Mind the Gap: What’s Missing During the Customer’s Journey


Posted By Qvidian | Apr 19, 2013


How many times have you heard any of the following terms in say, the last week?

  • Sales & Marketing Alignment
  • Lead to Revenue
  • Managing the Customer’s Journey
  • Revenue Performance Management
  • Closing the Loop between Leads and Sales
  • Revenue Cycle Management

Run out of fingers to count on? Toes? Yeah, me too.

There is a lot of talk lately about aligning Sales and Marketing, and focusing on the customer’s experience; and for good reason. The only way to truly optimize the customer's experience is by creating a seamless transition between marketing and sales, and continuing the message through purchase. But the maddening thing I’ve found is that these two topics never quite seem to be part of the same conversation.

Aligning sales and marketing is never talked about with the customer's experience

I attended the Marketo User Summit (#MUS13) last week held in San Francisco, and thought it was a great event. Wonderful speakers, useful content, and a fun crowd. Jeremiah Owyang, analyst and partner at Altimeter Group, was the keynote at the event - and I was thrilled to finally see him speak after following him on Twitter and reading his blog all these years!

He asked a great question to set up his presentation, “How can inflexible organizations synchronize with the changing customer?” I love how he phrased this question. He basically summed up our career challenges as Marketers in just one line!

He then went on to say, as customers are tuning out the noise of our traditional marketing efforts, it's imperative that we marketers adapt to a new, surround sound approach to Marketing - integrating the Paid, Owned, and Earned media into one Converged Media.

Converged Media

OK - I love it. That’s great from a marketing perspective. But if we’re focusing on the customer’s journey here, and closing the loop from lead to revenue, we’re missing a very important piece.

Another takeaway for me was the major presence of marketing analytics. Walking around the expo floor, I would venture to guess two-thirds of the vendors were big data/analytics vendors. All answering questions like: How do you prove marketing’s ROI? How do you track lead generation spend to closed deals? I love what marketing analytics provide—couldn’t do my job without it. We measure impressions, click-thrus, conversions, MQLs, SQLs, opportunities, wins/losses, and a plethora of other data points. We’re really good at measuring the “funnel” and the pipeline. But what about in between?

I love being a marketer at this point in time; able to watch the industry and practice evolve and grow. There are so many new tools and cool ways to reach our audiences. But in all these conversations on lead to revenue and managing the customer journey, we are missing one critical piece - the customer's experience with sales.


The Gap in the Customer Journey

Marketing spends a lot of time understanding the target market - researching, listening and learning. We create buyer personas to build messages that resonate with individuals to educate our prospects and customers, making them aware of our unique ability to solve their pain and make their lives better. They become engaged, and want more - so they talk to a sales rep.

And then the science of marketing is boiled down to identifying “hot” leads and “interesting moments” to plug into a CRM for sales to take over. We then leave the customer experience to the hands of an individual who is left to their own devices to determine how to engage and communicate. It’s unfair to the sales rep and unfair to the business!

To be clear, I’m not saying all reps are lost at this point, or that they aren’t doing the right things. It’s just... how do we know? Our measurement of their success is if the deal closed or not. That’s it. Black and white. But we don’t really have visibility into their engagement with the customer to know exactly why that deal closes (or doesn’t close).

Marketing arms sales teams with cheat sheets, talking points, slide decks, data sheets, and any other tool you think of to help them continue the conversation and provide value to the customer during their engagement. And that’s the key factor - providing value. CEB research shows that:

  • 57% of the customers decision making process is happening before they engage with sales (i.e. with marketing), and
  • 53% of the time it’s the experience with sales that drives customer purchase and loyalty (not product, value, or brand)

So how do you know what’s happening once you pass that prospect on to sales? Are they using your tools? How are you measuring effectiveness?

I’m surprised of how little talk there is about this issue! One recent article in Forbes begins to put it in perspective, “Sales and Marketing Alignment Begins with the Customer.” Christine Crandell crafts an excellent story from the most important perspective—the customer’s. But even that just begins to talk about the issue, and not any solution.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue in the Comments below.

Do you feel you have good visibility into sales’ engagement with prospects and customers? Do you think you have a good picture of the entire customer journey?

Mind the Gap

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