In the Harvard Business Review article, “The New Sales Imperative,” the CEB reports that in just the last two years the average number of people involved in a B2B purchasing decision has increased from 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.
This change has made the journey far more complex, creating longer sales cycles and an overall more challenging sales process.
This is the chance for customer experience (CX) to make a measurable difference to your company, by bringing in CX tools such as journey mapping to a very real and very visible business problem.
A perfect opportunity. But one I don’t see many CX operations focused on.
Most CX organisations focus on driving the loyalty of existing customers. Relationship and transactional surveys, call logs, and other traditional CX tools are very helpful for understanding how existing customers view your experience. But they’re worthless in understanding the pre-sales journey.
Pre-sales customers don’t often call the contact centre, and they don’t have a relationship, so they don’t take your surveys.
Customer retention is obviously important, and can keep you so busy that there’s no time for something else. Why should you care about the pre-sales journey? Here are five reasons to rethink where you focus your attention:
- The pre-sales journey sets your customer up for loyalty – or doesn’t. A successful pre-sales experience sets appropriate expectations, and helps prepare the customer for working with your company. Focusing on this journey can also help improve the experience of existing customers.
- Some of your approaches and tools can work here, too. While surveys are less helpful, journey mapping and stakeholder management can help align the organisation to create a consistent, quality experience.
- The journey is inherently measurable. One challenge of many B2B experiences is that it can be difficult to directly measure the impact of experience improvements. B2B relationships often last for years, so the impact of an improve customer experience can be diluted and difficult to measure. Pre-sales journeys are inherently measurable – how many new customers did you land? And how much is their contract worth? Also, sales cycles are typically 6-12 months; while that’s not immediate, it is quicker than most existing customer journeys, allowing for results to be generated more quickly.
- The stakeholder map is simpler. While you do have sales, marketing, and perhaps the digital team, you don’t have operations, IT, or other traditional stakeholders that can make the existing customer journey so difficult to manage. This makes it somewhat simpler to engage the breadth of stakeholders required to drive change. As a result of all this…
- You can create a measurable impact. This is what drives us in CX – knowing we measurably improve the company.
As an added bonus, improving the pre-sales journey gives you more customers to retain.
And what CX leader wouldn’t want that?
This article originally appeared on Jim's blog. Republished with kind permission.
About Jim Tincher
Jim sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers.
With a lifelong passion for customer experience, Jim founded Heart of the Customer to help companies of all sizes increase customer engagement. Before launching the company, Jim led customer engagement initiatives at Best Buy, Gallup and UnitedHealth Group. In the process, he became an expert in using Voice of the Customer research to identify unmet needs, develop new products and improve customer service. His Heart of the Customer Journey Maps™ are a powerful tool designed with one simple goal: customer loyalty. Customers ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies use his processes to improve customer-focused results.
His fascination with customer experience led him to test himself by becoming a Certified Customer Experience Professional, only the second in the world to earn such a designation. He also has served as an adjunct instructor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He is an active member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), serving as one of their CX Experts, providing advice to members worldwide.