B2B buyer experiences are light years behind B2C. As consumers, our expectations of a consumer experience are set at a high bar by CX visionaries like Apple and Amazon. Those same consumers head into a B2B purchasing decision and immediately lower their expectations of a B2B customer experience. Imagine receiving cold calls to get you to buy a phone you’ve shown little or no interest in? Or perhaps instead of walking into a store and purchasing a phone, you have to fill out a form, wait days to get a response back, only to have a meeting scheduled where someone is assessing your qualifications to own a phone.
As crazy as these examples may seem, this is the exact diversion of experiences given to many B2B purchasing stakeholders. B2B companies are faced with complex sales cycles that can last years and come with a long list of stakeholders. On top of all this, they’re managing a vast array of channels and cross-department alliances. It’s no wonder we struggle to provide the same simplistic, modern, and personalized experience that’s commonplace for B2C.
So how do B2B companies elevate their buyer lifecycle to enable customer interactions that align with their heightened expectations? In part 1 of our content series, we discussed how you can effectively use marketing attribution and marketing automation to optimize your B2B customer journeys. Here, in part 2 of our content series dedicated to improving B2B customer journeys; we’ll break down the critical components to rethink your customer journey map.
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Are you noticing a pattern here? We’re not just repurposing this content; it all really does come down to organizational alignment. This means strengthening cross-departmental alliances to create a customer experience that transcends organizational silos, rather than illuminating them. This will also require coming to a shared vision of success by aligning key decision-makers to the bigger goals, and reaching a consensus on success metrics and measurement strategies.
B2B organizations may find it helpful to appoint members to a lifecycle review board, which is responsible for driving workshop sessions, documenting agreed-upon definitions, service level agreements (SLAs), and rules of engagement. This board is also on the hook for improving processes, training, and protocol post-go-live. When selecting members, consider at least one representative from each of these areas:
- Revenue analytics
- Inside sales
- Marketing operations
- Sales operations
- Project management
Before we dive into lead scoring, let’s think back to that cold call we got about a phone. This is a good example of what not to do. When you create a lead score, consider creating a model made up of behavior and demographic scores. Demographic score allocates points for desirable qualities of a person or their organization. Behavior score allocates points for engaging with your brand.
Lead scoring should always be created with input from both marketing and sales teams. Analysts can also help you to identify common traits or behaviors of your target audience from past deal cycles to shed light on activities and attributes that may indicate a higher propensity to buy.
Once you’ve got a solid scoring model in place, you can start to evaluate more mature models, like predictive scoring.
Defined Escalation Protocol
Once your organization is aligned on the stages of your lifecycle and the scores that can move them through the top of the funnel and into the middle, you’re ready to talk SLAs. These are cross-departmental agreements on the time allowed for someone to take action on a prospect or customer, who has reached a time-sensitive stage in their journey. Popular SLA stages include marketing qualified and sales qualified, as these are stages where the owner changes from one group, like marketing to inside or outside sales.
While SLAs are a great way to boost accountability, things happen and not every prospect gets the timely follow-up they deserve. Instead of sacrificing that customer’s experience, preemptively agree upon an escalation protocol that is to be followed when an SLA is exceeded. While there may be some cases where SLA infractions indicate a training opportunity, these are more likely to salvage conversations when a territory owner is unexpectedly offline.
For example, you may decide that an SLA allows for half a business day before follow-up is required. Consider automating a reminder when the SLA is exceeded to also include the owner’s manager, or a peer who can keep the conversation rolling.
Many B2B marketers are too familiar with the struggles that come along with aligning processes across departments. While these conversations can be riddled with political landmines, the long-term benefit of strengthening these alliances will help you well beyond your customer journey mapping. Use these connections to take the next steps to customer experience optimization by inviting them to participate in creating an engagement architecture, or formalizing your targeted account strategy. Your solutions will be more holistic and will surely benefit from a diverse set of perspectives.
About TA Digital
TA Digital is the only global boutique agency that delivers the “best of both worlds” to clients seeking to achieve organizational success through digital transformation. Unlike smaller, regional agencies that lack the ability to scale or large organizations that succumb to a quantity-over-quality approach, we offer resource diversity while also providing meticulous attention to the details that enable strategic success.
Over the past 20 years, TA Digital has positioned clients to achieve digital maturity by focusing on data, customer-centricity, and exponential return on investment; by melding exceptional user experience and data-driven methodologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we enable digital transformations that intelligently build upon the strategies we set into motion. We are known as a global leader that assists marketing and technology executives in understanding the digital ecosystem while identifying cultural and operational gaps within their business – ultimately ushering organizations toward a more mature model and profitable digital landscape.
Recognized in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2020 Inc. 5000 list as one of the most successful technology companies in the United States, TA Digital is pleased also to share high-level strategic partnerships with world class digital experience platform companies like Adobe, SAP, Acquia, and Salesforce and possess global partnerships with industry leaders such as commercetools, Sitecore, Episerver, Elastic Path, BigCommerce, AWS, Azure and Coveo.