The secret to being an amazing salesperson is fairly simple: understand what your prospects want and need, and deliver it. The sale doesn’t stop when the order is placed, money collected, and the product or service delivered. In fact, the relationship is only just beginning. The real secret to success in business today is creating a great customer experience every step of the way. How do you make that happen? You do it by aligning your sales and customer service team, fostering great communication and collaboration, and keeping a finger on the pulse of what happens after the sale.
I can hear what your sales team is thinking: “But that’s crazy! I’ve made the sale, delivered on my promise, now I’m on to the next prospect and the next sale.” Well, good for them. But that’s incredibly short sighted.
Create a stellar customer experience by understanding the process
Understanding the process that transpires every step of the way is critical when it comes to creating a stellar customer experience. Consider this: For a salesperson, the action is everything leading up to the sale. The thrill of the hunt, the dance that takes place as they’re trying to make the sale, the negotiation, the arriving at a deal, the signed contract, the exhilaration and marveling at how kickass they are at selling stuff, and the high fiving the rest of the team and the boss as they make another check mark in the “sold” column. That’s the sport that is the art of the sale.
While all that is spectacular and your sales team is, no doubt incredibly awesome, for a customer, the action takes place after the sale. That’s when they take delivery of the product or service that a salesperson has convinced them will change everything about their business, solve their problems, make their business more efficient, more profitable, more awesome—whatever it is they seek.
But it’s important to remember as your sales pro walks away patting him or herself on the back, the customer rolls their sleeves up and dives in. That’s when the real work begins for them. And that, my friend, is when they either fall in love with whatever it is they bought from your sales rep, and by association, fall in love with your company’s product or service as well, or they realise that there was more to this than meets the eye and there’s potentially a lot of work in front of them.
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Understanding this process, and that the experience of a finalised sale is drastically different for the sales team than it is for the customer is how you can create a customer experience that leads to happier relationships with customers, but also closer relationships with them as well.
Disruption is not your friend. Wait, maybe it is
The importance of great customer experience isn’t just my opinion. In a rapidly evolving business world, where even mature businesses are experiencing disruption at every turn, aligning your sales and customer service teams is critical to creating the very best customer experience possible. And that? That’s what keeps you in business—whether you’re on the sales team or on the customer service team.
Approaching customer experience with a view toward disruption, and how you can break apart everything about your existing customer experience and rebuild it, from a customer-facing focus - in short, disrupting yourself and your processes - is how you create amazing experiences. Ready to go? Let’s explore seven ways to disrupt your existing sales and customer service operations and get them aligned.
Seven ways to align your sales team with your customer service team
- Map your customer journey. As mentioned earlier, throwing out everything you think you know about the the customer journey is important. Walk through every single experience that a prospective customer has with your company, seeing it through their eyes, experiencing it the same way they do and map it out. Chances are good you’ll find many things you could, and should be doing differently to make that journey a more enjoyable one for them. And better customer journeys - they lead to more closed sales.
- Make a commitment to get rid of the silos. Your sales team is out there on the front lines, doing “battle” to win business all day, every day. Your customer service team is right there with them, on the same kind of frontline. The only difference is that the sales team is on the front line before the sale, and your customer service team is there after the sale. Both are integral to customer satisfaction and delivering on what it is your company has sold. Connecting these two teams, making collaboration and communication your focus, is a way to enable your sales team to be more effective at their jobs, and it can also serve to help your customer service team be more effective at their jobs.The way you do this? Establish clear roles within each team, make sure each member of the different teams understands their role in the process, and the customer journey as whole. Make communicating easy and seamless and ensure that everyone understands how important they are to the overall success of the company. In the end, it’s happier customers that is the goal, and fewer silos, more internal touchpoints, better lines of communication, and better processes, all lead to better customer experiences.
- Make technology a part of the process. Integrating software into your operations that makes collaboration easy and seamless is one way you can set your sales and customer service teams up for success. Customers shouldn’t have to feel as though every interaction with a customer service team after the sale is like pulling teeth, yet often we have systems in place that make their experience like that. In today’s world, there is absolutely no excuse for not using technology to manage data and streamline and enhance the customer experience process. Even better? There’s a technology solution for every budget. Use it.
- Meet regularly. People don’t learn to work more effectively together by osmosis. It takes practice and a commitment to make it work. If you want stronger bonds and better collaboration between your sales and customer service teams, commit to regular meetings.
- Facilitate training. Just as teams don’t innately learn to work together, when you’re breaking down silos, rebuilding processes, focusing on customer experience and getting rid of the “because we’ve always done it this way” mindset, there is a real need for ongoing training. Commit to doing that, and you’ll build stronger, more collected, more collaborative teams in the process.
- Solicit feedback at every turn. Customers are often a company’s very best resources. They are savvy buyers and are generally not at all reluctant to provide feedback, whether you ask for it or not. Instead of being content for them to them leave random feedback about your product/services and their experience with your company in their LinkedIn groups or on Facebook, why not ask them for their feedback - and then use it to make your processes better? When customers know you are sincere in your desire to know about their customer experience, and welcome your feedback, they feel valued and appreciated. Ask for their feedback, then use it to make everything you do even better.
- Incorporate feedback into your processes and fine-tune. Your customer service team knows what problems customers have. Along with direct customer feedback, incorporating the feedback from the front lines that they are manning daily into the sales process is important. Using that feedback and the expertise of your customer service team to continually fine-tune sales messaging, sales practices, post-sale experiences, and the like will not only lead to a happier customer service team, it’ll no doubt lead to happier customers as well.
Once you start down this path, you’ll begin to see results. It won’t happen overnight, but then it is rare that disruption, and change, happens at the speed of sound. But what will happen is that our sales team will better understand their customer needs and will close deals more quickly. Your customer service team will begin to feel empowered like never before, and a more valued part of the customer experience. And your customers? They’ll reap the benefits of this commitment to alignment and collaboration.
Shelly Kramer is a 20+ year marketing veteran and co-founder of V3*Broadsuite.
About Shelly Kramer
Shelly Kramer is the CEO + Founder of V3 Broadsuite [V3B], and the President of Broadsuite Media Group [BMG]. I'm a Founder + Principal Analyst at Futurum, a research and analysis company, a Partner + Founder of XVA Labs, a digital transformation consultancy, and a Partner + Co-Owner of The Marketing Scope, part of the BMG family of companies.
She has worked with some of the world’s largest brands to lead them into the digital space, embrace disruption and the reality of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of Digital Transformation. Her knowledge of Customer Experience Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), Mobility, Cloud, and Collaboration, and her work with CMOs, CIOs, CXOs, and more, mean that her insights on innovation, disruption, customer experience, and transformation aren’t based on hypothesis—they’re based on real world experience and real world success.
She has been recognized as an influential expert on Digital Transformation (#13/Top 100), the IoT (#66/Top 100), Cloud (#38/Top100), and Big Data (#42/Top 100). She has also been widely recognized for expertise as one of the top influencers in B2B Marketing, as well as a top Social Selling influencer, and her expertise with regard to social media marketing and content marketing has been recognized on numerous occasions.
Forbes has named the V3B blog as one of the Top 20 Best Marketing + Social Media Blogs, PostRank ranked the V3B blog as one of the top blogs about Marketing + Social Media and a Top 100 Most Engaging Social Media Blog. Kramer has been named by Forbes as one of the Top 50 Social Media Influencers and identified as one of the 150 Most Influential Women on Twitter.