One of the biggest reminders that sales is changing in midmarket companies is that customers have much, much higher expectations now. Buyers don’t just want a more personalized approach - they really are beginning to demand that from marketing and sales.
Think about it – you sign up for and pay to attend an event. After you receive your confirmation of payment and a thank you, you notice that you still are getting emails that encourage you to sign up. This is one thing that really drives me crazy. As a customer, I want the event organizers to recognize me as having signed up and I want to get special emails directed just to those of us who put our money down, don’t you?
The bar has been set by service-oriented companies and there is no turning back. Others need to catch up to give a higher level of service and better user experience.
A more personal user experience and connecting with customers in better ways were the focus and themes throughout the recent Smarter Commerce Worldwide Summit hosted by IBM. Customers, partners, prospective customers and employees from around the world participated in a huge but fantastic event. There were more than 200 sessions to help leaders from business and those engulfed in technology learn the latest in providing an optimum customer experience.
In addition to many product and technical sessions there were some extremely helpful sessions from experts within the social web. I particularly enjoyed the presentation on Twitter and User Engagement: Why Content is Still King When Building a Killer Social Presence by Karen Wickre. Karen, Editorial Director at Twitter is known online as @kvox and it was the first time I have seen her in person. I am always relieved a bit when I see someone over 40 who not only has mastered social but also is a leader on the social web.
Craig Hayman, General Manager, IBM Industry Solutions said at the conference that the new Chief Executive Customer expects “companies to respect their time, preferences, values, and privacy. Meeting these expectations requires insight, innovation and a system of engagement that delivers an intelligent guided customer experience at every touchpoint.”
Companies are now going to have to find ways to get all of their data – from their accounting systems to CRM to customer service to procurement working all together to analyze the customer experience and find ways to enhance it. Marketers can replace best guesses with factual information (analytics) courtesy of data their technology team will be offering up dissected and interpreted thanks to new tools being used now.
You can't attend a conference like this and not walk away with such big ideas in revolutionizing customer service and support. Could lack of good data, as well as context, be the missing link in how companies can play nicer with their customers and prospective customers? Can the Fortune 1000 examples really translate to mom & pop, as well as the millions of SMBs and small mid-market companies?
Intelligent-guided marketing is at work so as buyers we can expect that soon we’ll be able to lay out a request of what it is exactly that we desire, and expect within minutes or even seconds to receive offers for our specific needs. I cannot wait for that day. As sellers, are you ready for it?
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for tips and strategies.