How Sales Teams Impact Customer Experience

How Sales Teams Impact Customer Experience

Prioritizing the customer experience (CX) is a key part of remaining competitive—and, frankly, relevant—in a marketplace packed with digitally-savvy consumers who don’t just appreciate added value from brands, but rather have come to expect it. As more companies rightly focus on CX, it’s important that every team understand the role they play in the process. For example, sales teams equipped with the proper tools—and, better yet, aligned with service teams—can positively impact CX in big ways. Let’s explore what the best companies are doing to include CX best practices into sales processes—and why it matters.

CX Best Practices for Sales Teams

Do you think the job of a salesperson stops after the deal is closed? After all, they’ve acquired the client, built the relationship, and made the sale. After that, it’s time to move along and do it all over again. Right?

Wrong. Sort of.

Yes, that salesperson should constantly be moving, looking for new opportunities—but that doesn’t mean stranding existing customers simply because the transaction has been completed. As my colleague Shelly Kramer so aptly wrote in a recent post, nailing CX is all about perspective when it comes to understanding the buying process. And, to understand the buying process, you have to follow the action—for salespeople, the action happens before the sale; for customers, it comes after.

How can sales people streamline it all and ensure the customer has an incredible experience every step of the way? Here are some best practices:

  • Constantly gather feedback. Sales teams need to know what works and what doesn’t. This knowledge can come from a variety of sources, including marketing (generating customer personas, etc) and service (sharing common customer pain points, etc). Proactively gathering feedback is essential to prioritizing CX.
  • . . . And use it. All the knowledge and feedback in the world isn’t going to help if it’s left to collect dust. Using new information to improve existing processes (or generate more efficient ones) is how teams—and entire companies—move forward and bring more value to their consumers.
  • Put available technology to work. It’s vital to do everything possible to streamline the experience for customers; that work often starts in-house and is enabled by technology. Tools like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms or other data management systems have become standard in many companies, yet some teams still struggle to use them optimally. It’s critical to both budget for the proper tools and train team members on not just how the software is used but also why it’s so important to the customer journey.
  • Understand the customer journey (and map it). Sales teams must understand and map every part of the customer journey so they can deliver value at each step—this isn’t new information. In fact, it’s table stakes to making sales in the first place. Teams in progressive companies take it one step further by collecting information (i.e., qualitative like feedback and quantitative like hard data) throughout the entire buyer journey to measure sales effectiveness. The goal? To know what works, why, and how often—all with the intent to deliver excellent experiences.
  • Join with service. Sales and service can easily be a CX dream team. Some progressive companies have already discovered this fact, aligning the two and allowing them to collaborate to gain not only the business but the advocacy of their customers. It’s a natural pairing, but it also takes work to maintain—keeping the lines of communication open is key. Salesforce Canada recommendsestablishing collective incentives to encourage such strategic collaboration.

Why It Matters

When a customer has a positive experience with a company, that’s worth something—and I’m talking about more than the dollars they paid for that product or service. Of course, the bottom line counts and meeting sales goals is an important part of the viability of any company, but here’s a question often overlooked in the race to revenue: What about the comprehensive impact of negative sales experiences on brands? It turns out underperforming when it comes to CX costs a lot more than single sale, as the following data points from HelpScout show:

  • Negatives hold more weight than positives. It takes a whopping 12 positive experiences to make up for only one that was negative and/or unresolved.
  • Bad news travels fast. Many people turn to digital outlets to sing the praises of brands they love, but even more do the same to complain about poor customer service from brands they don’t. (Who could forget the United Airlines public customer service fail that lit up Twitter just last month?) Not surprisingly, news of poor customer experiences has more than double the reach of that of positive news.
  • Lose a customer, lose more than a sale. Ninety-one percent of unhappy customers won’t willingly do business with the company that they feel wronged them—ever. And that’s a bummer because it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain the ones you already have.

What’s Next?

It’s clearer than ever that CX matters. Winning at CX, though, isn’t just a marketing goal. It isn’t just a customer service goal. It just isn’t a sales goal. It’s a company goal in which every team plays a part. Here, I’ve covered various ways sales can contribute to the cause and also touched on the value of collaborating with other teams, such as customer service.

Put the spotlight on your business for a moment: Is your sales team empowered to improve CX? What’s working for you? Tell me in the comments, and let’s start a conversation.

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