When it comes to B2B sales and marketing, old habits die hard. And it’s a shame, because while the traditional sales process has been slow to change, consumers—enabled by new technology—have evolved quickly.

Many B2C brands are already delivering inspiring customer experiences. So, why haven’t B2B brands caught up, especially when technology makes so much possible?

b2b_customer_experience_tiffani_bovaThat’s what Tiffani Bova, Global, Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, recently came to Influitive’s HQ to discuss.

twitter_tweet_this_icon Tweet this: “Increasingly, the experience is the product.” -Tiffani Bova

For B2B brands to gain a competitive edge, they need to treat improving the customer experience like a game of hockey, and think about where the puck is going to be, not where it is now, says Tiffani (quoting Wayne Gretzky).

Read below for a summary of Tiffani’s talk. In it, you’ll learn how companies that want to get up to speed must change their organizational focus and make more deliberate choices when it comes to the B2B customer experience.

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How to bring teams together for a seamless B2B customer experience

As customers move from your marketing, to sales, to customer service teams, their experience is often disjointed. And when you let a customer down, it can cost you decreased customer loyalty, missed quotas, wasted resources, churn, and more.

twitter_tweet_this_icon Tweet this: “Customers are getting the exact experience you intentionally or unintentionally designed for them.” -Tiffani Bova

So what’s the key to delivering a stellar B2B customer experience? It comes from internal alignment between your sales, marketing, and customer service teams. “My brand is the sum of all my customers’ touch points,” says Tiffani. No single team can own all of them. Getting these teams on the same page is the key to delivering the personalization and convenience customers crave.

Tiffani suggests starting by having interconnected metrics. Often, marketing is looking to drive leads, sales is concerned with hitting quotas, and customer service is trying to resolve issues and get customers off the phone as quickly as possible—none of which inspire teams to work together towards creating a consistent customer experience. Tiffani suggests brands start using customer experience KPIs to measure their success, instead of traditional sales metrics.

Make sure you have systems in place to collect and unearth customer data that can help your teams understand customer needs so you can show them individual attention. Then put that data to good use. “Many people will say ‘Data is the new oil.’ But oil will not power a car. So if data is the new oil, analytics is the new refinery, and intelligence is the new gasoline,” says Tiffani. “Data for data’s sake is just pulling oil out of the ground. You’ve got to refine it a lot—with analytics.”

Leverage customer love to fuel word of mouth

Brands like Uber and Starbucks have mastered UX and CX. They make purchasing easy, remember theirs customers’ habits, and anticipate what they’ll want next. And that thinking has helped them naturally drive growth through positive word of mouth, without having to coax customers into providing strong referrals.

twitter_tweet_this_icon Tweet this: “Your best sales force is your customers advocating on your behalf.” -Tiffani Bova

If B2B brands want to drive word of mouth, they need to stop thinking about selling to a company, and start selling to individual people. “You’re still selling to a person who works at a business, and that person is still a consumer in their personal life. They have expectations for they way in which they’re going to engage with you,” says Tiffani. “The cheque might come from a corporation; you’re still selling to an individual user.” You must start thinking about B2B as B2C2B. When you exceed the expectations of that individual, they will be happy to talk about their experience with you—unprompted.

Conclusion: be intentional and emotional

Mere satisfaction isn’t enough. You need to create a real emotional connection with your customers, says Tiffani.

This can only happen when you invest time and resources in repeatedly meeting and exceeding customer needs. From prospect, to new customer, to loyal user, you need to think all the way through the customer process, to guide them towards becoming an advocate.

“The more you can help your customers thrive, the stronger your relationship will become,” says Tiffani.

Consciously turn your brand into a customer-focused organization. Tiffani recommends asking yourself often, “Why are we doing it this way?” If the only reason is because you’ve always done it that way, that’s not good enough. Always look through the lens of how the customer wants to engage with you, so you can be waiting up ahead to greet them.

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