“Delighting the customer” is a popular mantra in firms dealing with the rapid evolution of the sales process. Technology has empowered buyers of all kinds – from B2B to consumer markets – to move themselves through the sales cycle. Taking a self-service approach, buyers discover new products online, research features, read reviews and even compare prices before engaging a sales rep.
When sales staff are finally allowed to join the process, they’re frequently playing catch up to figure out what a customer knows and where they are in the decision process. In fact, some studies show that many B2B buyers are two thirds of the way through a typical purchasing cycle before ever having a conversation with a supplier.
The later that first connection occurs, the less opportunity there is to influence buyer perceptions and build the relationships and trust required to win the deal. This is especially true in the B2B world where sales reps have traditionally been the ones to help customers navigate the path to purchase.
Which bring us back to delight.
How can you delight a customer you hardly know? If you can, does it even make a difference or is it simply too late to matter?
Delighting customers sounds like a good thing. Who wouldn’t want buyers to express delight about the quality of service, outstanding value and exceptional customer experience you provide?
If you think about it, delight is a transitory emotion, brought on by a positive but often unexpected, turn of events. How do you feel when you’re delighted? Euphoric? Giddy? Surprised? I picture a six-year old skipping around the yard upon receiving their first bike or a teenager who has just been asked to the prom. That’s delight.
This intense sense of satisfaction is difficult to sustain. Like anything we grow accustomed to, delight would lose its potency if it were a constant state, making the next emotional high harder to achieve.
Instead of aiming to create the ethereal “delight” experience, smarter executives target more enduring goals.
Delight Fades, Experience Endures
An optimal sales experience reaches deeper than delight to reinforce your brand and validate your buyer’s purchase decision. It continues to connect the value of a product or service to the positive emotions associated with the experience long after the purchase transaction is complete.
As a sales executive, how can you create a solid customer relationship and deliver experiences that etch brand affinity into the mind of your buyers? How can you encourage them to call on you first when considering a purchase?
There are a number of factors that contribute to a connected customer experience. I developed the SCORE model to illustrate five key dimensions of a customer relationship that lasts, adding value for both buyers and the companies they patronize.
SCORE stands for Sincere, Consistent, Organic, Relevant and Enduring. With these elements in mind, B2B sales representatives can focus on building long-term connections with customers, opening doors to sales conversations earlier in the process.
SCORE Stronger Customer Connections
5 key dimensions of a customer relationship that lasts:
Sincere: Customer interactions are not scripted or delivered with rote memorization in a cold and unfeeling way. While templates may be used for training purposes, employees ultimately internalize the corporate customer philosophy, delivering the ideal customer experience with sincerity and authenticity.
Consistent: A customer’s experience is consistent at every touch point: before, during and after the sale. Instead of a cookie-cutter, one-size fits all approach to sales, there is congruency across channels and departments in things like messaging, access to staff and business policies, reinforcing both the brand and its value to customers.
Organic: Good or bad, the character of a customer experience naturally emanates from deep within an organization. Interactions reflect internal attitudes and beliefs about how customers should be treated. From the bottom to the top, employees can articulate what’s distinctive about the way their company caters to customers.
Relevant: The corporate approach to customers is not a one-sided, take-it-or-leave proposition. It integrates buyers’ needs and desires, creating personalized experiences that are uniquely relevant to each customer. Customer interactions are flexible, tailored to the moment and the medium.
Enduring: Customer experience can be highly personal and intensely emotional, even in business-to-business environments. Customers often become passionate about brands, in a positive and negative way. Successful companies deliver more than delight, ensuring long-term satisfaction and memorable interactions.
Using the five dimensions of the SCORE model as a benchmark, sales teams can work with their internal peers in marketing, support and even product development to craft customer experiences that leave an indelible imprint on the minds of their customers.
At the same time, they can heighten their awareness of customer needs in these areas. Simple modifications to accommodate these needs in customer interactions go a long way towards cementing personal relationships on which so many sales depend.
A mutually beneficial relationship contributes to customer loyalty and retention, increasing repeat purchases and referrals, making the job of B2B sales easier and more efficient.
Rather than trying to delight customers in a moment that will soon be forgotten, equip your organization to SCORE a lasting impression instead.
Joellyn ‘Joey’ Sargent, principal of the Claravon Consulting Group, connects brand vision, organizational performance and customer experience, unlocking powerful momentum for growth. Her clarity, vision and insights help leaders achieve breakthrough results with Maximum Market Impact™. Learn more at Claravon.com or read Joey’s blog at JoeySargent.com.
©2013, Joellyn Sargent. All Rights Reserved.