SMM November December 2015 : Page 6

NOV DEC 2015 Is your customer contact a group hug? Understanding the risk of customer relationships that are focused too intently on a single sales rep BY RACHEL KLEIN, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY, AVENUE B2B sales force turnover continues to worsen, with total churn of 22.4 percent in 2015, significantly higher than the year before. The high cost of replacing and retraining sales reps is painful enough. But there is a potentially more damaging risk that can arise from this rapidly revolving door—one that is best summed up as the “Loyalty Giveaway.” Loyalty Giveaway is when customer loyalty resides primarily with the sales rep, or other customer-facing employee, as opposed to the company or brand that provides the product or service. Where does loss of customer loyalty begin? Everyone knows the story of the boy too shy to talk to the girl, who enlists the help of his friend to become his mouthpiece. In the end, the friend and the girl develop the relationship, while the boy gets left out. Why? It’s hard to develop a relationship with—and loyalty to—someone with whom you have no direct, meaningful connection. It’s much the same with sales-driven B2B companies, which too frequently delegate all relationship management responsibilities, including customer communication and the customer experience, to a single sales rep (who then becomes too much of a “star” to the client). If that rep walks out your door, the customer relationship and its revenue are likely to follow. Even the best sales reps will selectively sell, naturally concentrating on what facilitates their individual sales goals rather than the company’s overall objectives. If the client sees only their one “star,” they get incomplete information, potentially missing or misunderstanding the company’s full offering. As a result, upselling and cross-selling is curtailed, and the customer never comes to fully understand the company values (and value adds) that can motivate additional buying. Reverse the risk of lost loyalty Fortunately, you can prevent all of the above losses if you pre-empt the “single sales rep as the star,” model by creating what will be an entire organization of stars in the client’s eyes. This can be accomplished in five ways: 1. Define your customer experience. Loyalty grows from providing an unparalleled overall experience that the customer wants to repeat. Some people call this “brand experience,” and it is indeed guided by your brand strategy—but it’s all about the customer. IILLUSTRATIONSOURCE.COM / STEPHEN QUINLAN Problems beyond loss of loyalty As if loss of loyalty, and the eventual loss of your customers, isn’t enough, there’s another major downside to the “single sales rep as the star” model: immediate loss of sales opportunities. 6 NOV/DEC 2015 SALES AND MARKETING .COM

NOV DEC 2015 NEXT

Rachel Klein

Is your customer contact a group hug?
Understanding the risk of customer relationships that are focused too intently on a single sales rep

B2B sales force turnover continues to worsen, with total churn of 22.4 percent in 2015, significantly higher than the year before. The high cost of replacing and retraining sales reps is painful enough. But there is a potentially more damaging risk that can arise from this rapidly revolving door—one that is best summed up as the “Loyalty Giveaway.”

Loyalty Giveaway is when customer loyalty resides primarily with the sales rep, or other customerfacing employee, as opposed to the company or brand that provides the product or service. Where does loss of customer loyalty begin?

Everyone knows the story of the boy too shy to talk to the girl, who enlists the help of his friend to become his mouthpiece. In the end, the friend and the girl develop the relationship, while the boy gets left out. Why? It’s hard to develop a relationship with—and loyalty to—someone with whom you have no direct, meaningful connection.

It’s much the same with sales-driven B2B companies, which too frequently delegate all relationship management responsibilities, including customer communication and the customer experience, to a single sales rep (who then becomes too much of a “star” to the client). If that rep walks out your door, the customer relationship and its revenue are likely to follow.

Problems beyond loss of loyalty
As if loss of loyalty, and the eventual loss of your customers, isn’t enough, there’s another major downside to the “single sales rep as the star” model: immediate loss of sales opportunities.

Even the best sales reps will selectively sell, naturally concentrating on what facilitates their individual sales goals rather than the company’s overall objectives. If the client sees only their one “star,” they get incomplete information, potentially missing or misunderstanding the company’s full offering. As a result, upselling and cross-selling is curtailed, and the customer never comes to fully understand the company values (and value adds) that can motivate additional buying.

Reverse the risk of lost loyalty
Fortunately, you can prevent all of the above losses if you pre-empt the “single sales rep as the star,” model by creating what will be an entire organization of stars in the client’s eyes. This can be accomplished in five ways:


Define your customer experience. Loyalty grows from providing an unparalleled overall experience that the customer wants to repeat. Some people call this “brand experience,” and it is indeed guided by your brand strategy—but it’s all about the customer.

Distractions may help you be more productive
We are taught from a young age to believe in the power of sustained attention, but psychologist Josh Davis says if your workforce is struggling to be productive, they may not be daydreaming enough.

Research suggests that mind wandering has important benefits when it comes to performing the kinds of tasks that are among the most cognitively challenging to professionals—creative problem solving and long-term planning. Participants in a University of California at Santa Barbara study who did more mind wandering came up with more creative solutions to the problems presented to them after they had some time to let their brains chew on them.

“The next time you find your mind drifting away from a complex challenge or a problem you are trying to creatively solve, rather than yell at yourself for losing your focus, just let it happen and reap the benefits of mind wandering,” Davis states in his new book, “Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done” (HarperCollins).

Davis reinforces the notion that success in the workplace is indisputably tied to diet, sleep patterns, exercise and other factors we don’t focus on enough. “At some level, we all know from experience that we can be remarkably effective in short amounts of time when we treat ourselves right—and horribly ineffective when we don’t,” Davis states. “Once you understand the science behind what makes us truly productive, you can trust and build on what you already know about yourself, and start thinking about your day in terms of how and when to set yourself up for two awesome hours.”

Building and keeping your business network
“Beat maintenance” is a term journalists use to refer to the cultivation and upkeep of useful sources for their stories. It’s a reminder that top performance in most professions revolves around strong relationships. Huffington Post contributor Irina Jordan, inbound marketing manager at Zurple, a provider of lead-nurturing software for real estate professionals, recently offered these tips for building and keeping strong business relationships.

Keep track of clients’ important dates.
Keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and any special events for your clients and prospective clients in a CRM platform. Make any special notes about their family, friends and professional accomplishments that you can mention in one of your upcoming interactions.

Leverage social media. You want to have an established online presence: not only through your own website but through any social media channels your target audience frequents. Hint: it’s about your clients and not about you. Provide content of value, share your expertise freely without asking anything in return and build trust with your potential and existing client base for years to come.

Do the ask. You’ve done the work and established your cred, now ask your clients to spread the word about you. Ask them to refer their business contacts to you as their way of saying “thank you” for all the invaluable service and expertise you’ve provided to them.

Stay in touch. Leverage the intelligence you’ve gathered about your clients’ important dates to reach out on those dates instead of predictable holidays via “oh so boring” holiday cards. Stand out by tailoring your communications to events and happenings that are personal to your clients.

The holiday gift ideas on pages 30 & 31 work any time of year.

Content vs. SEO? The truth is you need them both
There is a fundamental relationship between content marketing and SEO because both tactics are about providing information to searchers. SEO specialists recognize the best way to rank websites to help searchers find them is by creating great content, while marketers realize that optimizing their work using SEO tactics increases the authority of content, says Gary Parkinson, a Toronto-based marketing consultant. He offers these tips for enhancing the authority of your content so search engines recognize your site as a valuable source of information:

Keywords still drive results – While keywords are no longer as relevant as they were a few years ago, they are still relevant to optimize content for ranking authority. To diversify your ranking authority and potentially increase your leads, research “long tail keywords.” These search terms are longer phrases or sentences that are specific to buying intentions. If you rank for long-tail terms that are indirectly related to your core business model, your content will reap the benefits of a well-executed SEO strategy.

Think about what content appears in search engine results pages – The content you insert into the title and meta description tags should encourage people to click the URL that appears in SERPs.

Engage your audience – Create content that captivates your audience’s mind and encourages them to share with their own networks of friends or followers. If you successfully create something with that extra “wow” factor, you can even attract the attention of powerful influencers who may be inclined to comment on your work or share it with their own networks.

Meetings make business happen
Yes, B2B buyers are increasingly moving through the buying cycle on their own time and collecting their own product information, but let’s be clear: news of the death of face-to-face sales meetings is definitely premature.

In fact, reports Gavin Finn at MediaPost.com, data from Forrester research and others proves that in-person meetings are the most important part of a customer’s buying experience.

Oxford Economics studied the effectiveness of virtual meetings (phone, video, chat, etc.) and determined that for new prospects, in-person meetings were 85 percent more effective than virtual meetings, and this benefit was incredibly significant even for existing customers (65 percent). What advantages do buyers in a complex B2B sales process receive from a personal touch?

• When it comes time to help the prospect make a good buying decision, cognitive studies have shown that there needs to be an emotional connection that goes beyond analytics. Body language, facial expressions and voice tone are all examples of emotional cues that are not captured in email discussions, chat rooms and even videoconferencing to help buyers evaluate vendors.
• Buyers want to establish a relationship with the company, and even the people in the company. That relationship will transcend the initial transaction, and will allow for a mutual exchange of value that lasts a long time.
• A study of organizational behavior showed that overall outcomes of group purchase decisions were far superior when there were face-to-face meetings with vendors, highlighting effectiveness both in terms of better decisions (long-term satisfaction) as well as efficiency in the process.

Perhaps the best reason salespeople should embrace real client contact is because studies have shown that sales cycles are much shorter when face-to-face meetings are part of the process.

4 quotes that will make you a better marketer
Great marketers are great communicators. They’re passionate about getting their message to the people, says Lolly Spindler, inbound marketing manager at marketing consultancy xoombi. She blogs at xoombi.com/blog and recently shared these four quotes that will inspire you to be more courageous with your marketing efforts.

“ The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.”
– Jerry Gregoire, CIO of Dell

Keep the customer and his or her buyer’s journey in mind when creating everything from gated assets to social media posts. This will help them more easily navigate the process, making for happier customers.

“ Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
– Andrew Davis, author and marketing consultant (akadrewdavis.com)

By building up your content arsenal and delivering truly valuable, engaging content, you’ll be able to build a relationship with your target audience.

“ If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t know it yourself.”
– Albert Einstein

Sometimes our products or services are so intricate — and we’re so close to them — that it’s hard to break them down in simple terms. As marketers, we must take a step away from the jargon and put our messages in the simplest language possible.

“ Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points.”
– Jonah Sachs, author and CEO of Free Range Studios, a Washington, D.C.- based marketing and advertising firm

Marketers today have more channels to worry about than ever before. Wherever customers interact with your company is where your brand takes shape. That’s why it’s incredibly important to partake in social media marketing and monitoring. Knowing how your target audience sees your business will help you continue to shape it.

Top-performing teams don’t happen by chance
Greg Alexander, CEO of Sales Benchmark Index, a B2B sales and marketing consulting firm, hosts a monthly Web TV show in which he interviews top performing sales executives. Recently, he spoke with Todd Cione, chief revenue officer at Rackspace, the top global provider of cloud computing services, on the topic of building a team of A players. Here are some highlights from the Cione interview, which can be viewed in its entirety at salesbenchmarkindex.com/blog:

Cione on recruiting the right people: Planning is the start of success. We have a talent management framework in place and the first couple pillars are planning and then hiring. The plan is critical. It dictates the type of job descriptions you need and what the ideal candidate profiles are. We’ve spent some time building those out by job type. There are a lot of different roles, a lot of different job descriptions per role and a lot of different ideal candidate profiles associated with those job descriptions.

The best people are often not looking for a job: There are certainly some anomalies where strong talent gets put into the marketplace for a variety of reasons, but passive candidates, without question, are typically the highest and most targeted folks we go after. If you go to market with a product or service and you don’t have a strong value proposition that’s really clear, you aren’t going to be successful. It’s the same in recruiting. If you don’t have a strong, clear value proposition for level A talent, you’re going to struggle. It’s important for our leaders to understand what a value prop for an employee is and ensure that our recruiting team knows that as well.

Collaboration and its correlation to sales success: Gone are the days of an individual being successful working on their own. We have a broad product and services offering, so we have specialists that a seller has to work with to be successful. If you cannot effectively communicate and collaborate with other people, you’re just not going to be successful.

The onboarding process:
We use three primary components – learning through training, learning through mentoring and learning through experiences. We found that visually seeing and engaging with someone who does your job well is really important for onboarding. And putting an individual into experiences where they can see what is expected of them in action is also really important.

The workplace as ant colony and how to fix it
Remember the fable about the grasshopper who fiddles away his summer while the ant stores up food for the winter? Well, it turns out ants may not be such devoted workers after all.

George Jacob, a content architect at PeopleMetrics, creators of customer centric software, stumbled across research that indicates ant colonies may resemble many workplaces. Of the ants the researchers defined as workers, they found that:

• More than 7 in 10 (72 percent) were inactive at least half the time they were observed
• One-fourth were never seen working
• Less than 3 percent of the ants were always active

“The sad reality is those numbers don’t feel too far off base for a disengaged workforce,” Jacob says. But there is hope.

Independent research shows that customer focus plays a role in employee engagement. Employee satisfaction surveys show that two-thirds of employees in a customer-centric culture are engaged, and one in four is fully engaged.

“Want to know the biggest, brightest difference between the anthill and the workplace?” Jacob asks. “We can ask each other what’s wrong, and then we can work together to fix it.”

Have you lost that lovin’ feeling for your work?
Top performance doesn’t mix with complacency. Katie Douthwaite Wolf, a content marketing writer for a health care IT company and a contributor to The Muse (themuse.com), an online career guidance resource, provides these signs that your drive to succeed has waned:



You’ve stopped sharing your ideas.
Maybe your ideas were met with resistance too many times, or maybe you simply fell into the team’s long-established processes, and now it seems that any change would be an unnecessary burden for yourself and your team. You may feel completely competent within your current workflows, but if you’re not constantly looking for ways to improve, it’s clear that you’ve lost some drive to succeed.



You don’t speak up when you disagree.
Instead of looking out for your teammates’ best interests, you have an attitude of “if they want to make bad decisions, let them; they’ll get what’s coming to them.”



You’re no longer interested in staying current.
Are you opting out of conferences and other events that would keep you up to date on important knowledge and trends in your industry? When you feel a little too smug in your position, it’s easy to let your job knowledge slip.


You don’t take initiative.
Instead of working ahead on your to-do list, you let your responsibilities pile up until the last minute.

“If you allow yourself to remain complacent, you’re likely going to grow dissatisfied while your performance suffers,” says Wolf. “For the sake of your happiness and career, learn to recognize these signs and start considering what steps you can take to renew that ‘new job’ feeling.”

Read the full article at http://pubs.royle.com/article/NOV+DEC+2015+NEXT/2317192/279744/article.html.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here