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Market Voice 30 Nov 2020 - 2 min read

Sales and marketing leaders have their priorities all wrong: here's why

By Kevin Ackhurst - Regional Director, HubSpot ANZ

Everyone knows Covid has changed the way we do business, but it appears senior sales and marketing leaders are yet to grasp the implications. Our research suggests they are ranking CX barely higher than admin in their list of priorities. That’s a costly mistake they can make only once.

The playing field changed, and as a result, customers have never been in more control than they are right now. To better understand how customers and sales leaders are reacting to the pandemic, we conducted research to dig a bit deeper. The research revealed, unsurprisingly, that more than half (58%) of consumers agree brands need to find new ways to engage with them as a result of the pandemic.


In trying times, CX is more important than ever

In lieu of physical stores and face-to-face communication, consumers are craving a stronger sense of connection to the companies they’re interacting with. They hold power now. If the recent $4 billion ecommerce boom demonstrated anything, it’s that consumers are now spoilt for choice — they have a huge number of options to choose from, and, in many cases, the ability to make touchless purchases. It’s critical then, that their experience with brands, throughout the entire process, not just selling, is exceptional, seamless and intuitive.

However, when we asked sales decision makers what they are ranking in terms of priority, revenue generation came in at the top spot, with nearly 40 per cent ranking this as the number one priority. In second place was measuring and improving the customer experience (CX) at 15 per cent — closely followed by admin at 14 per cent, which is scary in itself. This begs the question: are businesses and sales leaders being shortsighted in prioritising revenue generation over the CX when more than 80% of companies who prioritise CX also report an increase in revenue?

Buzzword or not, your CX is what sets you apart from the crowd. The saying “it’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell” has never reigned more true. Our research evidenced this, with 83 per cent of consumers agreeing CX impacts their likelihood to purchase with a particular brand, with this being more important for Gen Z and Millennials than for Baby Boomers.

Add to this that customers will spend nearly 20 per cent more if the experience is good, the competitive advantage is crystal clear. So, why are the businesses that are prioritising CX winning, you ask? It’s all part of the flywheel; they’re getting repeat purchases, word-of-mouth referrals and are building brand ambassadors because the experience is that good.


Where do sales teams fit in? Do we care?!

Selling isn’t easy during a pandemic, however, it’s a crucial time for sales teams to be building relationships. We often underappreciate the role salespeople play in the CX journey. They are usually one of the first touchpoints with consumers, and set the tone for their entire experience with your business.

Our research found that almost all (98 per cent) sales leaders personally believe that the sales process is important to the customer experience, yet only 15 per cent rank it as their number one priority. It’s clear there is a disconnect here between what sales leaders, and business leaders for that matter, are stating as important versus what’s happening on the ground day-to-day. The intent may be there, but the execution is not.

Sales and marketing are two of the most customer-facing functions in any organisation. However, our research tells us businesses are getting it wrong when it comes to priorities. Take sales enablement as an example; many organisations view sales enablement as serving only the sales team and whilst that’s true to some extent — the sales enablement function really exists to improve the customer experience. When sales enablement is viewed through this lens, you start to set goals that have a positive impact on both your business and the customer experience; which go hand in hand.

Success is less about the alignment of sales and marketing, and more about optimising teams to work in ways that work best for the customer — not the business.


A new frontier

For business leaders, this data is a strong reminder of the growing disconnect that’s emerging between leaders ideals versus reality. But if we’re to mend this gap, it needs to start from the top. We can no longer say we deliver great customer experiences, without listening to customers, measuring it, and providing sales and marketing teams with the tools and skills to do just that. When was the last time you did any and all of these? If not, it’s time to start.


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