We spend a lot of time talking about gathering insights from current customers to understand what makes or breaks their key experiences with our companies. Retention and growth of existing customers is at the forefront of our executive agendas, and we continually create new initiatives to help increase our odds of retaining and growing the customer base. However, do we really focus as intently as CX professionals on helping our sales team acquire the right customers?
While sales teams certainly do some assessment for “fit” before spending time with a prospect, it’s easy to ignore the characteristics that may result in a bad relationship when the prospect is ready and willing to buy at that moment. This often causes difficult transitions from sales to service teams, including lack of clarity on the partnership, service level agreements, and ultimately a misalignment of expectations.
So what can we as CX professionals do to help? We can bring a lot of value to sales teams to help them put the right filter on their prospective customer base. Here are a few steps to consider taking:
Profile the leads at an organization level. If the leads are stored in a centralized system, start to profile them into various groups. This may include size of the company, industry, perceived strategic fit, and method by which they were acquired as a lead to name a few. From there, look at how customers with the same profile have worked as customers once acquired. Which profile is the most profitable? What are their retention and growth rates? Which groups have a high cost to serve?
Understanding the needs of each group. Once you have a set of personas or profiles among the company’s sales leads, think about the needs of each group. What is causing them to put your company into their consideration set? That will help the sales teams determine specific strategies to help the leads convert to sales. You may need to do some exploratory work both internally and with customers to assist with this step.
Move to an opportunity-level assessment beyond the higher level needs. Once you have determined which profiles have the highest potential, think about the specific opportunity. Just because an opportunity with this potential customer has worked in the past, may not mean it is a good fit this time. Make sure your company can solve a particular challenge they are asking for.
Of course, don’t forget that there is a group of leads that really should be not be pursued. Make sure that there is a hierarchy of how prospects are serviced and communicated with, just as you would do with your customers. Hopefully by helping your sales teams put an even better lens on their sales efforts it will result in better retention of them once they become an active customer.
Vice President, Consulting Services