We’re tailor-made to create customer insights and value!
The demand for change in the way we sell to customers has never been greater. Businesses are struggling to grow revenues as they grapple with evolving customer expectations and buying complexity. Traditional ways of working are no longer fit for purpose as customer frustration mounts and sales performance stagnates. Increasingly, leaders are searching for new ways of working to meet these changing customer needs and reignite growth. Faced with a growing multitude of sales models, tools and techniques, finding the right new ways of working can seem impossible. But the key ingredient is something we all have and unleashing its potential is within our reach.
In this article, I will look at 5 ways in which you can transform your sales strategy to meet these new customer demands and help you start the journey towards sustainable revenue growth. I’ll explore how to orchestrate teams to elevate the customer experience and why helping customers adapt to change and disruption is the secret to unlocking future revenue predictability. I’ll also provide a new framework for success to help you get started.
1. Customers expect more. Think high-value innovation partner.
To begin, let’s put ourselves into the shoes of our customers for a moment. The explosion of digital technologies in the last 10 years has revolutionised how we do business and created unprecedented disruption in almost all industries. We all know about the companies that underestimated the impact that these technologies would have on their business viability and as a result lost market dominance– think Kodak, Blockbuster and Nokia to name but a few. These industry giants failed to see the existential threat on the horizon. They avoided taking the risky bet to move away from established ways of doing business to ready themselves to compete in a rapidly changing marketplace. The rest is history!
Today, your customers face an even more daunting challenge as the pace of change and disruption continues to accelerate. Their future success is dependent on their ability to adapt and disrupt themselves, if they wish to stay relevant in their marketplace. Perhaps then it’s not too surprising that customer expectations have changed when it comes to selecting suppliers to help them on that journey. Customers increasingly recognise the importance of forming high-value partnerships to help them adapt and respond to the constant change and disruption they are experiencing. The priority has shifted away from working with preferred suppliers, to finding high-value partners that can help generate the kind of continuous innovation that’s now so critical to maintaining competitive advantage. The ability to provide continuous value in this way, is now seen by many customers as a key differentiator when choosing a partner. Customers expect partners to provide deep expertise, new commercial insights and design led thinking to challenge the status quo and spark innovation. In a recent survey, 86% of customers said they would pay as much as 18% for this kind of partner value. A real indication of just how much expectations have changed. If partners can deliver continuous value in this way, rich rewards await!
The challenge of course for many Suppliers today is how to make the transition from existing, out-dated ways of working to deliver this kind of value time and again. Here in lies both the challenge and opportunity for many revenue organisations!
2. Breakdown the silos and execute on the promise.
We know that traditional revenue generation structures are failing to meet today’s customer expectations. We see evidence of this everywhere, with more than half of all teams missing quota and only 8% of customers saying they receive a good experience. Customers complain they are overwhelmed with content, struggle with conflicting messages and generally believe that the suppliers’ over-riding priority is winning the sale! (This is usually true in my experience.)
To make matters worse, the way most companies have structured their revenue teams only serves to reinforce this perception. Leaders prioritise short-term revenue results, with little emphasis on the customer experience and long-term value creation. Compensation plans and bonus structures are usually geared to reinforce these goals. Marketing, Sales and Customer Success teams are siloed, each operating with often competing prioritises that are more aligned to internal objectives, rather than customer goals. This system is designed for volume, speed and short-term revenue maximisation. Its perhaps not too surprising that so many customers are frustrated with this experience. In a world where customer needs and expectations have radically changed, old organisation design and sales operational models are simply no longer fit for purpose.
3. Build continuous value creation for you and your customers.
Let’s think for a moment about what the future could look like. What do customers really want and value? How can you take advantage of these changes to leapfrog your competitors and establish high-value partnerships, that deliver predictable revenue growth over the long-term?
Many organisations are asking themselves these questions and have already started their journey towards continuous customer value creation. In the last 2 to 3 years, we’ve seen the rise of Revenue Operations as companies unify more teams around the customer to deliver more value and enhance their experience across the buying journey. This has been a welcome development and has helped many companies turn the customer experience into something every member of the wider team is involved in. It’s becoming a real differentiator for many and is delivering more high quality, low regret deals than ever before. A recent study showed that companies that align teams to engage customers in this way, grew revenues 19% quicker than those that didn’t.
However, there is still a long way to go. Whilst most businesses recognise the need for strategic change, they continue to get distracted with short-term revenue goals. As a result, little progress is made in implementing the cultural and structural changes needed to deliver continuous customer value. In recent years, Customer Success teams have done a great job enhancing the customer onboarding experience. As a result, these teams are now taking greater responsibility for revenue growth- managing the customer relationship and developing new expansion opportunities. Again, whilst a step in the right direction, I would argue this approach is still siloed and has more to do with achieving revenue goals, than truly helping customers to navigate through the ongoing challenges they face to succeed long-term.
With this in mind, let’s explore what the differences are between a traditional preferred supplier and a continuous high-value partner. The following table outlines the key qualities and attributes of both. Which best describes your organisation?
It’s important to also mention, there are many other benefits to orchestrating teams to deliver value in this way. Naturally, teams that embed themselves in the customers world, gain their own valuable insights and learnings which can be continuously looped back into agile product design. In this model, team members feel empowered and energised with a higher value purpose and mission. The employee experience is elevated as people get to work in a way that enhances intrinsic motivation- they are part of a team, creativity is valued, they solve problems and succeed together. Individual contributions are also recognised and rewarded. A culture of continuous learning becomes engrained within the business fabric. Learning is seen as a strategic enabler of customer value creation, rather than a tactical obligation. This is the sales culture of the future – customer centric, employee centric, always learning, always creating. I’m a firm believer that a determined focus on delivering value to both stakeholders in this way, is the key to unlocking sustainable revenue growth.
4. Embrase the human factor. Its tailor-made to deliver.
As humans we are tailor-made to create new insights and deliver continuous customer value. We are specialists at strategy, planning and problem solving. We excel at creativity and innovation. We learn from our mistakes and adapt to build better. The question becomes how do we harness these collective capabilities and put them to work for our customers? If we accept that the key to unlocking sustained revenue growth is in fact to help customers to adapt and thrive in their marketplace, then we need to think about building the right culture, organisation design, systems and technology infrastructure to enable teams to engage customers in this way. We believe that companies that build this capability will be among the fastest growing companies over the next 10 years.
5. Follow a framework for continuous customer value creation.
We recognise that transformation is not easy. It’s difficult to pull all the interdependent strands together, to deliver strategic change. This becomes even more challenging when daily objectives still need to be met. With this in mind, we’ve created the following framework to help you get started. It includes 5 pillars that we believe are critical to building a truly customer focused revenue organisation that can deliver continuous value at scale. We’d recommend you focus on defining culture and customer value first, if you get this right, you’ll then have a strong north star from which you can design the appropriate team practices, workflows and technology requirements.
- We align teams behind a common purpose & mission. There is meaning and value.
- Teamwork and collaboration are at the centre of how we work.
- We believe that collective performance is key to value creation and success.
- We promote autonomy and self-governance.
- We strive for mastery, by providing continuous learning and development.
- We are focused on making our customers successful.
- We partner with our customers and always have their best interests in mind.
- We help customers make-sense of change and complexity.
- We provide continuous high-value insights to help customers adapt & succeed.
- We listen, take feedback and capture learnings to improve how we deliver value.
- We work as one united team with the customer at the centre of our focus.
- There is clarify of team roles and responsibilities across the customer buying journey.
- We understand what high performance is and have a defined learning path to mastery.
- We come together to strategize, plan, problem-solve, design & innovate.
- There is transparency to individual work. All team members are recognised and rewarded for their contributions.
- The team is aligned to a common set of goals, objectives and KPIs.
- The team works together collectively to achieve those goals and objectives.
- Customer experience and the quality of team engagement are key measures of success.
- Customer advocacy and buyer consensus building are key measures of effectiveness.
- We share the recognition and reward (compensation plans/ bonuses).
Systems & tools
- Systems and tools help align our shared vision, meaning, purpose and direction.
- They are principle-led adaptive systems & tools that flex with our needs.
- They enable us to be agile and responsive.
- They provide insights into customer experience, advocacy and buyer consensus.
- They guide with high-performance workflows, to optimise team effectiveness.
With change and disruption comes opportunity. Unlock the incredible potential within your organisation to deliver continuous customer value at scale. If you’d like to know more about how to implement our framework for success, without needing to resort to a complex and expensive transformation project, please reach-out! We’d be delighted to see how we can help.