During 2020, we all dealt with unprecedented change, both as customers making buying decisions and as B2B and B2C sales and marketing professionals working to engage prospects and customers in new ways. As we move deeper into 2021, we can all see that “a return to normal” is probably not on the horizon, so we need to define and strategize on our new normal for growth and loyalty. Customers can now buy anywhere and in-person relationships have changed dramatically. As a result, one of the critical concepts that companies are embracing and implementing is customer centricity.
At its core, customer centricity is:
- A driving cultural shift in how organizations view their customers
- Empowerment of employees to impact the customer experience
- Putting the customer at the heart of every business decision
What exactly is customer-centric selling?
Customer-centric selling has the same singular focus, connecting with and engaging prospects and customers throughout the customer journey. Embracing true customer-centric selling puts your sales and marketing team in the shoes of the prospects and customers at every step through the funnel. Customer-centric selling focuses completely on the needs, goals and challenges each individual customer is trying to solve. To achieve this, your sales and marketing teams must first learn to understand how current and prospective customers think and then build an evolving relationship based on that knowledge.
How do we achieve customer-centric selling?
Customer centricity requires both cultural and technological shifts in obtaining, managing and acting on customer feedback. People within customer-centric organizations are empowered to solve customer problems and always consider the customer impact of every decision. Customer-centric selling follows the same basic guidelines, incorporating cultural and technology changes throughout the buyer’s journey.
- One of the most important cultural shifts is empowering your sales and marketing teams to understand and feel empathy for the customer. This shift in thinking will always put the customer needs first. It also provides the foundation for any long-term relationship between a customer and the sales representative. Additionally, this perspective will strengthen your marketing messaging when the customer is always front and center.
- The next key step is integrating customer feedback into every step of the customer journey. This feedback can come from multiple places including existing customers – both new and long-term customers, customers in the buying process, and both won and lost deals. Putting the right voice of the customer technology in place and pulling that feedback together to create a seamless, continuous process, always responding when the customer is ready, is the definition of customer-centric selling.
- Constantly adapt and evolve your customer-centric selling program. If we think back to the way we made decisions a year ago, none of us could have predicted the decision-making models we’d have in place now. As the world and customer needs continue to evolve, customer-centric selling teams must continuously look to adapt to meet those changing situations. Customers who see that you understand their changing perspective will delight in those relationships.
- Customer-centric organizations always put the customer at the heart of every business decision. Customer-centric selling does the same thing through shared understanding. Throughout the buyer’s journey, the prospect should always feel completely aligned with the sales team. There should never be a situation where the customer is surprised and consequently disengaged. As customers, we’ve all had those situations that left us feeling disjointed and “sold.”
Moving from a traditional selling model to a customer-centric selling model gives you not only the flexibility to singularly focus on customer needs and build a long-term loyal relationship, but allows you to significantly impact their business. Making the right technological changes to collect critical prospect and customer feedback and making the right cultural shifts to act on that feedback will engage your sales and marketing team in customer-centric selling, building relationships and driving revenue growth through loyal customers. This has become a business imperative in today’s ever-changing world.
Mary Beth Addison is senior vice president of sales at Alchemer (formerly SurveyGizmo), a cloud-based integrated feedback platform that combines the best of survey software technology with an extensible architecture and low-code design that make it fast and easy for business users to integrate with other systems to put feedback at the core of everything they do.