SiriusDecisions’ Bob Peterson Makes The Customer Experience/Advocacy Connection

Last week, Influitive took a summer road trip to hang out with over 150 smart marketers at Chicago’s 1871, the entrepreneurial hub for digital start-ups.

How To Be Customer Obsessed In B2B, co-hosted with Gainsight, featured a number of expert speakers including Bob Peterson, Research Director at SiriusDecisions; Anthony Kennada, VP of Marketing at Gainsight; Eric Marcy, VP of Demand Generation and Marketing Operations at SAVO; and Mark Organ, Influitive’s very own founder and CEO.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be bringing you their hard-won-through-experience insights about why customer obsession is more important than ever in B2B. This post brings you the wisdom of Bob Peterson. His presentation slides can also be found below.

SiriusDecisions’ Bob Peterson Makes The Customer Experience/Advocacy Connection

SiriusDecisionsBob Peterson remembers the really old days of marketing. Back when buyers were dependent on brochures and sales reps to evaluate products and services.

When Vidal Sassoon produced upscale hair products and proclaimed what could be the mantra of today’s advocate marketing: “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”

Ten years ago, the buyer’s journey was a prescribed and documented process involving long lead times, lots of paper, and meeting after meeting with executives of increasing levels of responsibility, he explained.

As online research, case studies, white papers and access to knowledgeable peers become easier to obtain, today’s buyer journey looks nothing like it did a decade ago.

Today, 65% of the journey happens online – before handshakes at trade shows or receipt of expensive marketing collateral. More than ever before, the remaining 35% of a buyer’s time spent with a potential vendor is critical to successful customer advocacy.

Focusing on customer experience is the key to growth

SiriusDecisions surveyed B2B companies seeking insight into customer experience and growth. Respondents were asked for their forecasted growth rate.

SiriusDecisions’ Bob Peterson Makes The Customer Experience/Advocacy Connection

Of the 400 companies that responded, those that predicted 10% or higher growth rates were segmented in “high growth.” Those predicting under 10% were considered “average growth.”

“According to the study,” Bob shared, “it shows a clear link between higher growth and the presence of a customer experience function with the proper focus and investment.”

Make someone responsible for the customer experience, and growth rates tend to increase.

Among the B2B companies surveyed:

  • 54% of those with a customer experience function plan to grow more than 10% this year
  • 82% of those high-growth companies have a Chief Customer Officer
  • 74% of the high-growth companies with a CCO make the that executive accountable for revenue growth from existing customers

Bob continued, “compared to their average-growth peers, high-growth companies see improvement in critical areas more often.” These critical areas include revenue growth, retention rates, higher loyalty scores, and high customer profitability.

Strategically, financially and operationally, it makes sense to implement a strong customer experience program.

5 secrets of successful customer advocacy teams

To ensure your customers are happy, make lead generation for subsequent sales easier, and improve financial results, Bob suggested the following secrets of successful teams:

SiriusDecisions’ Bob Peterson Makes The Customer Experience/Advocacy Connection1. Customer advocacy is a strategic, planned contribution

Advocacy must be a part of your strategic initiatives, operationally and financially planned, and measured. It’s not a “shiny object” method of slapdash marketing.

2. Customer advocacy is about making the customer a hero

Your primary driver for the process is fanatic obsession with your customer’s success. Advocating for you is a by-product of this driver.

3. Advocacy is linked to financial impact

Yes, strategically making your customer successful makes sense. Well beyond that, your customer’s desire to advocate for your business drives your lead generation and financial growth. During the planning process, create models that demonstrate financial impact, and operate accordingly.

4. Sourcing advocacy is an art and a science

Look to clients with long histories of success partnering with you. Consider your client’s personalities and approach those clients that would enjoy the process.

5. Technology helps advocacy scale

So invest in it!

As Bob said, “Customer advocacy is your UNFAIR competitive advantage!” Every company has the ability to use customer advocacy as a vital part of their marketing strategy, but few are.

If you obsess over your customers to ensure success, you will have an unfair advantage over your competitors.


Photo credits: James Schmitt