SalesTech Star

Future-Ready B2B Sales: Digital Customer Experience Takes Center Stage

By Dipanjan Das, Global Sales & Commercial Service Line Lead, Hi-Tech, Media and Services, Genpact

The art of B2B sales was transforming even before the pandemic. The move toward digital-first has eroded the role of traditional sales teams in areas as diverse as the automotive industry, where Tesla reinvented car sales into a 100% online process; to the subscription world, where Amazon Web Services made purchasing IT resources both simple and intuitive. This is the future of B2B sales, and for companies to succeed, they need an impressive digital customer experience (Digital CX).

The shift to digital-first sales, further accelerated by the pandemic, will be marked by two key disruptions:

The end of outside sales as we know it:

Customers no longer see sellers as just vendors – the sales role is rapidly transitioning into that of a trusted advisor.  Gen Z wants to talk to a salesperson only after having done significant online research — and they want to complete the buying process online. As a result, the entire sales operating model must be redesigned and the sales skills required to succeed in this new model reassessed.

Insights-led selling:

With 74% of buyer research completed before initial contact, sales strategies must be insights-led to reach target customers in real time. The revenue cycle, from acquisition to engagement to renewals, must be differentiated by an organization’s data strategy, which should zero in on regions/markets, as well as products/services being researched by potential buyers. Sellers can then use data for prescriptive real-time marketing to these prospective clients. Data can also help further qualify leads, so sellers only make calls to warm leads as opposed to cold calling.

This approach should then be repeated to track engagement post-sale to monitor the value the customer is getting from the product/service, as well as to evaluate potential up-sell or cross-sell opportunities and reduce the risk of attrition. This end-to-end “sales-to-engagement-to-success process” is built on a foundation of data-to-insights-to-action.

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Building a winning digital CX strategy

Digital CX connects the dots between customer acquisition, continuous engagement and customer success and retention. It’s the foundation for sales organizations to change their culture, build insights-led selling and improve end-to-end experience across the revenue operations cycle.

To build a successful digital CX strategy, organizations need to do three things:

1. Simplify the sales process

The future of customer experience (CX) will be about simplifying buying and engaging with customers with the ultimate goal of building a 1-click selling capability. B2B sellers need to ask:

  • How easy is it to find my product or service?
  • How many steps does a typical buying process entail? How many of these are really required?
  • What do my buyers typically look for during the initial research stage?
  • Are there ways of realizing value prior to a contractual commitment?

Customer expectations in the B2B world are being raised by companies such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft who make it easy for a channel partner or an enterprise buyer to make purchasing decisions. For example, AWS offers options for enterprise buyers to explore their products and services, such as its “Free Tier” offer which includes free trials, 12 months free, and always free. Amazon also offers startups up to $100,000 in AWS credits.

Disrupting your CX strategy requires creative thinking to change traditional models but will yield a long-term competitive advantage. It also means reconsidering the partner ecosystem and partner experience if channel partners drive a significant percentage of revenue. Similarly, front-end employees need to have the right digital tools and be motivated to transition from transactional work, such as fixing master data issues in quote and price, to more strategic work, such as researching and improving the CX based on data and insights.

2. Develop a razor-sharp CX methodology

Once a new CX approach has been agreed, the next step is to formalize a data-to-insights-to-action methodology that measures the customer experience across the find – buy – engage – use – renew cycle of the product or service. This methodology covers the entire revenue operations cycle and measures and predicts CX using data from sales, marketing and customer success. It often generates a holistic health score of the CX for specific customers or customer segments, with these insights then being used by customer success, sales, and marketing teams to enhance and personalize experience at every step of the customer lifecycle.  This is a much more useful metric than typical customer success health scores that only measure usage and adoption and lack the deeper insights needed to acquire and retain more customers.

3. Define CX governance

To achieve value from the CX methodology, it’s important to break down the silos between marketing, sales, success and service. Some companies form a chief customer team that typically takes control of the new CX framework as it’s getting implemented and aligns the business on value delivered and next best actions. Other companies give the chief revenue officer (CRO) the responsibility for digital CX across the organization. Whoever’s in charge, it’s important to have a holistic approach that supports change management.

New CX frameworks often uncover unexpected insights. For example, a sales leader might discover a large quote not followed up for a strategic customer; or a CRO could learn that although usage and adoption are high for an existing client, third-party data reveals they are actively researching similar products offered by competitors. These insights are invaluable for sales teams to discover, acquire and retain customers.

Digital CX empowers your sellers; it helps them understand customers in important new ways while completely transforming the way your customers engage with your products or service. This approach isn’t just useful when closing deals but is indispensable throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

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