According to McKinsey, "the digital revolution has transformed once-predictable consumer purchasing paths into a more circular pattern of touch points, so too business-to-business selling has become less linear as customers research, evaluate, select, and share experiences about products. More people within (and, thanks to digital engagement, even outside) the organization are playing pivotal roles in sizing up offerings, so the path to closing sales has become more complicated."
How should marketing and sales adapt?
Marketing and sales must understand the buyer journey and deliver services that have value independent of a purchase. They must make the customer better at who they are attempting to be and what they are want to accomplish at each stage.
Shifting to service based sales and marketing requires two things:
- Regular customer research to understand the evolving customer journey from the buyers perspective.
- Development of sales and marketing tools mapped to buyer needs during each stage of their journey
Designing services requires an understanding of every interaction a customer has with the products or services a company provides, including those interactions that happen on the periphery. The research must include both qualitative and quantitative exploration and data must include the customers perspective of their own experience.
Sales and Marketing Mapping
The research will surface patterns in what the customer needs and wants at each touchpoint. Tools like needs/values based personas, customer journey maps and influencer maps are powerful ways to visualize the buyer journey and identify gaps that are opportunities to provide valuable services.
Where has service driven advertising and marketing succeeded?
Hubspot, an inbound marketing and sales platform, is one of the best service based marketing companies. They produce tools like Marketing Grader that help marketers asses their website’s marketing capability and they produce hundreds of how to blogs and ebooks that any marketer can use to get better.
Home Depot doesn't just market flooring products. They produce high quality videos that teach you how to use flooring products to achieve professional results, enabling the novice to become the master craftsperson. The videos are the marketing that drives sales by making their customers better at what they want to be.
Aspenware, a US based software development firm, developed a template for project mangers to use earned value management on their enterprise software development projects. The tool is downloaded over ten times per week, significantly better performance than any case study or whitepaper. The template helped potential customers better manage projects and provided a source of potential new leads.
A final note about designing services
Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is a powerful tool for understanding the customer experience from their own perspective. You can find tools for creating your own journey map at A (Not So) Comprehensive List of Digital Customer Journey Mapping Tools. If you want to get started but can't do it on your own consider hiring us for a Buyer Journey Mapping engagement.