Sales and Marketing Alignment: Enter the Chief Customer Officer

Von Ricky Abbott - 3rd August 2016

“Sales and marketing alignment” – heard it to death? Been around forever? Of course it has; whenever you think you’ve got sales and marketing fully aligned, something changes. It might be you change your marketing automation or you implement a new piece of analytical tech or sales have changed the way they are using their CRM.

What is interesting though is companies always think about how THEY align sales and marketing and the SLA’s they have in place or lead scoring or SFDC reporting but these often forget the one constant, your customers.

Recently, I was at an event and listening to a 30 minute presentation from a company on account based marketing. It was a unique spin on the space and so I was interested in what their product was. I did a bit of research on their website and then organised a sales call. So let’s put this into context:
1. Attended an event
2. Read over their site
3. Watched a webinar
4. Consumed some written content

Using MA scoring mechanisms, I probably scored quite highly and they would have approached me anyway. But I was keen to learn more so took the initiative to get in touch with them. I set up a chat with a salesperson for them to present their solution to me.

Here’s where the whole process came unstuck. I spent the first 40 minutes trying to get under the hood of exactly what is was they did, how it compared to other similar technologies, and what the use case was for buying this solution, etc.

Now the cynics reading this will probably say:

  • Rubbish salesperson
  • Haven’t sorted out their approach correctly
  • Marketing automation wasn’t working properly
  • What the hell were you doing calling somebody you wanted to buy from? Let them chase you!
  •  
    I tend to agree with some of the points above, especially the last one, but what it made me realise was that, how marketing qualify a lead vs. how sales take that lead over is still a pretty wide gap.

    You can have the best SLA’s, handover process and top technology, but if you forget about the actual customer in all of this, your efforts can miss the mark completely.

    This is where I think companies are missing a trick. You have the Chief Digital Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, Chief Content Officer, but what is the constant in all of these? It’s all about YOU, the company, when it should be about the CUSTOMER. Enter the Chief Customer Officer.

    I only found out today once I started researching that there was such a thing. Chief Customer Officer. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found loads of people being employed in this function, great! But then I got thinking again: we are an agency, we work with clients every day and help them create messaging and content, distribute said content and work with sales on how to action any engagements or leads. In all my time I have never once spoken to or had involvement from a Chief Customer Officer.

    So I dug a little deeper and found this interesting article on TechTarget. It details the pitfalls of a Chief Customer Officer and it made me wonder, what is the reality of their lives?

    How much of their time is spent thinking about the customer Vs. attending internal meetings? It’s a difficult role because anyone that works for you will always end up thinking of YOU and not the customer. Getting this role internally to really work is difficult which is why companies often get outside help in and ask the question ‘should I get a consultant in?’, basically someone that isn’t sitting in the business every day that can ask the hard questions that you don’t always want to answer.

    Armed with this function, be it internal or consultant-based, your business can get focused on sales and marketing alignment, processes, systems and technologies needed. And most importantly, every step of the way you can ask yourself – will this help our customers?


    Ricky Abbott

    President, Americas, Transmission


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