HomeBlog Do You Have a Silent Killer in Your Sales Pipeline?

Do You Have a Silent Killer in Your Sales Pipeline?

April 29, 2015 | By Megan Heuer

  • Sales and marketing must examine the quality of customer experience when determining the health of the pipeline
  • If the quality of your customer experience is poor, it won’t be long prospects decide to go with another.company
  • Organizations should use customer surveys and service and support feedback and be ready to act on this information

We’ve been playing the blame game all wrong when it comes to demand creation. Usually, sales blames marketing for bad leads, and marketing blames sales for not following up or converting demand when the organization doesn’t achieve its desired revenue results.

It turns out that both sales and marketing should be looking at something else altogether if revenue growth is coming up short. Your pipeline’s silent killer is the quality of customer experience.

What does the post-sale experience have to do with making a buying decision, you ask? Plenty. Here are some statistics from our SiriusDecisions primary research studies of senior-level b-to-b decisionmakers:

  • 89 percent of CXOs say their perception of a vendor’s brand (i.e. the sum of customer experience) “moderately” or “significantly” influences their short-list creation.
  • 75 percent of a CXO’s research is done via personal interactions and viral communication networks, where people who have had experience with your organization share what it was like.
  • 80 percent of a CXO’s final decision is based on his or her – or others’ – experience with your company, so you can’t get away with not keeping your promises for long).

Each of these data points makes it clear that if the quality of your customer experience is poor, it won’t be long before word gets out and your prospects decide to go with another company. The best marketing campaigns and most effective sales professionals will not be able to overcome the impact of what happens after somebody buys.

There is a positive side to these findings: If your customer experience is, in fact, excellent, you have built a significant competitive advantage that will be difficult for competitors to emulate or deny, especially if theirs isn’t so good. Positive experiences can result in organic word-of-mouth marketing and referrals to fill your pipeline, as well as plenty of customers willing to share their experience via formal advocacy activities and plenty of customers to help amplify your message.

This is, in effect, free publicity of the very best kind, making your marketing and customer experience investments exponentially more valuable and impactful because they builds on the most credible content possible: your customers’ own stories. When this publicity is combined with great sales and marketing alignment, revenue results will follow. Growth and profitability results also improve, as the company holds onto more of its existing customers and doesn’t have to spend to fill a leaky growth bucket.

So, what do companies do to stop the silent killer of negative customer experience? First, find out if your customer experience is helping or harming your efforts. Start with customer surveys and service or support feedback. Know what’s being said in the market organically on social media and in relevant communities. Have open conversations with analysts and other influencers about what they’re hearing. Second, don’t dismiss any bad news as flawed or incorrect. Customer experience, like beauty, is very much in the eye of the beholder. Third, do something about it. If the feedback is positive, make sure your marketing content and interactions make use of customer advocacy in all its forms. If customer experience is not good, it’s past time to fix it.

Megan Heuer

Megan Heuer is Vice President of Research at SiriusDecisions. With more than 20 years of industry and professional services experience, she has worked both in – and for – organizations to build a wide variety of collaborative sales and marketing deliverables that drive systematic, predictable growth. Follow Megan on Twitter @megheuer.

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