Highlights from the 2011 Chief Sales Executive Forum – Part 2
Read Part 1 or Part 3 of this series
Salespeople on the front lines talk to customers every day, but when it comes to “owning” the relationship with customers, they dance a careful tango with Marketing, Product Development, and Customer Service. Leaders from top sales organizations shared their views on the increasing role sales has in building strong relationships with customers across internal departments.
Mandate Executive Sponsorship. Want healthy customer relationships? Give them someone high up in your organization they can call. One company shared that for their most important accounts, Executives from non-sales departments (think R&D, HR, Operations) own C-level relationships. This helped nervous customers feel that they had a seat at the table as they navigated several big changes in executive management.
Hire Business-Savvy Client Managers. Customers are no longer willing to have lengthy conversations about their needs. They expect the sales person to understand their needs and offer them a solution with a business case, ROI, and examples of how it’s worked at other companies. Sales leaders need to invest in strategic thinkers who can lead the customer to the solution and provide input into company strategy based on their experience in the field.
Make a Big Difference through Small Interactions. One company uses real-time communication to send an email to customers post-implementation – click on the smiley face if you’re happy, do nothing if there are no problems, and click on another button to report an issue. The result? Improved customer satisfaction and a better ability to anticipate their customers problems and needs.
Involve Product Development. One way to improve communication between product and sales teams is to move product development into the commercial organization. One company found this created a much better feedback loop between customers, sales, and the development team, although they still haven’t fully “cracked the code” on minimizing one-off requests for additional features.
What is your sales organization doing to listen to your customers? Do you agree that Sales has a bigger stake in “owning” the customer relationship? (Read Part 3 of this series)
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