Customer’s Journey Alignment Drives Performance – If Done The Right Way

If you plan a garden, you will probably consider your local climate zone, the availability of sun in your particular location, and the impact of wind and rain. You might also consider how much time you want to spend on this new project.

Based on that, a gardener can recommend certain trees, plants, and flowers that will flourish in your specific garden. Long story short: context matters.

In sales, it’s not different. The garden is like the customer’s journey. You want to make your salespeople successful gardeners. So they should simply know what to do in which garden to be successful.

Let’s look at some data. In our 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, we checked the level of sales process alignment to the customer’s journey.

Customer’s journey alignment is still a challenge, but the majority gets better.

 There is still a group of 9.4% that doesn’t consider the customer’s journey at all. Another 35.2% reported an informal alignment. This adds up to 44.6% who have not purposefully aligned their sales process to the customer’s journey. Then, 55.4% reported to have either a formal (27.7%) or dynamic (27.7%) alignment.

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An informal alignment means that the issue has been discussed and considered but not formally implemented. In many of the organizations we work with, we find that great effort has been made in customer journey mapping, frequently for different buying situations. But this mapping does not necessarily mean that sales processes have been adjusted or that there is a formal alignment or even implementation.

A dynamic alignment goes even further: either deriving the sales process from the customer’s journey or dynamically aligning it to the customer’s journey and implementing modifications as soon as changes in the marketplace are detected.

The better the customer’s journey alignment, the better the sales results – improving win rates by 15% and quota attainment by 13.6%. 

Win rate: Our study found an average win rate for forecast deals of 46.2%. With no alignment at all, the win rate went down to 40.5% which is 14% worse than the average. But with a formal or dynamic alignment, the win rate improved significantly—up to 53% which is an improvement by 15%.

Quota attainment: Our study found an average quota attainment of 55.8%. Having no alignment led to a quota attainment of 54.2% which is slightly below average. Interestingly, the informal and the formal alignment also led to 54.4%, which is also below average and is pretty much the same result as having no alignment. But a dynamic alignment led to 63.4%, which is an improvement of 13.6%.

Are there any sales leaders who can ignore the performance impact of a solid customer’s journey alignment?

Formal alignment can become a burden in very dynamic environments.

Customers’ needs and preferences are always changing, often only slightly but these changes are happening permanently. Having a formal alignment that’s only reviewed, once a year, for example, cannot really create sustainable value or competitive advantage. Instead, it might become a burden, as an alignment that was the right thing a few months ago, simply doesn’t represent the reality anymore. In this case, formal alignment forces salespeople into a certain process or iteration that doesn’t serve customer groups or specific buying scenarios anymore.

Your customer’s journey alignment has to become dynamic, step by step.

Assess the current state: The first thing to do is to assess the current state of your customer’s journey mapping and process alignment. Make sure to include various buying scenarios such as, for instance, renewal situations and solving a new business challenge for the first time.

Equip sales managers first: Then, check how informal or formal your alignment currently is. Make sure that your sales managers are fluent in all things related to customer’s journey alignment and coach their salespeople accordingly.

Enable salespeople accordingly: Make sure also that the enablement services (content and training) are tailored to your customer’s journey and buying situations.

Leverage analytics: Leverage analytics to check the effectiveness of the newly aligned sales process, and the effectiveness of the prospect and customer interactions. Only then can you implement mechanisms that ensure that adjustments are done as fast as they need to be.

Implementing a dynamic customer’s journey alignment requires lots of adaptive capabilities from both salespeople and those who build the sales system and enable the salesforce.

Questions for you:

Do you know your customers’ preferences regarding how to approach a challenge, how to buy, and how to use your products and services?

Do you know your customers’ different buying situations?

How do you reflect the customer’s journey in your internal processes?

How do you align your enablement services to the customer’s journey?

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