Using Marketing and Sales Alignment to Improve the Customer Experience
How important is the customer experience?
If your answer is anything besides “extremely”, then you may be losing customers even as you read this. Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and their experience with your product, brand, employees and message all build a relationship they can trust and rely on. Or the experience can result in a dismal partnership they can’t wait to ditch at the first chance they get. Your choice.
Companies that focus energy on extending a unique customer support experience to retain and satisfy their client base are off to a good start, but that’s not the only way to promote favorable customer interactions. Sales and marketing alignment can also serve up aces for the customer experience.
Here are six ways that marketing and sales alignment can elevate the customer experience:
1. Empowered communication
“Make the customer the hero of your story.”
– Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, Marketing Profs
What does your product or service do for your customer? A uniform message and consistent branding demonstrate your company’s voice, expressing the benefits the customer can expect to receive from a partnership with your company. A muddied message results when sales doesn’t follow branding guidelines. Unreal expectations are created when marketing isn’t in touch with the sales process. Both set the customer up for disappointment.
In contrast, tightly aligned departments communicate a cohesive message that clearly defines what the customer experience is and isn’t, maximizing the opportunity to meet and exceed expectations.
2. Superior service
The good news is that your biggest competitors probably deal with ridiculously unaligned marketing and sales teams. And this my friend, is an enormous opportunity to rescue their clients from inferior service, and to prevent your current customer base from leaving you for them.
By creating a focused sales and marketing unit, your company offers a unique experience that is most likely unmatched in your industry. The customer can receive proper nurturing (marketing) as well as solution-based meetings, negotiations, and helpful follow up (sales). Each interaction forms a positive, memorable experience for the customer. One that your competition hasn’t created with them, which gives you a distinct edge.
Speaking of positive interactions; sales and marketing alignment…
3. Establish multi-channel touch points
The new marketplace environment demands relevant content that clients can digest on their own on the front end, and continue to educate themselves with long after the sale. Marketing and sales alignment provides a variety of touch points, from prominent search engine placement, to social media engagement, to emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings. All of these touches should line up with the overall focus of expanding and elevating the customer experience.
Without alignment, marketing will struggle to provide qualified leads to sales, and sales will be forced into unproductive situations in an attempt to generate business. Both of these waste customer time and increase frustration, tainting the overall experience.
4. Upsell and referral opportunities
A happy customer is one who will share recommendations and testimonials. After sales delivers a closed deal, it’s up to everyone to forge a strong, helpful relationship. Proper alignment between teams helps the customer feel important and cared for.
In return, that customer is more confident and likely to offer up a referral, assisting your company in expanding its client base and revenue. Besides, a customer who remembers a positive experience is more than happy to do business with you for other products or services in the future.
5. Quick response
Nothing irritates a decision maker more than feeling like they can’t get the answers that they need in a timely manner, or walking away from the experience with a product or service that doesn’t function as promised. As mentioned above, it’s crucial to present an accurate message to your customer, to “sing the same tune”, and to do it quickly. Marketing and sales teams that work together are able to craft strategies that target the prospect, close the sale, and provide the expected results without wasting anyone’s time.
6. A consistent experience that can be replicated
“The best companies win with inbound marketing by deeply engaging and aligning with their sales departments so both parts of the business are more measurable, scalable, and effective.”
– Mark Roberge, CRO, Hubspot
If your company presents an aligned sales and marketing unit and knocks the customer experience out of the park, do you know how you did it? The answer should be “YES!” Otherwise, teams that are not aligned with their initiatives are basically treasure hunters who stumble over bounty by accident, on occasion, with no knowledge of how they found it, or how to find it again.
Outlining a strategy allows both teams the ability to analyze the performance on the back end and see which actions met or exceeded expectations, and which ones failed. Through constant refinement, this plan can be used as a roadmap to ensure successful customer experiences in the future.
Business leaders must give the customer experience the attention and commitment it deserves. Without positive interactions, customers are less likely to remain loyal and more easily enticed by low price bidding wars, and that’s not where you want to compete.
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According to CMO Julie Herendeen, all great marketing starts with an understanding of customers’ problems. We couldn’t agree more.