for a key part of a brand’s perception and identity. But most companies aren’t really invested in it to meet their customer’s expectations. As per a report, only 36% of consumers feel that their (i.e. brands’) employees understand their needs. This indicates a poor focus on customer needs and solutions from these businesses. Simply put, they aren’t delivering a customer-centric experience to their buyers and customers.
Customer-centricity is often an overlooked part of the brand experience and leaves a lot to be desired in terms of service quality.
Why is being customer-centric so crucial, and how do you go about enforcing a customer-centric approach for your sales teams? Let’s break down and explore these topics throughout the rest of the article.
Why should the sales team be more customer-centric?
Below-average and bad customer service has been observed to drive 70% of customers away as part of a McKinsey survey. The same survey states 85% of customers can increase their business with you based on good service experience.
This demonstrates the value of customer-centricity. If standardized across teams, it can help you increase your customer’s LTV (Lifetime Value) and decrease churn.
Not only does it help you retain your existing customers for longer, but attract new ones too. Customers who are delighted with your sales and customer service experience are quite likely to recommend you in their circles. This lends you both an extended reach and trust, which is key in enabling purchase decisions.
Now that we’ve seen how impactful customer-centricity can be, let’s learn how to make it part of your sales process.
9 Habits To Make Your Sales Team Customer-Centric
1. Research your leads and their business
In B2B sales, knowing your leads’ needs and problems is the first step to addressing and solving them. This is where you research them and their business, their role within the organization, etc. This helps you connect the dots between their problems, your product’s features, and the possible outcomes it can generate for your leads. Engaging with your leads using this approach enables you to cover all ground and help your leads in the best way possible.
You can research your leads online, using advanced search queries on Google using operators. Similarly, you can also search for information on platforms like Linkedin and Crunchbase apart from their social media handles and websites.
2. Monitor your leads’ behavior
One of the biggest drawbacks to sales engagement can be its one-way nature, it may result in choking your sales funnel with sales hold. A lot is dependent on the lead once the first outbound message is sent, i.e. you have to wait for a response from the same channel. Following up can be tricky too since you can’t be sure if your lead genuinely needs reminders.
This can be solved by tracking your lead’s activities and engagement across your communication channels and products. You can track if your lead has recently opened your emails, logged into your product, visit the website, attended your webinar, etc. It’ll help you assist your leads better throughout the sales process and proactively engage with them in instances where they’ve been active.
3. Measure and improve employee productivity
How your team members manage their time can indirectly impact your customer’s buying experience. Lack of productivity, discipline, and time management will jeopardize your team’s ability to devote time to serve leads as per their needs. Suggest the management to enforce employee management practices with customer centricity as the end goal.
One of the best ways to do this is by tracking and measuring employee productivity. This will help you keep up with your team’s activities, and help them out wherever needed. Enabling your team to be more productive helps them free up more time, causing lesser anxiety, and focus more on customer’s problems rather than theirs. You can also keep track of employee engagement metrics, that help you measure improvements in team retention and growth.
4. Empathize with your leads
When your leads reach out to you, they’re expecting you to solve their problems using your product, rather than know your product’s features. Too many salespeople focus on the latter and fundamentally fail to address their lead’s problems.
In continuation from the lead research topic, it’s important to know what’s beyond the specifics around your lead. A lot of times, you’ll have to indirectly figure out your lead’s needs, and reasons as to why they might invest in you and your products. One of the best ways to do this is by stepping into their shoes. Look if your lead has interests beyond the organizational ones, and why they might find your solution ideal, beyond just the features and specifications.
For example, if you are cold calling, mindlessly reading a script is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Combined with research on the lead, pitch them the benefits that they’re in a unique position to utilize using your product. Empathize with them, ask yourself the question “What would I like to hear if I were on the other end of the call?”. This will help you understand your lead’s problems better and enable them to make a purchase decision.
5. Price for value and not revenue
Pricing can be tricky, especially if you’re selling services. A lot of big-ticket deals and enterprise contracts can drop off due to unmet pricing expectations. In smaller firms with sizeable operational overheads, such drop-offs are accounted for. But if your business operates on lower overheads and healthy margins, offering your leads favorable pricing terms will pay off in the long term.
Most of the time leads don’t see the value for your product or service in their business or industry, hence a value-derived pricing approach enables you to convert such leads. While your revenue goals might take a slight hit, such deals will help you build a larger base of customers and keep a check on churn, which also directly impacts your bottom line.
6. Prioritize quality over margins
In B2B sales where acquisition costs are already higher, not being able to delight your leads comes with a cost of a higher probability of churning. While healthy margins are essential for sustainable operations — they shouldn’t be prioritized over customer experience when it comes to saving costs.
Product and service quality are what make your customers pay. Taking that away for the sake of profitability is only going to hurt it in the long run. The essential cost-saving measures often translate into a bad user experience and don’t go unnoticed. It goes against and defeats the principle of customer-centricity.
If a lead/deal will end up costing you instead of breaking even — it’s better to let go of it, to make sure you can sustain yourself while delivering quality service. Best sales teams close deals where everyone wins in equal measure, helping build lasting and fruitful relationships.
7. Map out a customer journey
A customer journey map is the one where you have your customer’s interactions with your product laid out step-by-step to represent their journey. It enables you to view and control your customer’s experience within the product. It also helps you identify various customer segments based on differences in journeys between customers, and later personalize their experience.
For instance, if you helped people who were focused on selling products on Etsy, you’d want to understand how they source their materials, where and how they list their products, and how they fulfill the orders. After examining this, you’d be able to diagnose where there are inefficiencies and tailor your product specifically to the issues that they have.
Creating personalized customer experiences is key in helping your customers make the most of your product, which will result in a better overall experience. You can also benchmark engagements and conversions at each touchpoint, and keep optimizing for improvements. Customer journey maps also help you trace back to customer problems and bring quick resolutions. They meaningfully impact your customer experience, and consequently, the bottom line.
8. Build a culture around customer problems
As your customers start growing in numbers — it will painfully take up more overheads and man-hours to keep up with their needs. Customer service and success can’t be skimped on, and are often the basis on which product quality is judged. Making customer problems part of your team’s culture and goals will help alleviate this. When team members are individually invested in customer’s problems, they are likely to be more creative with the solutions.
Focusing on customer problems helps you build a value-driven product, and focus on the right features and customer segments. Building the right features – ones that might not be directly communicated through the customers can only be focused on if teams operate to solve customer problems. Similar to how companies stepped up to provide QR code menu setup for restaurants that were no longer risking handing out Menu cards during the pandemic.
Helping solve such problems results in customer satisfaction and loyalty. The team members who are culturally inclined to work on customer’s problems are likely to stay longer and contribute towards the bigger purpose.
9. Listen, accept and improve on feedback
As we discussed over the last few points — focusing on customer problems helps you build context on your customers and make a better product. Part of that entails talking to customers and asking for their feedback. A lot of companies decide to ignore and not take upon responding and taking action on customer feedback. While this might not always result in lost customers, it’s a lost opportunity to make your product generate more value for your customers.
Acting on customer feedback also helps you build a trusting relationship with your customers, who can stay invested with you knowing that they can count on you. Even when faced with feedback that’s not actionable immediately, acknowledge their needs, and keep them in the loop regarding new updates.
Delight, listen, and do right by your customers
Not looking after your customer’s interests is the easier thing to do, but not the smartest. Companies that realize that their customer’s ability to create value using their product directly ties to their bottom line do it differently. Some of the biggest and most successful companies thrive on their reputation around their customer-centricity, and it has served them well.
Your customers are your only revenue source — doing right by them will compound in impact and value for your company and its product, over time.