Here are findings from our 2021 virtual Executive Forum. Our theme was the 24/7 customer experience. We explored the impact of digitally enabled customers on the revenue function and the extent to which the COVID 19 pandemic accelerated the shift toward virtual technology. Our objective was to highlight what’s been learned, what has changed, and begin to assess what it all means for the revenue function: marketing, sales, service and operations.
Two key issues were noted.
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Hello. Gary Tubridy here Senior Vice President of the Alexander Group, with topline findings from our 2021 virtual executive forum. In November last year, the executive forum attracted over 300 premiere companies. Our theme was the 24/7 customer experience the next chapter. We explore the impact of digitally enabled customers on the revenue function and the extent to which the COVID 19 pandemic accelerated the shift toward virtual technology. Our objective was to highlight what’s been learned, what has changed, and begin to assess what it all means for the revenue function, marketing, sales, service and operations. Today, we’ll relate insights ranging from where companies are investing limited dollars, how they’re harnessing the power of digital technology, and what they’re doing to build cultures that prize both customers and employees.
The 2021 conference had a great cast of speakers to explore all of this. With top revenue executives from top companies across tech, healthcare, business services, life sciences, media and manufacturing. We gathered insights that matter on how to grow revenue and manage the revenue function in a rapidly transforming business environment, where power has shifted from suppliers to customers who demand more value and flexibility and are positioned to get what they ask for.
First, a refresher on what it means to be a 24/7 customer. Tiffani Bova of Salesforce summed it up nicely. The 24/7 buyer is digital first. Via social media, they know all about your products and the competitive options. They know what customers are saying about you and the competition, and they expect access to you when it’s convenient for them, either digitally or increasingly on site. And in either case, they expect a high touch experience meeting the need of a thorough examination of what vendors have to offer and an understanding of how your solutions can address their business issues. Despite this, speakers and panelists noted that revenue resources are frequently deployed in ways that do not support this kind of high value, high touch buying experience.
Two key issues were noted. Issue number one revenue resources are often misaligned. The Customer Success Panel discussed recent Alexander Group research on this very topic that explores how resources are allocated across the 24/7 customer experience. Of course, this includes how companies are resourcing the sales motion. More, it includes how resources are deployed to assist customers before the sale to help them learn about products and services and solutions on offer. And, it explores how resources are deployed to manage the experience after the sale to fix issues, to train in the use of products and services, to speed adoption and ensure that promised results are actually delivered.
According to this research, while many companies talk a good game, 75% of the resource deployed continues to be devoted to persuading the customer to make decisions, primarily through selling products and product specialist resources. Little is devoted to gaining access to the customer before the sale. Kind of dangerous when it’s understood that 75% of the buying decision is made by the 24/7 customer before they get into the persuasion phase. Similarly, little resource is devoted to serving customer needs after the sale when results are what matter most. In an era when many customers subscribe to highly profitable post-sale services and can help or hurt brand reputations through reviews on social media, it’s clear that such allocation is insufficient and potentially dangerous.
Thus, emerging best practice companies are devoting significantly more marketing effort to reach customers and shape opinion before the sale, with tactical marketing resources like social media and chat managers and specialists. And, they’re upping their game after the sale to help customers adopt solutions faster and achieve success more dependably. Thus, service motions are transforming into success engines with more resources and more attention to customer needs post-sale.
The second issue is that the three main customer facing revenue functions, marketing, sales and service, act like runners in a relay race who, after passing the baton, disconnect from the process and assume the next runner has responsibility to move forward. They operate in disconnected silos where, first, resources operate independently, when they should be acting as teams. Second, metrics and goals are rarely shared across the functions. And third, the customer experience in each function is managed independently and the results are logged separately in separate databases. All this when we know that the customer expects an outstanding integrated experience. In 2022, we’ll explore what makes such enduring leaders tick. Join us in the Leadership Series to learn more about the management principles that these companies follow. There will be three major events Women Revenue Leaders Forum April 18th and 19th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, the Operations Forum on August 15th and 16th, also at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, and the Executive Forum November 16, 17 and 18 at the Waldorf-Astoria Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. I look forward to seeing you there.