From Sales-Centric to Customer-Centric: Three Critical Steps

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A few months ago, I wrote a post on what it looks like when a company is sales-centric. I’ve seen this culture many times over the last year or so (and prior, for sure, but examples overwhelmingly landed on my desk this year). If you haven’t read that post, it’s an important precursor to this one.

I was recently asked for some tips on how to get a sales team that is focused on quotas and their quarterly/yearly targets to to take more care and responsibility when it comes to the customer and the customer experience.

I’ll give you three things to consider in order to make this shift happen.

1. It’s the Culture, Stupid

Honestly, having a customer-centric culture (organization-wide, not just on one team or another) will minimize (or eliminate) this, for sure. What does that entail? The best thing I can do is to point you to several posts that I’ve written about customer-centricity and about activating culture change.

Also, shameless plug (well, it is my blog, right?!): my second book is in the publisher’s hands now, and this one is all about building a winning organization through customer-centricity. Look for it on bookshelves in early Q1 2022.

2. It Starts with Leadership

You can’t change the way your sales team prioritizes what they do if leadership doesn’t change the way they talk, act, prioritize, incentivize, and more. Here are some things that leaders must keep in mind.

  • Employees deem important what leaders talk most about. Talk most about customers and their needs and what drives value for them.
  • Involve employees in the conversation about what would drive them to put customers before metrics, to go from sales-centric to customer-centric.
  • Model the behavior you want to see.
  • Recognize those who put customers before the numbers.
  • Reinforce the behaviors.
  • If you’re going to incentivize on numbers, then expect the focus to be on the numbers. If you incentivize based on actions and behaviors around the customer experience, then the focus becomes the customer and the customer experience.

3. Shift the Conversation

As noted in the first bullet point above, employees will deem important what you talk about the most. So it’s time to shift the conversation from metrics and targets to people, to customers.

  • Start internal meetings with customer stories, not with sales updates, status versus quota/target, etc.
  • Talk about value (for the customer) and driving value, not about price – in both internal meetings and conversations with prospects/customers.
  • Talk about pain points and problems customers are trying to solve, not about features and functionality – again, in both internal meetings and conversations with prospects/customers.
  • Listen more than you talk when you’re with customers/prospects. Make it about them.
  • When talking about or demoing your product, tell a story, tell the story of how the product solves problems for customers, how it will impact them, and how it will add/deliver value.

Focus on these three things – none of which is small, but all of which are necessary – and watch a shift happen on your sales team that will delight the board, executives, and most importantly, customers.

Customer experience needs to be a competence, not a function. The end game is to have a customer-centric culture and a set of customer-centric processes, at which point customer-centricity becomes self-sustaining. ~ Harley Manning

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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