You can’t ever forget the customer. The customer experience should trump everything, but for some reason it doesn’t, and it’s often the reason that companies fail. Companies get focused on themselves and why and how they are winning and they lose sight of their customer experience.
B2C has an advantage sometimes because they can map the user experience and see the data. That’s not a good enough excuse for B2B leaders to forget about customer experience.
In this episode, Chad Sanderson talks about the importance of the customer experience and why B2B companies need to focus on it to win.
Chad isManaging Partner at Value Prime Solutions and also hosts the B2B Revenue Executive Experience Podcast.
B2C User Experience Trumps B2B
The one unifying factor of B2B and B2C business models is the customer, says Chad Sanderson – it’s people. When salespeople and marketers become too focused on their next quarterly results, on their margins and hitting quota, the user experience is going to suffer.
“I think, in some ways, we’ve kind of created the problem ourselves. In B2C you see all the research that shows if you invest in that “customer experience,” the returns are there. I think it was a Forrester Report I saw that talked about the stock prices of companies like Apple, Dell, and those that invested in really understanding that experience. B2B guys never acquired huge organizational change,” said Chad, on the Playmakers podcast.
“At the end of the day, you have to tweak the organization and get rid of the silos. Sales has done a really good job of keeping themselves siloed over the years from marketing, even internally. Now we’ve got sales development doing this, and account executives doing that. It’s so segmented, when really you need to look at the whole picture,” added Chad.
Collecting Data on the User Experience
When looking at the customer experience, there’s also a matter of how much information you have. Optimizing the B2B customer experience is often not an easy task, as complex disparate systems make it harder to track customer interaction.
“B2C is almost easier in some instances, because I can invest in a digital platform. I can invest in my mobile experience, my web experience. My interaction with my customer is facilitated by that technology. Now, a lot of money goes into designing the information architecture, the UX and the layouts. They analyze all this data, and they can continually revamp themselves. It’s easier in B2C, because the data’s there,” said Chad.
B2B sales and marketing teams need to work on keeping thing authentic for their customers, because authenticity builds trust, he adds.
“The vast majority of people get so caught up in what’s right in front of their eyes, that authenticity is an after-thought. That human connection is what makes B2B sales possible. You have to be able to develop the trust. You have to be able to provide them value,” added Chad Sanderson.
The Patience of a Millennial Customer
If we get lost in complex technology systems, we will lose the millennial customer, showed Chad. Millennials, who are poised to soon become the majority in the workforce, use technology every day in their personal life to make things easier. If a system is not easy to use, it will not be adopted, as the millennial customer is used to be served with speed and efficiency.
“The technology is enhancing your experience every day. (…) Millennials have no clue what a crappy user interface looks like. When it was first going, user interfaces were just slapped on. That was just the way it was.”
While millennials have a lot of expectations from systems, Now there are a lot of expectations, B2B people don’t really have the tech in place, adds Chad.
“B2B sales reps have to be the equivalent of that tech. As they guide their buyer through the process, they have to be that Netflix, Amazon, whatever, as they go through the sales process,” said Chad.
“There’s some amazing tech out there but I think in B2B, especially, if you can set up a tech stack that’s designed to facilitate faster, deeper, human connection, you’re going to make a huge win,” he added.
And The Tech Stack of a Millennial Sales Rep
Millennial sales reps often do not have the sales technology systems that allow them to work efficiently, which wastes valuable company time, added Chad Sanderson. He discussed the topic and added that sales training needs to account for these productivity issues.
“When I teach class and I work with clients, I get these aghast looks when I tell them, ‘Turn off your computer. Turn off your damn computer and engage with the people when you’re on the phone. Focus on making phone calls. If you’re writing emails, only keep that open’,” adds Chad.
There’s no such thing as multi-tasking, adds Chad, who advises sales reps to make sure they are not using multiple screens when working.
“We all know the brain is not wired to multi-task. If you think you’re multi-tasking, you’re just screwing up two things at one. It’s not possible. That focus, I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice with all the disparate tech, because we’re trying to force it to work to our process, however our organization wants us to sell, or how we need to engage. I think there are pieces that help us accelerate, but I think we’ve got a ways to go before we get something that’s completely seamless,” adds Chad Sanderson.
How B2B Customer Experience Can Get Better
We asked Chad how companies can optimize the customer experience in the B2B environment and get closer to the B2C standards, and he advises first to make sure communication is open with customers.
“I always struggle with this, because to me, it’s just common sense. The first step is to ask them. How many B2B organizations are not actually talking to their customers about what it was like to buy from them? They’ll talk about the products, how the service was, did it fulfill the metrics and the ROI. They don’t take the time to literally just stop and ask. What was it like really to buying from us?” added Chad.
Some companies will implement Net Promoter Scores to try and find what user experience is, however this is not enough.
“It’s even more critical today to have a foundation of how people engage and have conversations. A conversation framework that is based around asking intelligent questions to get the buyer’s perspective. If you think about the buyer’s perspective, not just when they’re sitting across the table or on the phone with a sales rep, but from beginning to end. This is where, I think, marketing and sales needs to blend better,” added Chad.
Sales and Marketing Alignment Leads to Better UX
And this is where the alignment between sales and marketing has to come in and bridge the gap, he added. Collecting data on the user experience and improving it at every touch point should be an essential company goal.
“We’ve been hearing that for 20 years: sales and marketing hate each. (…) They need to get together, because marketing has information that sales can leverage. Looking and making sure every step along the way is focused on understanding your buyer’s perspective is the key,” told us Chad Sanderson.
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