It’s an issue we’re all aware of and one that we hear about all the time: expectations that customers have from their IT solutions are rising all the time. As an independent software vendor, service provider or systems integrator reading this, you’ll know this all too well from your own client experiences. But what does it mean from a customer perspective? And what’s the best way for your sales and marketing teams to give them what they really want?

Salesforce research has identified five primary challenges that sales teams are finding in meeting customer expectations. In order of importance, they are: customer needs growing more sophisticated; customer motivations shifting from price to value; customers becoming more experienced with competitive and disciplined bidding; customers expecting the same level of service in every interaction; and customers expecting 24/7 sales availability. Together, they form a daunting and diverse set of challenges for sales teams and marketers to try and tackle.

At the recent Sales Hacker London conference, Zeenath Kuraisha, the head of Corporate Solutions and Sales Excellence at the Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Academy, suggested that the concept of ‘converged selling’ may provide a more rounded answer to these customer challenges. She described it as “design thinking, where the whole sales process and experience has to be considered.” In essence, this means creating and maintaining a complete sales and marketing operation that leaves no stone unturned in delivering customers a seamless journey and service.

As part of this concept, Kuraisha highlighted five key points to take into consideration:

 

  • Connecting your sales ‘Rubik’s Cube’: this means making sure every element of what you do, from sales planning to nurturing and everything in between, is interconnected and consistent.
  • Blending different ways of doing the same thing: instead of embracing just one of digital or outbound sales, adopt a combination of both. Similarly, you can integrate different internal operations with a mix of different systems and dashboards.
  • Don’t forget the little things: those extra touches like connecting with customers on the go, efficient calendar management or ensuring internal files are easy to access may seem like they aren’t relevant, but they can make a surprisingly big difference.
  • Meet your customers in person if you can: only 35% of companies feel they’re communicating proactively with their customers, while Salesforce’s research has found that in-person sales are still the most successful. Don’t dismiss other channels, though: all methods have success to certain extents, with phone and email the best-performing alternatives.
  • Watch out for disruptive influences: it won’t take much for a strong sales journey to be blown off-course by issues like a lack of personalisation, irrelevant KPIs, bad sales training or the wrong cadence being applied.

 

OK, there’s a lot of information and actions to digest here. But in an era where customers can respond just as positively to good sales and marketing techniques as they do negatively to bad ones, it’s worth making the effort to join the dots together – even if you have to bring in external support to do it.

You can take advantage of a wide range of resources, funding programmes and support services for sales and marketing when you partner with IBM. To find out more, click here.

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