Early this June, I ran the Chicago Ragnar Relay Series, a grueling 200-mile race that started in Madison, Wisconsin, and ended in Chicago. Our team consisted of 12 runners from various departments within Kenshoo, two cargo vans, zero sleep, and unbelievable amounts of water, Gatorade, and Cliff Bars. The race was truly a team effort in which we all ran three or four segments from three to 10 miles in length to complete the 200-mile run. During the race, I couldn’t help but think of what a perfect metaphor it was for the challenge of winning and retaining customers in the B2B space.
What is unique about Ragnar, and also what makes it uniquely similar to winning and retaining customers, is that you do not run one section of the race and stop; you continue to stay involved by taking multiple legs through the more-than-30-hour process. This stop-and-start flow is the key element that is sometimes left out of our sales and client service thought process. Marketing efforts don’t end when the prospect becomes a qualified lead, a salesperson’s job isn’t done after the deal is signed, and client service doesn’t only end and begin within the strict confines of the agreement.
For the purposes of this column, let’s cover the not-so-obvious points where the sales, marketing, client service, and product development departments can help complete the race.
Of course your marketing team is in place to drive leads, publicize achievements, manage events, and create awareness, but are you involving your marketing department with current clients? If not, this is a huge miss. You should be tasking your marketing team with creating advocates for your product from your current client base. By leveraging your current customers, you are not only able to create short-term wins (case studies, testimonials, referrals), you are also building lifelong loyalty for your product. It’s very likely that many of our contacts will move around during the course of their career. Make sure that when your contact(s) leaves your current customer’s organization, they take a recommendation for the use of your product with them. Marketing should create an environment in which your customers feel communication brings value and provides them with insights in order to drive greater results.
Sure, they are closing deals, networking with prospects or clients, and often requesting a “favor” from internal departments. For the sales team, this is all in a day’s work. However, the sales team can be one of the most valuable resources to your marketing efforts by leveraging social media. Social selling should be an extension of your marketing. For example, Jill Rowley’s approach to social selling not only establishes her as trusted advisor in the marketing automation realm, but also has allowed her to build an audience that is exactly who her company wants to target. This audience wasn’t built by selling them a product; it was built through providing education and engaging with individuals on a one-to-one level. Addressing questions, issues, and challenges provided an opportunity for Jill to step in and provide solutions. The connections made through social interactions have the potential to be your next prospect with whom you have now created a personal connection that can create a subconscious loyalty. Your sales team should not only work to open doors and close deals, but should be educating and engaging in the marketplace at an individual level.
This team is on the front lines, building trust with your client base and advising on how to best utilize your product. This group can make or break your organization. They are also a hugely valuable asset that can help drive your sales and marketing efforts given the right platform and voice. In many cases, these are the people that are the closest to both the product and the clients. This gives them a unique understanding of the challenges and solutions that can be leveraged to drive our business forward. Make sure your client service team has a seat at the product and messaging table.
These are experts in your organization on the features and benefits of your product. Their contribution and role in the company is irreplaceable. They are not only working to develop the product, but they are also actively involved with prospects in clients. This level of engagement is fantastic. However, they also have a unique vantage point to provide predictive insights on future market needs that can help you shape your upcoming marketing campaigns. The product team feedback should be pointed to marketing in order to create content and soften the market for future solutions you are developing.
In order to win as an organization, you need all departments working together to create accountability and an atmosphere of moving toward a common goal. During the Ragnar relay, it wasn’t possible for someone to say “that isn’t my responsibility” or “that isn’t a priority.” We needed to cross the finish line as a team and we all stepped up in one way or another to make it happen. Your teams and individual contributors should have the same mentality. You will win or lose as a team – don’t let siloed departments stop your progress.
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