Hey, I am not making this up, nor did I just search for some esoteric data that supports my argument either. I have believed this for a long time; Marketing and Sales need to work, together, to create buyers, focus on establishing relationships and solve the jobs customers need to do most. In order to do this, a deep understanding of just what your customers needs are is certainly in order. In my inbox this morning was the McKinsey Quarterly (you might need to register to see the whole thing) with data to back up my and their thoughts.
Customers insisted price and product aspects were the dominant factors that influenced their opinion of a supplier’s performance and, as a result, their purchasing decisions. Yet when we examined what actually determined how customers rated a vendor’s overall performance, the most important factors were product or service features and the overall sales experience. The upside of getting these two elements right is significant: a primary supplier seen as having a high-performing sales force can boost its share of a customer’s business by an average of 8 to 15 percentage points.
This conclusion is reached only after they surveyed 1200 purchasing decision makers in businesses of all sizes, across the United States and Western Europe. The focus was technology products and services. The report has some interesting findings, the one that stuck out for me, and I would like to share is the following listed by respondents as “most destructive”
- 35% said that they were contacted by phone, in person or email too often
- 20% failing to have adequate product knowledge of their own or competitors products
You need to understand customers needs, not play by your rules
I have been doing a lot of work recently with clients and collaborators in working to understand the Social Customer. Nay sayers suggest this entity does not exist, or has existed for a long time and nothing is new. Some have suggested that the entity is sort of new, but that it is an evolutionary process, and it takes time. I think it is happening fast, and we need to pay attention! Here is a paragraph, written for a white paper created with Attensity, a few weeks back, a neat company in the social media monitoring space, who can and will do a whole lot more:
The social web, or web 2.0 as it’s also referred to, has caused an historic shift in how customers interact with companies and their brands. How and why customers make decisions to purchase products and services is not as clear as it once was. For example, customer service and experience often trump price and quality; this is the new normal.
Yes, it is the new normal, and customers are smart, time constrained and demanding. They know a whole lot more about you and your products than you might expect, or might even want them to know (remember the need to be open). These findings do not surprise me one bit. Do they surprise you? What is the call to action here? Create Buyers! Work with your sales and marketing team to strike the right balance of outreach and pull. If you want your customers to engage with you more frequently, give them good reasons to do so – write blogs, comment on other blogs – and make those times that you do have the opportunity to speak with them count! Yes, this does include the customer service folks, as I have said before.