Closing deals and driving revenue has been at the top of the agenda since the dawn of commerce. However, the sense of urgency and bewilderment about how to grow a company is at an all time high. As I recently blogged, experiments with Chief Revenue Officers have largely failed with the burden for revenue falling, historically, most heavily on sales, even if sometimes unfairly.
Today that is turning into a game of hot-potato between sales, marketing, and now Finance. The top issue for CFOs is how to increase sales and drive revenue innovation down the organization. You know there’s a problem when the CFO is being looked to for answers on how to increase revenue.
It’s never been clear who should take a leadership role in this new sector of customer experience. Customer experience leads to revenue, but it’s intensely cross-departmental and crosses a wide spectrum of roles and responsibilities. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that increasingly Sales is taking a leadership role in the customer’s lifetime experience.
Sales development, inside sales and overlay sales teams are all losing revenue productivity because customers go around, avoid or ignore them. Traditional sales methodologies are an artifact of the old-world that have languished for far too long. They hamstring sales in developing the types of relationships that today’s customers will pay extra for. More and more of sales management is ready to make the transformation, take the leap and reinvent themselves, and lead their entire organization to become a customer-aligned business that can better attract and retain customers.
Many sales leaders feel they have no choice but to take up the chalice for customer experience. Ultimately they are on the hook for revenues and if managing the customer experience will help them hit their targets, then roles and responsibilities be damned. The buck inevitably stops with Sales anyway.
Maybe it’s not fair. Marketing should share responsibility for revenues and customer experience, but in a recent Eloqua whitepaper only nine percent of marketers surveyed felt customer experience was the most important measurement of their ROI. Marketing has always struggled in taking ownership for revenue and strategy. It keeps too close to its comfort zone of branding. Maybe Support should take more responsibility for customer’s lifetime experience, but that department is usually staffed with technical, rather than business, experts and measured on the speed of ‘one-and-done’ instead of persistent satisfaction and engagement.
So it falls to you Sales. Whether you like it or not, to deliver on the revenue targets you’re beholden to. You’ll need to lead the entire organization to a customer-centric approach; sponsor research on the buyer’s journey, use your customer relationships to understand how the definition of value evolves over time, get the rest of your peers to change their ways to consistently deliver that value, and transform your own cold-callers into relationship stewards.
A VP of Sales told me yesterday that he wasn’t relishing telling his CEO to throw out their entire way of doing business. He doesn’t have to – at least not all at once. Evolution takes time, but unlike in nature, business evolution often runs stagnant without a structured and purposeful approach.
Has your Sales organization grabbed the customer experience mantle?