In the spring of 2016, Alexander Group conducted summits with over 60 senior marketing and sales executives in North America and Europe. The objective of these summits was to explore how sales, marketing and service functions are uniting their previously ‘siloed’ capabilities to deliver greater value and differentiation to their customers. Following is a brief summary of the findings.
Technology and the economy have combined to produce buyers that are more …
- Informed: They understand product options and prices without the help of a seller by leveraging web sites and social media.
- Demanding: Cost pressures drive buyers to demand either a better price or a better solution. Sellers need to bring more to the table than simple “feeds and speeds.”
- Empowered: Buyers use social media to distribute unfiltered observations on their buying experience … either positive or negative.
Hence, the pressure to commoditize products and the selling process is enormous.
In such a world, sellers must earn their way out of price competition by “inspiring their customers” with evidence of how their products help improve business outcomes. To accomplish this, sellers need to do two things:
- Engage customers early in the buying process to better understand and shape the decision-making parameters.
- Remain engaged after the sale to ensure customer success and acquire powerful references and case-based evidence.
But sales cannot do this alone. Enhanced collaboration with partners in marketing and service is essential to generate:
- Value propositions that better align to customer needs, which enable early access to buyers
- Collateral and cases that demonstrate clear value
- Customer care resources that deeply invest in producing customer success
Marketing, sales and service are beginning to team in three important areas:
- Segmentation. Sales and marketing are collaborating to segment buyers according to what drives their decision-making. Most buyers fall into one of three segments:
2. Calibrated customer coverage. Marketing, sales and service executives are calibrating how their respective functions support one another to cover customers and grow revenue in each of these segments.
3. Unified vision and tactics. Three approaches to achieve this stood out:
- Place functions under a single leader. Common leadership at a level below the CEO breaks down silos. There are two examples of how this is happening within the companies that our Summit attendees represent:
-Marketing and sales functions are coming together under a single “chief revenue officer.”
-The role of “chief commercial officer” is emerging to consolidate leadership of the marketing, sales and service functions.
- Integrate at a tactical level. Embed field marketing units side-by-side with sellers to experience customer issues firsthand and to craft promotional programs and value propositions accordingly.
- Hold functions accountable for common metrics. Increasingly, sales leaders hold marketing accountable for the same revenue goal as sales, which drives more joint planning and execution. Conversely, executives feel holding the service organization accountable for revenue could result in loss of customer centricity. To improve the partnership with sales, companies are increasingly holding the service function accountable for metrics such as customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Want to learn more about how companies are building connective tissue between marketing, sales and service … and how they are turbo-charging their revenue growth engine in the process?
Join us at the 2016 Chief Sales Executive Annual Forum in November.