In professional services firms, many of us wear the sales, marketing, and delivery hats. Each role has different opportunities to engage in conversations and gather feedback to help improve their performance. While each role has their favorite tools for gathering feedback, it helps to periodically step back to see what other tools are available and to consider new ways of using our existing tools.
Marketing tends to be a heavy user of analytics for obtaining feedback. This trend will continue as advancements in technology make it easier for marketers to collect and report on analytical data.
Today’s buyers also expect to be able to have access to increasing amount of information to help them with their decision making process before they talk to a salesperson; this too, will drive marketing’s need for analytical data so they can evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns.
Creating relevant content that will attract qualified leads is a major part of a marketers job. Marketing can use analytics to help answer the following questions about the content they are producing:
- Which pages do website visitors read the most?
- What content (eBooks, videos, podcasts, webinars, etc.) do they consume most frequently?
- What content results in the greatest number of qualified leads?
- What are people searching to find us?
- What is the typical path to engagement? What does someone do before they decide to call, sign up, or request additional information ?
Marketing can also gain feedback by periodically surveying customers and former customers. As I have mentioned in the past, I believe the value from these surveys comes from the conversation, which is why I think at least a portion of your surveying should be done in person (face-to-face or via phone) rather than relying exclusively on an automated survey tool.
Marketing can also benefit from having frequent conversations with sales, as the sales role typically has the best view of the customers needs.
While marketing tends to rely on analytics, sales relies primarily on conversations. Sales can certainly use analytics to help start and\or frame conversations; in fact, one of the best ways that marketing can support sales is by using their analytical data to help determine where prospects are in their buying process.
While sophisticated tools endeavor to only deliver leads to sales when they are ready to buy, basic information about a prospect’s web activity (how they found us, what they’ve downloaded, did they see our video?, etc.) can help sales have more productive conversations.
These sales conversations can provide valuable feedback to the marketing role about whether the content that marketing is producing is aligned with the needs of the customer by answering questions like:
- What business challenges are prospects facing?
- How were they hoping we could solve those challenges?
- What are the risks, from the prospects point of view, of making a change?
- Who are the other decision makers (what roles)? What information do they need to feel comfortable moving forward?
- For the leads who did not buy, what was missing? Who disqualified who?
We can spend as much money on marketing and sales as we like, but if we don’t deliver on the expectations we created, we will not be successful – at least not in the long run.
While the customer service function has traditionally relied more on conversations for feedback and insight, I believe there is a real opportunity to use analytics to deliver an exceptional customer experience. In order to do this, I think we need to look past the traditional customer service metrics (like number of calls, time to resolve, etc.) and start thinking about how we can detect customer service issues before they become big enough for someone to complain about (or decide to fire us).
- Do you know when your customers are on your website investigating products and services they have not purchased from you yet?
- If part of your solution includes software, do you know how often customers have to reference the help system to complete a task?
- Can you detect changes in usage patterns, such as when your customers suddenly use your product or service more frequently? What if they suddenly stop using it?
These are just a few way you can use analytics to have more meaningful conversations with your customers and prospects. Drop me a note and let me know how you use analytics to have better conversations.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant