In the 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study, Miller Heiman Group, now part of Korn Ferry, found that sales organizations’ customer retention dropped by 3%. Meanwhile, the percentage of organizations reporting deep customer relationships declined by 4%.
Those numbers may appear small, but they’re packed with meaning. What can we learn from these losses? That many companies fail to invest heavily enough in customer experience to maintain or grow existing customer relationships.
Yet this gap gives sales leaders an opportunity to think about how sales can take a step back to consider the entire customer lifecycle. By including customer experience strategy as part of their vision, they can partner effectively with service leaders to improve customer satisfaction, thus driving revenue in the long-term.
Why Sales and Service Alignment Matters
Nearly half of organizations report a weak relationship between their sales and customer experience teams. Even worse, one-third believe that customer experience plays no role in generating sales. When sales discounts the impact of service they lose the chance to deepen critical customer relationships.
Buyers expect companies to deliver value in each interaction, no matter the stage of their path, from consideration and purchase through implementation and use. Positive customer experiences through the lifetime of a relationship create loyalty for sales organizations, transforming them from a replaceable vendor to a valued contributor and, at best, a strategic partner. Service plays a major role in this continuum, as customer experience teams have 10 times more contact with existing customers than salespeople.
With more than 70% of sales revenues generated by existing customers, sales leaders benefit from thinking beyond the first signature to understanding how customer experience strategy assists in upselling, cross-selling and building stronger customer relationships.
The Impact of a Bad Customer Experience
B2B buyers have increasingly high expectations: they want a positive experience every time they interact with any touchpoint from a company. Buyers carry their B2C experiences—including personalization, transparency and immediate fulfillment of their needs—to the office, where B2B sales organizations have yet to catch up. When a company fails to meet those expectations, it has devastating consequences, especially in this digital age.
In an online survey of 5,500 buyers globally, Miller Heiman Group found that nearly 40% of all respondents posted negative online reviews. Even worse, a single bad experience was enough to cause 50% of U.S. respondents to feel “somewhat” to “very likely” to defect to a competitor. Add one or two more bad experiences, and the number of U.S. buyers ready to defect to a competitor jumped to 93%.
This gap between expectations and service delivery means that B2B buyers see B2B sellers as interchangeable at best and a disappointment at worst. As a result, the customer experience suffers, and sales organizations lose more than individual deals: they jeopardize growing the lifetime value of a customer.
How to Make Your Sales Organization Service-Ready
Given these high stakes, it’s critical that sales leaders partner with their customer service counterparts to adopt a customer experience strategy that puts customers at the center of every interaction to help them achieve their personal and professional goals.
In doing so, sales and service leaders can work together to improve their organization’s customer retention, discover new opportunities for cross-selling and upselling and deepen customer relationships.
To set your company up to create the memorable customer experiences that lead to increased customer satisfaction, consider taking advantage of the customer experience strategies in our Service Ready product suite.