All for one, and one for all
Earlier this year in my blog post, Client Engagement and the Marketing Super Hero, I wrote about marketing and the overall role we play - and can play - in helping sales meet strategic revenue goals. How interesting it is that, in less than a year, the topic of customer engagement and the role marketing plays in the overall customer lifecycle has shifted and is starting to take center stage. Separating and differentiating the “buyers journey” from the “customer journey”, and focusing marketing dollars and resources on the cost to serve and not constantly driving to fill the funnel, will add significant value across the organization.
While there are companies in the B2B space who have taken a holistic approach to customer engagement and have an incredibly mature marketing engine behind it, for the most part, many business are in the very early stages of building dedicated customer marketing teams and advocacy programs. As noted in the DMN Podcast – Spotlight on SiriusDecisions: Customer Engagement with Lisa Nakano, senior director, customer engagement strategies with SiriusDecision, “...customer engagement is not yet a mature a concept as marketing operations”. Furthermore, connecting the customer experience, customer marketing and customer success functions are critical to the success of the B2B post-sales lifecycle, and many organizations still have these functions living separately within sales and marketing.
As our experiences and expectations from the B2C world start to bleed into our expectations and impact our interactions in the B2B world, buyer perception becomes even harder, yet that much more important to measure. As our founder Tom Cates says, we’re all delivering a great product and service, so how do we set ourselves apart? How do we differentiate ourselves from our competitors when price is no longer a factor?
There are various schools of thought in terms of how to measure customer engagement, how often, and what to look for when evaluating customer perception. The golden ticket, in our world, is having a Trusted Advisor relationship with your customers. Their perception of you and the value you bring to their business, goes above and beyond the product(s) and/or service(s) sold. Being a Trusted Advisor means your customers want to do business with you and more importantly, prefer to do business with you. In fact, our research has shown they’ll actually pay more too!
being a TRUSTED ADVISOR
Every industry has their scale with which they measure excellence. Within hospitals and health systems there is what's known as "Magnet" status and believe me, if you're in the hospital and it's designated as a Magnet facility, you know it. Similarly, being a Trusted Advisor requires mastering 6 dimensions. The first two: Integrity and Competency are the basics. When it comes to doing your job, it’s your responsibility to demonstrate integrity. There is no one way to show integrity. Rather, it comes from being transparent and following through on commitments to your clients. Competency on the other hand is the ying to Integrity’s yang - showing a sound ability to deliver on the product and/or service you're selling. You get no extra points, no annual merit increase, or bonus for this. For example, what do we say when an umpire makes a good call? Nothing. It's what's known as doing your job. Having said that, once your account contacts know you can do your job, then you can start learning how they do theirs.
Motivators are aspects about you, your product and/or service that increase a buyers willingness to want to continue doing business with you. There are four: Recognition, Proactivity, Savvy, Chemistry. The buyer will perceive you, and the product you represent, as noticeably better than your competition. If you want to break out of the pack you must be become a master of these Motivators; continually measure and improve in order to better understand the mind of your buyer. It’s never a single act, but multiple touch points along the customer journey that impact their overall perception of you. As the role of customer engagement continues to evolve and become more front and center in the sustainability of your business, (remember, it’s more cost effective to service who you already have, then to continually onboard new customers) marketing, and specifically customer marketing, will continue to evolve. Just like the days of "spray and pray" to fill the top of the funnel are a thing of the past (although you wouldn’t know it from looking at my inbox), measuring and strategically engaging customers should be done throughout the lifecycle and not just when it’s time for renewal or as a follow-up to a service ticket. Taking a proactive approach to continually engaging customers will ultimately impact their business for the better and yours!
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