Sales and the Customer Experience

Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
A common theme in many sales organizations these days is rethinking the sales process to make it easier for customers to buy.

A common theme in many sales organizations these days is rethinking the sales process to make it easier for customers to buy. That evolution, of course, includes providing the training and support salespeople need to improve their customer interactions.

One company focused on how sales impacts the customer experience is Arrow Electronics. During a panel discussion at AchieveGlobal's The Future of Sales Effectiveness briefing earlier this week, Joe Cataldo, senior director of talent management and development at Arrow Electronics, shared some insight into the company's approach to helping its sales organization deliver an optimal customer experience.On partnering:
Our customers, like yours, are dealing with more complexity. What we do as a sales organization is to act as a partner. So, for us, that means getting salespeople to get close to customers so they can get to know them and their needs--well enough to predict what they'll need before they even know they need it....

We've historically focused on design and production; now we're trying to help with legacy products and aftermarket. We can help customers on the back end, and they may not have realized that, so it's up to us to let them know.

On listening:
Arrow was using multiple reps to deal with each of our customers, when in actuality, what customers wanted was a single point of contact. We were making it too hard to buy. Now we have that single point of contact.

Don't assume that you know how customers want to buy. You have to ask.

On staffing:
For salespeople to be successful you have to have the right person in the right role. That means: Do we have the right staffing strategy and organizational structure to not get in the way of selling? Do we have the right skill sets? Relationship building, strategic thinking; these are common traits for all sales organizations. We also need technical aptitude. Now that we're shifting to also help customers with aftermarket, it's a different skill set. We need to take the best of what we've got and train them on what we need, as well as bring in new salespeople and get them up to speed as quickly as possible.

We also need salespeople who are learning agile; you either have it or you don't. You need to build a sales team that's learning agile. They have to continue to grow, stretch, and use new muscles to keep pace with today's changes.

On leadership:
Leaders need to walk the walk. They need to be accountable. If they go with a rep on a sales call, [for example], they need to ask rep for the call plan if that's what they expect the rep to use. They need to use it, too.

On customer experience:
What does "owning the customer experience" mean to [your sales organization]? You have to think holistically, because if one person delivers a great experience and another doesn't, it can be a setback.

To get salespeople to take ownership of the customer experience, give them the why. Give real context of why, not just that it sounds good. Understand the "what's in it for me." What's the motivation? Make sure they know the benefits.