Sales organisations spend a lot of time trying to convince customers, or potential customers, that they have the best solutions to their problems. While this is obviously an important part of generating sales, it only forms part of the customer journey and is not enough, in of itself, to generate loyalty and advocacy.
To achieve this, it is imperative that sales teams also prioritise the post-sale section of the customer journey and ensure that customers are successful in actually using the products, or implementing the solutions. It is, after all, this part of the journey that customers will use to assess the value they have received.
In this blog post, we examine the importance of investing sufficiently in your customers’ success.
Focus On Post-Sale
Over the course of the CSO Insights 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, one of the top expectations cited by participants was that organisations take an active interest in the post-sale period. Despite this, the study found a perception that sellers were not committed enough to customers after a sale is made.
“It isn’t enough to just sell a company a product,” one of the study respondents told researchers while providing feedback. “There has to be a continued interest in its success.”
Typically, the customer journey goes through three main phases: awareness, buying and implementation. For the most part, sales organisations focus heavily on the awareness and buying phases, often neglecting implementation. Yet, for the customer, the implementation phase is actually the most important step and their main focus.
This is a good example of what we mean when we say the customer experience is everybody’s responsibility. In the past, there has been a perception that sales departments are responsible for making a sale and customer service is responsible for post-sale support, but it is increasingly important for sales reps to develop strong customer service skills, which is why businesses invest in customer service coaching for their sales teams.
Customer Success Marketing
Aside from simply keeping customers happy and ensuring that you actually provide them with solutions that work for them, one of the biggest reasons why you should invest in your customers’ success is linked to a concept called customer success marketing, which can help your business to grow.
Essentially, the theory behind customer success marketing is that, by ensuing customers are successful in using your products, you can generate loyalty. Over the long-term, you can then turn this loyalty into advocacy, with these customers recommending you to colleagues, friends and even strangers.
While carrying out research for its 2018 Customer Experience Study, CSO Insights learned that there is currently a substantial disparity between leader organisations and laggard organisations in terms of understanding the importance of customer loyalty. Indeed, 73 percent of leaders in high performing organisations see it as core to the success of their business, while just 56 percent of leaders in laggard businesses say the same.
Leader organisations are also twice as likely to sufficiently budget the money and other resources necessary to continuously improve the customer experience through things like customer service coaching and training.
Customer Success Teams
Aside from improving reps’ customer service skills, implementing a customer success marketing strategy requires cross-functional collaboration between sales, marketing and customer service. For example, marketing can produce case studies demonstrating customer success, and sales can use these to persuade prospects.
Once again, the CSO Insights 2018 Customer Experience Study found a significant gap between leader and laggard organisations when it comes to recognising the need for collaboration, aligning strategy to what customers expect, understanding the customer experience, and sharing data and best practices between departments.
Some organisations are even taking the step of establishing dedicated customer success teams, which work to ensure these departments do work together, but also to consistently measure customer success. Regardless, it is crucial that sales leaders invest heavily in this area, as customer experience is now the key battleground.
“Have we done enough to make sure that our customers are successful using our products? Do we have enough customer success case studies to share with our new prospects?” asks Wen Chuang, writing for Marketo. “It’s not a question of whether your company should be investing in retention, expansion, and advocacy, it’s how much you should be investing. If you do this well, you can turn your customers into your best growth engine.”
The Final Word
For sales organisations to succeed over the long-term, it is not enough to simply focus on the awareness and buying stages of the customer journey. Instead, they must invest to ensure that customers are successful in actually implementing their products, so that they remain loyal and eventually become brand advocates.
The topic of cross-departmental collaboration, designed around the customer journey, will be covered extensively as part of the upcoming Sales Enablement Summit 2018, which is coming to London this November. For more information about this event, and to register your own attendance, please click here.