Customer experience is increasingly a key differentiator in acquiring and retaining customers. But, too often, we look at customer experience in a very narrow way, we think of it as their experience in using our products, after they have purchased them.
The customer experience begins long before the first purchase a customer makes. Of course we know the reputation of our company, products, and solutions is important and influences them.
But our marketing and sales prospecting approaches create are the very first direct impressions our prospects get of their potential experience with the company.
For example, just today, I got a prospecting email:
We work with companies like CenturyLink, RingCentral, Vonage, Iron Mountain etc and have shown an average sales conversion increase of 21%.
Our data is highly accurate and actionable – leads custom targeted and uploaded directly to your CRM.
Do you have some time for a discovery call this week?
It’s a terrible prospecting letter for a number of reasons, but the thing that caught my eye was the references to CenturyLink, RingCentral and the other companies. I thought, “Those are impressive references, but why are the relevant to me? Our business and target customers are very different. Our engagement strategies are very different…….”
Presumably, the sales person was trying to increase his credibility with the impressive customer list, but the sales person wasn’t creating a compelling or relevant experience for me.
Out of curiosity, I visited the web site, most people would have trashed the email, but since sales effectiveness is my business, I often dive into bad prospecting efforts to understand them.
Opening the web site, I’m greeted by the banner, “Stop Discovering, Start Selling….” They go on to describe, that they do all the heavy lifting in doing the research on leads, so all the sales person has to do is to start closing “warm B2B leads.”
Hmmm, I think, if that’s what they do, why aren’t they doing it in their own prospecting approaches?
Scroll down a little, I’m hit with the following headlines:
Make account-based marketing easy
Know first when your target is ready to buy
Don’t get sabotaged by stale data
Declare an end to endless research
All great and very important things to any organization that want to do high impact prospecting within their Ideal Customer Profile.
But I reflect, if they do those things and claim they produce huge impact on the effectiveness of the marketing and prospecting programs for their customers, is their prospecting approach to me representative of what their solutions do when their customers are using them.
Nothing in the prospecting letter seemed to support any of the claims they make in their prospecting approaches.
Curious, I explored more of their web site. I discovered their sweet spot: Telecom/Unified Communications, Cloud/IT, Cybersecurity, Commercial Real Estate. I, also learned among other things, they were experts in determining buyer signals, providing targeted and quality leads.
At this point I’m perplexed. If that’s their sweet spot, and their solution is focused on targeting the right customers, producing high quality leads the sales person only has to close, then why am I getting a prospecting email? Our company is about as far from those industries as one can imagine. Yes, many of our customers are in those segments, but we are a boutique professional services company. That’s not in what they say is their sweet spot?
Everything they were doing, at least in their prospecting approach to me, was totally inconsistent with their positioning and claims at the web site. Consequently, my experience was probably the opposite of what they intended. Rather than creating interest and provoking me to get more deeply engaged, the more I looked at it the more my experience was completely the opposite of what they were trying to achieve.
Stated differently, everything they did in prospecting to me was exactly the opposite of what the value the claimed I would get if I subscribed to their service to help my prospecting.
This isn’t an isolated example. I’ve written before that sales and marketing automation/tools companies are among the worst prospecting companies I’ve experienced.
But going beyond this, I’m sure this sales person, as do too many, didn’t realize that everything he did created impressions of the company and product. For those to be meaningful, they have to be consistent with the experience we are trying to create, the positioning and the value we want customers to perceive. Any inconsistency, actually creates the opposite effect and makes it much more difficult to engage the customer.
Customer experience encompasses the totality of our experience with a company. It’s their reputation, it’s how they present themselves, it’s how engage us in marketing, at their web sites, selling, and when we use their products. Anything inconsistent creates confusion and uncertainty in the minds of customers and prospects.
Afterword: I’m not blaming the sales person in this example. Unfortunately, he’s just executing on a program and list that marketing has given him, and that his manager is telling him to do. It’s too bad they are giving him the things that make him look bad.