What do the Bee Gees, primary colors, tricycles, and some little pigs have in common?
The answer is, of course – the number three.
Some really good things, no – some really great things come in threes. The same is true when we speak about the importance of creating alignment between marketing and sales. Integrate those two and you are moving in the right direction, but add the customer success team into the mix too, and you’ve unleashed the ability to unify communication and engagement across all phases of the customer lifecycle, creating a winning team trifecta.
Understanding the Modern Buyer
Over the past decade or so, it’s undeniable that there has been a radical shift in the relationship between businesses and their customers. The modern buyer is empowered and informed, and expects businesses to engage with them in real-time, across multiple channels, with a highly personalized experience. Companies who successfully adapt to this change understand the need for implementing collaborative efforts between all three customer-facing teams: marketing, sales, and customer success.
The goal: Build meaningful, mutually beneficial, trusted, lasting relationships with customers.
But building such fruitful relationships requires efforts that go well beyond the sale. To be successful, it is vital that the company appreciate (and leverage) the untapped opportunity that lies in customer retention and relationship expansion. Econsultancy and many others have published studies showing that keeping a customer is much less expensive that acquiring a new one.
Gone are the Days of “One and Done” Customer Lifecycle Marketing
If your marketing efforts stop the minute the deal is sealed, you’re missing a huge opportunity to turn your buyers into shout-your-praises-from-the-rooftops advocates. Expending effort to onboard, continue to educate, engage, and support your customers will pay off in more consistent revenue (investors love that), more profitable revenue, referral business, and advocacy. These inspired, loyal advocates will share the love of your brand with their circles of influence, engaging and exciting future customers on your behalf.
According to a Forbes article, a Gartner Group study shows that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. Numbers like that are difficult to ignore –and shouldn’t be– so take the time to decide how best to invest in that later stage of the lifecycle, and turn it into a beautiful friendship.
But how do you integrate your customer-facing departments to create that amplification?
Here are four key ways to integrate these three, too-often siloed, teams to realize the full potential of your customer relationships:
- Ultimately, a successful customer experience relies on the company culture. There needs to be buy-in from the CEO on down. The CMO should lead the charge to consider the customer experience through each touch point, but each customer-facing team needs to seamlessly work together towards the common goal of consistency.
- These three customer-facing teams all need to work from a shared, single view of the customer’s history with your company – their purchases, preferences, communications, and any other relevant information.
- The customer needs to perceive interactions to be personalized and highly individualized. This requires coordination between the trio of customer-facing teams to share the information that enables personalization, and an agreement about who is responsible for connecting when.
- Use behavior-based communications, e.g., email trigger campaigns, effectively to employ personalized and targeted segmentation and communication strategies.
In order to successfully deploy these tactics, you need a team effort with each part of the trifecta bringing their specific skills and talents to the table. Because marketing is the only piece (of the trio) that stewards communication during each phase of the customer lifecycle, it’s a natural candidate to foster the integration process. Marketing can and should provide both the strategic leadership and vital technology to ensure success.
Implement the Right Marketing Technologies to Get the Right Results
When contemplating cross-team alignment, there are two core technologies that are essential to achieving desired results.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): This software is typically owned by sales.
- Marketing Automation (MA): This software typically owned by marketing.
Both of these systems contribute the data that allows your company to assimilate a full and accurate picture of a customer’s purchases, communications, interactions, and preferences. Both technologies are absolutely necessary to providing every stakeholder across the trio a single view of each individual customer when they reach out to engage, no matter where they are in the customer lifecycle.
Beyond those basic technologies, each department will have favorite best-of-breed tools. Again, marketing is the through-line, providing the tech platform that makes integration of these other supporting systems a breeze. Integration of the data flows provides easy, consistent, 360-degree visibility across teams of your customers’ activities, interests, and inclinations.
The Big Take-Away
Integration of your customer-facing teams will require effort and perhaps even new technology. But the payoff is beyond just effective collaboration; it’s having the ability for every department to put the customer at the center of the experience.
So remember: some great things come in threes. If you’re contemplating alignment – remember that you can go beyond sales and marketing and incorporate your customer success teams. You’ll be rewarded with powerful, long-term revenue growth as you build your loyal army of brand advocates!